From Ambition to Action: The Paris Action Plan for Inclusive Growth in Cities


Keynote address by Angel Gurría

Secretary-General, OECD

Launch of the Paris Action Plan for Inclusive Growth in Cities

21 November 2016, Paris, France

(as prepared for delivery)


Mesdames et Messieurs les Maires,

C’est un grand plaisir pour moi d’être parmi vous ce matin, aux côtés de deux Maires champions de la croissance inclusive: Madame Anne Hidalgo, Maire de Paris mais aussi maire fondateur de cette initiative; et Monsieur Khalifa Sall, Maire de Dakar. J’aimerais tout particulièrement remercier Madame Hidalgo de nous accueillir aujourd’hui au prestigieux bâtiment de l’Hôtel de Ville de Paris.

J’exprime également toute ma gratitude à l’égard de Monsieur Darren Walker, Président de la Fondation Ford, notre fidèle partenaire, ainsi que tous les représentants des institutions partenaires ici présents – United Way Worldwide, le C40, ICLEI, la CGLU, Cities Alliance et la Brookings Institution.

Over the past months, we have been reminded time and again that many people in our societies have come to feel left out and left behind.

By many measures, they are right. Across the OECD, the average income of the richest 10% of the population is now ten times that of the poorest 10%, up from seven times 25 years ago. That’s an increase of 40% in a single generation!

In terms of wealth, the situation is markedly worse. In 2012 across the OECD, the top 10% controlled half of all household assets and in a number of countries the top 1% held over 20%. In stark contrast, the bottom 40% owned just 3% of national wealth on average.

These disparities strain the very fabric of our societies. It is more urgent than ever to take action – and cities and their leaders must be at the centre of this fight.

We need cities at the heart of the fight for inclusive economies

The Tale of Two cities – to refer to famous Charles Dickens book - continues to ring true in too many places. Cities are thriving by many measures – they account for 60% of total employment creation since 2001 in the OECD, and household incomes are on average 18% higher in cities than elsewhere. 

But there is a flip side to this coin: cities also register higher levels of income inequality, compared to their respective national average. Copenhagen, Brussels, Paris and Santiago, for instance, all record the highest Gini coefficients in their respective country. 

Cities also record staggering disparities in health, education and labour markets and ability to access essential public services. As our OECD report Making Cities Work For All shows, life expectancy varies by an incredible 20 years across neighbourhoods in London and Baltimore!

Where you live determines how long you live, and your chances of getting a job!

Champion Mayors are taking a stand against inequality

Today I am proud to deliver the Paris Action Plan for Inclusive Growth in Cities, which will help local governments and their leaders tackle these disparities head-on. This Action Plan is itself the result of an inclusive process, and I would like to thank all the Champion Mayors and supporting institutions who took part in developing it.

The Paris Action Plan is the critical next step in our Champion Mayors for Inclusive Growth Initiative, which we launched with the Ford Foundation in March of this year. At that time, 47 Champion Mayors joined Mayor Bill de Blasio to sign on to the New York Proposal for Inclusive Growth. In so doing, they committed to work together to overcome inequalities and build more inclusive cities and societies.

Now we turn these shared ambitions into results! With this Action Plan, Mayors have committed to work together across four pillars to advance a comprehensive inclusive growth agenda. Concretely, this means:

  1. Certifying that education and training systems remediate – rather than reproduce – inequalities.

  2. Creating inclusive local labour markets in which workers across the skills spectrum have access to quality jobs.

  3. Ensuring investments in housing and urban development lead to more inclusive physical environments and connect people to economic opportunities.

And finally, leveraging investments in transport and critical public services to generate returns for both inclusion and sustainability.

To help mayors in this endeavor – particularly in making progress on the first two pillars - it is my pleasure to launch today Job Creation and Local Economic Development 2016.

  • This publication provides new data on how cities are faring in the global marketplace for skills and jobs. While most OECD countries have enjoyed an increase in educational attainment over the past 15 years, local areas that were already leading the pack in terms of education levels have pulled even further ahead.

  • Similar trends have been observed for the distribution of high-skilled jobs in several countries, including France. 

While large cities are often the ones leading the pack, there is a risk of smaller cities, towns and communities – and the people who live there – getting left behind. This report will ensure that all cities and places are empowered to break out of a vicious cycle of low quality, poorly productive jobs.

Ladies and gentlemen, Mesdames et messieurs,

I would like to recognise the efforts of our Champion Mayors, who day in and day out are on the frontlines to build a more inclusive society. In the session right after lunch, Champion Mayors will share their visions and ambitions for putting the Paris Action Plan into practice in their city.

I would also like to invite other mayors present today to inform us about their innovative experiences to promote inclusive growth in their cities so that they could potentially join the Champion Mayor initiative.

We cannot afford to continue down a path that enables only a selected few to prosper, while others languish on the margins. Mayors, more than ever, we need you to sustain this critical agenda!

Thank you


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OECD Inclusive Growth in Cities Campaign



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