When OECD Ministers of Economics, Finance, and Environment first met together at the OECD in May 2001, they recognised sustainable development as an overarching goal of OECD governments and the Organisation. In their Ministerial Communiqué , they emphasised that OECD countries bear a special responsibility for leadership on sustainable development worldwide, historically and because of the weight they continue to have in the global economy and environment.
They asked the OECD to continue assisting them in formulating and implementing policies to achieve sustainable development, and in particular by:
- developing agreed indicators that measure progress across all three dimensions of sustainable development, including decoupling of economic growth from environmental degradation, with a view to incorporating these into OECD's economic, social and environmental peer review processes, and filling gaps in the statistical and scientific data;
- identifying how obstacles to policy reforms, in particular to the better use of market-based instruments, and to the reduction of environmentally harmful subsidies, can be overcome; and deepening its analytical work on these instruments;
- analysing further the social aspects of sustainable development, including work on human and social capital, as well as their interaction with their economic and environmental dimensions;
- providing guidance for achieving improved economic, environmental and social policy coherence and integration.
Projects have started in all of these areas, and a progress report was presented to Ministers at their meeting in May 2002. Outputs so far include:
- the OECD Report to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD);
- a report on Indicators to Measure Decoupling of Environmental Pressure from Economic Growth;
- a seminar on Improving Governance for Sustainable Development and the publication of Five OECD Case Studies on Governance for Sustainable Development.
Furthermore, as of September 2001, all of the OECD Economic and Development Reviews will include a section reviewing country policies for sustainable development. A synthesis of a full cycle of these reviews for all OECD countries will be presented to the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting in 2004. A new project has also been launched to take stock of environmentally harmful subsidies in OECD countries as part of efforts to overcome obstacles to their reform. It will be kicked off with a workshop on subsidy measurement in November 2002.