Secretary-General Gurría's Farewell Speech to Staff, 31 May 2021


Remarks by Angel Gurría,

Secretary-General, OECD

Paris, 31 May 2021

Dear Ambassadors, Deputy Secretaries-General, Juan, Rafal, Cabinet colleagues, Directors and all the OECD Staff, my DearLulu :

Chers collègues :

Aujourd'hui, je termine mon troisième et dernier mandat comme Secrétaire général de l'OCDE. Ce fut un voyage fantastique. Trois mandats et quinze ans à la barre de cet étonnant navire, vaisseau du multilatéralisme, à l’équipage magique et talentueux, avec une vision claire, une ambition forte et un sens inné de la mission.

Nous avons accompli tellement de choses ensemble. Au cours de ces 15 années, nous avons transformé et amélioré l'OCDE, la transformant d'un «think-tank» en un «do-tank»; du «club des nations riches» à «la maison des meilleures pratiques»; d'une source d'analyses techniques et de statistiques comparées en le lieu «de choix» pour des réformes politiques fondées sur des données probantes et de meilleures politiques pour une vie meilleure.

Thanks to your support, the OECD has become one of the world’s most dynamic and relevant international organisations.

The numbers are staggering. Every year, we deliver over 500 major reports and country surveys and release more than 5 billion data points, as well as hundreds of policy briefs, articles and digital content with quality analysis and recommendations that are helping Members design, develop and deliver better policies for better lives. Our Members’ strong satisfaction with the OECD’s work is reflected in our latest Programme Implementation Report, with nearly 98% of outputs being assessed as high quality or above.

The Chilean writer Isabel Allende wrote: “In the end, we only have what we have given”; and we gave it all. And this effort produced a historic transformation:

  • Together, we refocused the work of the Organisation, putting people at the centre. We developed the building blocks for a new, strong, and people centred growth narrative.
  • We revamped and amplified our international standards to promote a fairer and more harmonious globalisation, and a rules-based international economy.
  • We built new capacities to support countries with their reform agendas. Building on our evidence-based, comparative policy analysis, our efforts to “Go National” and our Seminars with newly elected leaders.
  • We opened to new knowledge and perspectives, enriching and reinforcing our analysis capacity, through NAEC, our OECD’s strategic foresight work, our Smart Data Strategy, our Coffees with the Secretary-General series.  kept our minds open!
  • We also became a top and central player in the global multilateral architecture, becoming a trusted advisor to the G20, the G7 and APEC, among others.
  • We enhanced our global reach and relevance, adding eight new Members to the OECD, with Costa Rica our latest member joining us only last week, and enhancing our co-operation with Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and South Africa.
  • And we upgraded and strengthened our communications’ tools, launching a new logo, a new motto “Better Policies for Better Lives”, a new webpage, a new corporate visibility strategy; and tapping into social media to connect with broader and younger public and take the temperature of public opinion.

Most importantly, we became more agile and responsive to Members’ urgencies and interests. During the global financial crisis of 2008, we reacted rapidly to provide fast advice on fiscal responses while helping governments link those responses to long term structural reforms. In 2020, we moved swiftly to help our Members navigate the COVID-19 crisis and build forward better. We undertook targeted policy dialogue with Leaders and Ministers, established a COVID-19 Digital Hub with over 200 policy briefs, and convened three Ministerial Roundtables in the lead-up to our 2020 Ministerial Council Meeting.

Earlier today, Ministers welcomed some new major deliverables including: the Safe Mobility Initiative, the International Programme for Action on Climate (IPAC), the Youth Action Plan, the Recommendation on Children in the Digital Environment. This shows how relevant and valuable we can be during these challenging times. And soon we hope to see an agreement to address tax challenges in the digital economy.

We also became more diverse, promoting the presence of women in leadership positions. We strengthened the mechanisms to protect and improve the staff’s well-being, its health, its pensions, its salaries. The COVID crisis tested all of us and I know that it has been a very difficult time for many of you and your families. As the Organisation plans for a return to the office, I am very pleased that we embarked on a post-COVID work environment to help improve the OECD work culture, staff’s well-being, and to make the best use of the technology available.

C'était une transformation du métabolisme de l’OCDE. Mais, tout dans cette vie est un travail en cours. Les défis ne feront que se compliquer à mesure que nous nous préparons à un avenir de plus en plus incertain. Au-delà de la COVID-19, nous sommes confrontés à des crises véritablement existentielles: nous devons faire face au changement climatique, à la perte de biodiversité et à la dégradation de l'environnement; nous devons gérer la transformation numérique et la rendre plus inclusive et plus compétitive; nous devons nous adapter aux changements démographiques; et nous devons continuer à lutter contre les inégalités.

Plus encore, nous devons faire face aux tensions croissantes découlant du commerce, des investissements et des fractures technologiques. Des menaces sérieuses pour nos démocraties et les économies de marché. Il est donc impératif d’intensifier nos actions.

This transformation would not have been possible without your hard work, without your enthusiasm, without your sense of duty and mission to serve the common interest, without your loyalty to this house. I invite you to keep that spirit, to keep brightening this remarkable Organisation. Be that evolution; that dynamism; remain innovative and open to new ideas; keep challenging conventional thinking while guarding your rigour, your quality, your evidence-based analysis and recommendations.

The OECD shines brighter than ever because it learned to look at the world with fresh eyes, because it had the courage to look at itself in the mirror and change what didn’t work, because its staff dared to challenge the establishment and think and act creatively with one goal in mind: to help governments improve the wellbeing of the people.

This hat-trick, this transformation of the OECD into one of the most relevant and useful international organisations in the world, was possible because of you; you and your extra-mile efforts; you and your talent; you and your passion!

So let me conclude this long and wonderful 15-year journey with two simple but powerful words: THANK YOU.

I will always be in awe remembering you. I will carry our memories wherever I go and I will use your wisdom in my next endeavours. Every day I have learnt something from you.

Thank you very much OECD! Thank you colleagues, we are ‘in it together’, as reads the title of one of our many excellent publications. Hasta la vista!


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