Paris, 30 October 2020
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honour to participate in this Call for Action to Make Multilateralism Fit for the 21st Century; and now I would add, fit for a very different and challenging world.
When we think about multilateralism, we jump straight into the work of International Organisations and their efforts to promote international co-operation. However, multilateralism is also crucial to help governments recover trust: a precious asset for economic development and prosperity. Trust among people. Trust among economic actors. Trust among nations. Trust in our economic and political systems; trust in globalisation. Trust in democracy. Trust in the governments and institutions that people count upon to defend their rights, and to protect them in the face of the pandemic and its dire health economic and social consequences.
We were suffering a trust deficit long before the arrival of COVID-19. Heightened political and trade tensions were already hurting economies and people. Countries were lagging in the implementation of their Paris climate commitments. Few advanced economies were delivering on their foreign aid commitments. And increased inequalities were leading to greater frustration and to a further erosion of trust.
COVID-19 is now exacerbating many of these challenges. This crisis knows no borders and no country can effectively tackle it alone. We are presented with an opportunity to work together and chart a new policy course. An opportunity to build on a new growth narrative that prioritises well-being, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and which integrates the dimensions of inclusiveness, environmental sustainability and resilience. An opportunity to ‘build back better’!
At the OECD, we will continue to champion multilateralism through the many strands of our work. OECD's international standards are paramount in helping us promote a rules-based international economy. They remain the backbone of our efforts to level the global playing field and foster responsible, effective and inclusive multilateralism.
Through our evidence-based analysis we are able to provide important support to our members and partners alike. Our active participation in international fora, such as the G20, G7 and APEC, ensures that our work on well-being, inclusiveness, green and resilient growth is promoted at the highest political levels, and gains many new adherents, in the process.
Moreover, as part of our response to the COVID-19 crisis, we launched a Digital Hub on Tackling the Coronavirus, providing a single entry point to OECD’s analysis on the health, economic, social, environmental and governance impacts of COVID-19. It already has around 160 policy briefs on all the fields of work of the OECD, and COVID-19.
We also strengthened our links with other multilateral organisations to ensure a co-ordinated and coherent response; we organised three virtual Ministerial Council Roundtables, and we held nationally targeted COVID-19 Ministerial briefings for a number of Member and Partner countries.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the UN and the 60th anniversary of the OECD. Let us recall that our Organisations were created to bring nations and people together. You can count on the OECD to work with all stakeholders for a multilateralism that is fit for the 21st century.