Remarks by Angel Gurría
Dubai, UAE, 11 February 2018
(As prepared for delivery)
Ladies and Gentlemen, Ministers,
I am delighted to open the World Government Summit and to deepen the strategic partnership between the Summit and the OECD. This Summit is an important opportunity to reflect on the deep governance transformations that are needed to make economies and societies more resilient and inclusive.
We are going through a foundational moment. After 10 years of crisis, the global economy seems to be taking off again. We are still flying low and with risks of turbulences but the outlook is looking slightly better. The latest OECD Economic Outlook has shown that global growth is accelerating from 3.1% in 2016 to a projected 3.6% in 2017 and 3.7% this year.
Growth is of course welcome, but we should not be complacent. This time, we need to promote a new type of growth, one that is more resilient, more inclusive and more sustainable. This time, we need to make globalisation work for the many, not only for a privileged few.
Because the type of growth we have been promoting left many people behind. The average income of the richest 10% of the population is now around 10 times that of the poorest 10% across the OECD, up from 7 times a generation ago. In terms of wealth, according to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report 2017, the bottom half of adults collectively own less than 1% of total wealth, while the richest decile, the top 10%, owns 88% of global assets.
This has had a terrible impact on public trust. Trust in the global economic system and in government has plummeted. In the OECD, only 4 out of 10 citizens trust their governments! Our recent Recommendation on Open Government is the first global instrument to identify what is needed for transparency, integrity, accountability and participation – in order to regain that trust.
We need to rethink the way we deliver public policies and services at the national level and we are pleased to see innovation in government evolving into what we call ‘the new normal’. Just this morning we launched our second annual report on Embracing Innovation in Government in partnership with the UAE’s Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre for Government Innovation. At the global level, we need to promote a globalisation that works for all through effective and inclusive multilateralism. We need to put multilateralism first. We need to rekindle and strengthen multilateralism. That will be our focus of the OECD’s 2018 Ministerial Council Meeting in May on “Refonder le Multilateralisme”, Chaired by France.
The OECD is working on many fronts, at the multilateral, the national, the regional and the local levels, to help governments achieve more inclusive and sustainable growth.
Our New Approaches to Economic Challenges (NAEC) and Inclusive Growth Initiatives are working to modernise our economic analysis and recommendations to design better economic and social policies, preventing inequalities cascading down generations. To build inclusive societies and economies we need “empowering states”. This goes beyond providing social safety nets, it is about giving people the skills and resources they need to transform their lives, starting in early childhood. This will be vital in helping people adapt to the digital revolution.
The OECD’s international standards are also helping by levelling the global playing field through improved competition, more responsible business conduct, better corporate governance and more effective tax collection. Last June, more than 70 countries and jurisdictions signed the OECD’s multilateral convention on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS). In September 2017, the first automatic exchanges of tax information (AEOI) began, which has played a key role in raising 85 billion euros so far in increased revenues.
We are also helping governments promote green growth. The OECD is supporting countries to embed the commitments of the Paris Agreement into policies. For example, through the Paris Collaborative on Green Budgeting, which we launched with France and Mexico at the One Planet Summit.
Last but not least, the OECD has been fostering more inclusive and sustainable growth through the MENA-OECD Initiative on Governance and Competitiveness for Development. Building on the progress made at our MENA-OECD Ministerial Conference in 2016, the OECD has been supporting governments in adopting a youth lens across the administration as well as integrating women. Our societies cannot be fully inclusive if women continue to be marginalised. Women earn on average 15% less than their male counterparts in OECD countries, and only 21% of women in MENA countries were part of the labour force in 2017. Last year we launched the Gender Balance Guide: Actions for UAE Organisations, in the presence of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
“The only thing that will redeem mankind is co-operation.” These strong words by Bertrand Russell couldn’t be more fit for this moment. 2018 is the year not just to defend multilateralism but to improve it. This 6th World Government Summit is an important milestone in that journey. It is an opportunity to share our experiences and ideas and to chart an innovative, intrepid, path towards more resilient economies and inclusive societies in the Middle East, in the OECD and in the world.