Video Message by Angel Gurría,
Paris, 30 Oct. 2020
Welcome to the 5th OECD Forum on the Governance of Infrastructure. Let me thank all of you for joining us today to advance the global debate on how we can build back better the future of our countries in the years to come.
This debate could not be timelier. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the very delicate connection and interdependence between our environment and our health, as well as a number of pre-existing structural vulnerabilities in our economies and societies. It is therefore imperative that we seize this opportunity to re-think and re-build our economies in a more resilient, inclusive and environmentally conscious manner.
Most countries have put infrastructure at the core of their recovery efforts. If done right, the potential of infrastructure investment is immense. Let me mention just some of the benefits it can bring.
Infrastructure can serve as a short-term demand stimulus; promote job creation; reduce regional imbalances; increase productive capacities in the medium-term; ensure access to essential services; and, promote long-term sustainable development objectives.
Strong governance through all stages of the infrastructure investment cycle is crucial to manage the trade-offs between these multiple objectives.
At the OECD, we are actively supporting our Members and Partners in promoting robust infrastructure governance. We recently launched a project with Spain to assess the main governance bottlenecks in the country’s transport infrastructure.
Moreover, our newly adopted OECD Recommendation on the Governance of Infrastructure is also providing policymakers with a strategic vision towards delivering sustainable and resilient infrastructure, in line with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment.
Looking ahead, the priority must be to reduce the likelihood of future shocks and increase society’s resilience. Three actions are critical to achieving this.
First, in an effort to ‘build back better’, we need to invest in infrastructure projects that can best contribute to an inclusive, greener and digitally-enabled recovery. Existing infrastructure also needs to be maintained and upgraded to increase resilience against future shocks.
Second, countries must adopt well-designed long-term strategic planning processes. This is crucial to align investments to our policy goals on climate and low-carbon transition. We need to ensure that the recovery goes hand-in-hand with green efforts by mainstreaming environmental and social objectives in infrastructure policies.
And third, we need to ensure a more regionally balanced infrastructure development. 37% of public investment is financed by subnational governments around the world. Regions and cities are responsible for 64% of environment and climate-related investments. Advancing multi-level governance systems must become a priority for countries to ensure a resilient recovery process. The OECD Principles on Effective Public Investment across Levels of Government provide useful guidance to achieve this objective.
Our discussions today provide an important opportunity to focus on the sustainability agenda for better infrastructure, and to achieve a better and stronger recovery. Count on the OECD’s support in the pursuit of such endeavour.