Public Governance Ministerial Meeting: Official Dinner
Remarks by Angel Gurría,
Helsinki, 27 October 2015
(As prepared for delivery)
Minister Stubb, Minister Vehviläinen, Mayor Pajunen, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted that you could all be here for this opening dinner: a chance for us to get to know one another and, in some cases, to renew acquaintances. A full day of work lies ahead, so let’s enjoy this opportunity provided by our generous hosts for relaxed and informal conversation. I would, however, like to take a brief moment to set the scene for our discussions tomorrow.
At an international level, we continue to face many challenges – slow growth, unemployment, growing inequality, loss of trust – all the legacies of the crisis. We are also confronting the risk of dramatic consequences from climate change. But, crucially, we face a growing appetite for action. For results.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted last month by 193 countries in New York, are a powerful example of this appetite. These goals provide the international community with a bold, comprehensive – and achievable – framework to end poverty, and to chart a more prosperous, inclusive and sustainable future for all. It is the shared responsibility of countries at all levels of development to ensure their successful implementation.
There was real momentum in New York. An excitement that comes from a sense of collective achievement. We must sustain this momentum over the months and years ahead as we tackle entrenched and emerging challenges and pursue inclusive and sustainable growth. Our next key appointment is COP21 in Paris in December.
This brings me to the theme of tomorrow’s discussion: a new vision for the public sector. Good public governance is the lynchpin of inclusive growth. We need public sectors that work and governments that deliver. Friends, you are the centres of government, the budget managers, the regulators, the public service innovators, the digital government leaders, the guardians of ethics. You have the power to inspire citizens to take action and responsibility, and to engage our youth in civic life so that we all take interest and ownership of the way our societies are organised and managed.
An effective and accountable public sector is essential to support businesses that create jobs and fuel the economy, to equip young people with the skills they need for fulfilling careers, and to provide access to health, education and social services.
Could the public sector do more? Certainly. Our OECD Public Governance Communities are very active, shaping standards and working with countries to share good practices in regulation, budget, and public sector management precisely because things are not perfect. And our Regulatory Policy Outlook, which will be released tomorrow, confirms that while much progress has been made in the past two decades, countries still have room for innovation and improvement.
Which brings me to our hosts today. Finland is a small country, yet it looms large in the OECD world. Finland punches above its weight in terms of innovation and experimentation in both the public and private sectors. It is a reference point in so many areas, particularly in terms of open government.
The city of Helsinki is known across the world as a hub of entrepreneurship and a leader in “liveability”. Mayor Pajunen has involved the citizens of Helsinki in deciding what a liveable city centre should look like, transforming the city in the process. And Minister Stubb’s commitment to engaging with youth and schools is commendable – and as we heard today in the Youth Forum – it is crucial that young people’s voices are not left out of the policy debates that shape their future.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me close by saying we have all come to the right place in our quest for new visions and new solutions! I very much look forward to our discussions tomorrow, as we work together to design, develop and deliver better public sectors for better lives.