Global Scenarios 2035 and Implications for the OECD, 20 May 2021


Remarks by Angel Gurría,

Secretary-General, OECD

Paris, 20 May 2021

Dear friends,

Welcome to this special launch event of the OECD report Global Scenarios 2035: Implications for the future of global collaboration and the OECD. I would particularly like to thank Maroš Šefčovič, the European Commission’s Vice-President for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight, and Maria Langan-Riekhof, Director of the Strategic Futures Groups at the United States National Intelligence Council for their contributions today.

As we are all aware, the OECD is celebrating its 60th anniversary during tumultuous times. We are in the midst of a global pandemic, geopolitical realignment, massive digitalisation and, of course, climate change – our most significant intergenerational issue. The decades we face may be more uncertain than almost any other in living memory.

However, these times of accelerating change and uncertainty also present significant opportunities. We have the chance to re-design our social, economic and environmental systems so that they are more sustainable in the long term. The recovery from COVID-19 is an opportune moment to build forward better and look far into the future – and deep within ourselves – to ask important questions about what kind of world we want to live in.

The report we are launching today is not about any particular policy issue, but about the OECD itself and how it can serve the international community in meeting the challenges of tomorrow. Its goal is to stimulate reflection on the Organisation’s purpose, agility and readiness in the face of a rapidly evolving future.

It is important to recognise that the three global future scenarios set out in this report are not predictions, and represent only some of the many ways that the world could change in the coming years.

The first scenario, Multitrack World, looks at a world that is less globalised and more divided, and where the standards for societal success are not shared. The second scenario, Virtual Worlds, tells the story of a far more digital earth where geography matters far less to how people connect socially and economically. And the third scenario, Vulnerable World, explores future threats that cannot be muddled through, but instead require unprecedented collaboration on the part of the international community.

These scenarios serve to raise important considerations for the future of the Organisation that we must be willing to confront. Exploring them can help to broaden our understanding of what is possible, set more ambitious objectives, and be bolder in our policy agendas. They encourage innovative thinking about how policymaking might be done, and who may need to be at the table and what needs to be consider to continue producing better policies for better lives.

The OECD Strategic Foresight Unit conceived and developed these scenarios and their subsequent strategic considerations over the past months in consultation with colleagues from across the OECD, member representatives, as well as with leading foresight experts from around the world.

Dear Friends,

Let me conclude by saying that it has been a great pleasure to see the growth of Strategic Foresight at the OECD during my tenure as Secretary-General. It must continue to play a central role in how we conduct our work in crosscutting policy areas such as the economic recovery, the environment, digitisation, and combatting inequality. Strategic foresight is an essential component of responsible policymaking, as it is in many governments around the world, and I am proud that the OECD is at the forefront of its development.

Thank you.


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