The 5th Round Table on Sustainable Development - Report

 

OECD WORK ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

January 2001

 

The Discussion focused on : i) an early draft of the OECD Policy report on Sustainable Development (SD); ii) OECD work on Export Credits; iii) draft OECD "Environmental Strategy"; iv) OECD work on economic growth and the new economy.

 

 

 

Draft on OECD Policy Report on Sustainable Development

 

The RTSD lead its debates on the 2000 OECD Draft Policy Report on Sustainable Development. This Report, focused on the economy/environment interface and on some of the social consequences of more ambitious and effective policies, formulated recommendations in a few priority areas and aimed to find common ground between different countries and policy communities.

Even though the Report was welcomed as evidence of a change in the OECD attitude to SD issues, some critics were underlined such as the lack of a sense of "urgency" for the challenges to face, the lack of the priority among these challenges, and the lack of a time frame for action. Likewise the OECD Report has failed in providing a comprehensive description of the state of the environment in OECD countries according to the RTSD. Finally lack of discussion of export credit agencies was noted as an important omission.

The RTSD asked then for more stress on the critical role of investment and technological changes in transport energy and agriculture to achieve progress. More emphasis on the importance of de-coupling economic growth from environmental degradation but also of integrated policies to achieve the result was also asked.

The RTSD noted the absence of in-depth discussion of the "social" pillar of SD as well as the narrow focus on environmental issues. The lack of integration of the three dimensions of SD was pointed in order that to be corrected as soon as possible.

 

 

 

OECD Work on Export Credits

 

It was debated on the importance of an agreement on Export Credit (ECA). Dangers such as incoherence between instruments was notably underscored. It was concluded that a possible agreement should be associated to the Ministerial Council meeting, as evidence of OECD countries commitment to SD.

 

 

 

Draft OECD Environmental Srategy

 

The RTSD debated on the draft OECD Environment Strategy. This strategy was favourably welcomed by the RTSD even if some improvements were asked.

It was asked to deepen partnerships with NGOs but also with industry. Also it was asked for more emphasis on demand-side management and stressed the need for OECD countries to assist developing countries to build capacity as a key to SD. A more precise definition of the precautionary principle was also called whereas the need for sectoral Ministers (especially agriculture, energy and transport) in the implementation of the Environmental Strategy was stressed.

 

 

 

OECD Work on Economic Growth and the New Economy

 

The RTSD debated on the OECD Growth Project, which stresses the main factors underlying performance in economic growth, with a special focus on the role of information and communication technologies (ICT). The RTSD asked to discuss on environmental impacts of ICT and emphasized the large spill-over effects of innovation (i.e. social benefits being several times greater than private ones) and the lags between innovation and results.