How to deliver better policies for better lives in the developing world? What is the real development challenge for those living in poverty? “The eagle was born to soar but our eagle is grounded by corruption, poor amenities and social vices.” – that is the story of life on the ground for Gabriel Jahmed, aged 18, of Nigeria, who shared his vision of progress with the OECD, and for many more of the world’s poorest who have criticised their governments for similar reasons. How to respond to those calls?
Focus on the D in OECD
“Development was at the heart of the OECD’s founding mission – in fact, the “D” at the end of the title. And it belongs at the center of our agenda today and in years to come,” as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton underlined at a ceremony to mark the OECD’s 50th anniversary. It was at the OECD that the groundwork was done for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) setting specific poverty reduction targets over a 15-year period to 2015.
As chair of the anniversary ministerial meeting (25-26 May 2011), the United States selected development as the “highlight” theme of the meeting. As the global economy emerges from crisis, the key development challenge is to achieve stronger, more sustainable growth and mobilise resources in developing countries themselves – by fostering a good investment climate, fighting corruption, instilling good governance and establishing strong public institutions and services, including fair tax systems. OECD ministers reaffirmed their commitment to make it happen.
That message resonates for developing countries – for Gabriel Jahmed, “progress is…..a country whose citizens have tax payments as a number one priority” because his government can spend that money on providing food, transport, education and encouraging industry to create jobs.
This new development strategy builds on the experience and expertise acquired during the past 50 years. The new African Economic Outlook, the 10th of its kind, shows that African economies have weathered the global crisis relatively well but that rising food and fuel prices are likely to slow growth. Trade ties are improving but urgent attention is needed to foster inclusive growth, improve political accountability and reduce inequality.
OECD is helping attract sustainable quality investment through a new centre to help African governments manage their debt and bond markets in Midrand, South Africa, which starts operations this month (June 2011). Elsewhere, the OECD’s programme with the Middle East and North Africa is helping governments in the region tackle corruption and governance issues.