2016 Global Forum on Development opening remarks


2016 Global Forum on Development
From Commitment to Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals: Policies, data and financing

Opening remarks by Angel Gurría

Secretary-General, OECD

Paris, 31 March 2016

(As prepared for delivery)



Ministers, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,


Welcome to the 2016 Global Forum on Development. This year’s Forum will allow us to join forces and discuss ways in which we can make the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development a reality. I would like to thank Mr Ahmed Shide, State Minister of Finance and Economic Cooperation of Ethiopia, and Ms Claudia Juech, Associate Vice President of the Rockefeller Foundation, for joining us this morning.


From agreement to implementation – the challenges ahead


2015 was an impressive year for multilateral co-operation. We made ground-breaking progress in numerous areas; we adopted the Sustainable Development Goals and we reached major agreements in Addis Ababa on overhauling global finance practices, as well as in Paris at the COP21 on tackling climate change.


But while 2015 marked a pivotal year for the 2030 Agenda, 2016 must be the year of implementation. The goals we have set ourselves are ambitious. We have, for instance, around 800 weeks to lift 800 million people out of extreme poverty, and this must be done in ways which are mindful of our planetary boundaries.


In addition, we continue to face multifaceted global challenges which threaten what has already been achieved. To name some of the more pressing ones, the sharp slowdown in emerging market economies is weighing on global activity, while trade, weak investments, and subdued productivity growth are limiting the recovery in advanced economies. We are also confronted with pressing global tensions from fragile and conflict-ridden areas, from the adverse effects of climate change, from terrorism, from health pandemics, from the refugee crisis, and from the real struggles so many countries face in building more inclusive and cohesive societies where no one is left behind.


Implementing our development commitments under these circumstances will be a complex task. At the OECD, we have identified three pivotal dimensions to implementing the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda more broadly.


Policies, data and finance are key for the SDG implementation agenda


First. Effective policies. The ambitions of the SDGs are universal, translating them into transformative results on the ground depends on two things: the global enabling environment and the ability to design policies owned and led at the local level.


Rural development, for example, is a necessary condition to achieve the SDGs and an area that must be further explored. I am, therefore, pleased to announce today the release of the OECD report A New Rural Development Paradigm for the 21st Century: A Toolkit for Developing Countries. It will inform our discussions on building more resilient and sustainable rural livelihoods.


The second is data: reliable, comparative data. Better policymaking requires better data in order to make informed decisions about what is working and what is not. Better data also allows us to assess progress and the issues remaining to be addressed.


With 17 SDGs, 169 targets and more than 220 indicators, we need to strengthen national statistical systems to support governments in making the right decisions, and to put in place more transparent monitoring systems. In short, to function as a GPS for the implementation of the SDGs. The OECD is home to a significant amount of data – both quantitative and qualitative – that could help with national, regional and global efforts. For example, our work on PISA for Development aims to increase developing countries’ use of PISA assessments. This is particularly useful in monitoring progress towards achieving national targets for improvement.


We also host PARIS21, which works with developing countries to strengthen their national statistical systems. This Forum will discuss further concrete examples of how we can respond to the challenge of measuring the SDGs by leveraging the data revolution.


And the third is finance. Achieving national development strategies in line with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda will require adequate and predictable financing.


Aid is, and will remain, a critical resource in financing the SDGs. It totalled an all-time high of 137.2 billion USD in 2014. Continuing our efforts to target these resources to the poorest countries is paramount. Moreover, aid alone is not enough to foot the SDG bill. We need more holistic and predictable financing for development strategies. This implies mobilising a broader package of resources including aid, taxes, foreign and domestic investments, remittances, and philanthropic funds.


Our updated Policy Framework for Investment (PFI), a comprehensive and systematic approach for improving investment conditions, is used by almost 30 countries at varying levels of development. In addition, we have been active in tackling tax evasion and avoidance, whilst programmes such as Global relations and development (TIWB) enable the transfer of important skills to tax administrations in developing countries through a real time, “learning by doing” approach. 


Our proven expertise in financing for development allows us to play a key role in offering game-changing ideas on how to combine resources and design innovative financing scenarios.


The OECD’s role


With the Development Centre and the Development Co-operation Directorate co-hosting this Forum, the OECD has been actively working with member states, as well as with non-OECD members of the Development Centre, foundations, the private sector, and civil society to walk the talk of the SDGs.


More concretely, in 2015 we were tasked with developing an OECD Action Plan for the SDGs. The Plan focuses on finding ways to put the OECD’s expertise in evidence-based policy, in peer reviews, in implementation and placing it at the disposal of member and non-member countries.


In addition, our tools continue to help governments design policies; our evidence based data provide support in building national statistical systems; and our platforms – such as this Forum – bring stakeholders together to share knowledge and experiences.


Ladies and Gentlemen,


2015 allowed us to put in motion the rules for creating a better world; we now have a unique opportunity to work together and implement the policies that will bring change. Remember, agreements make the headlines, implementation changes lives.


I invite you all to make the best of this Forum and chart concrete actions for the journey ahead. Together, we can make considerable progress on the SDG implementation agenda and design, develop and deliver better policies for better lives.


Thank you.


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