Transport for a Changing World


Remarks by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General, delivered at the opening of the International Transport Forum Summit

21 May 2014, Leipzig, Germany

As prepared for delivery


Ladies and gentlemen, 

It is a great pleasure to be here in Leipzig for this year’s International Transport Forum Summit

Two weeks ago, I welcomed OECD ministers to Paris for our annual Ministerial Council Meeting. I am pleased to see that many of the themes we discussed are being picked up again – here in Leipzig – by transport leaders. Take inclusive growth, climate change, and global value chains, for example. These are all issues in which transport plays a crucial role in determining outcomes – and people’s wellbeing. 
  21 May 2014 - Alexander Dobrindt, Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, Germany, and Angel Gurria, OECD Secretary-General at the 2014 Annual Summit of the International Transport Forum

Growth needs to be focused on people’s wellbeing

The global economy is showing important signs of progress. Global GDP is expected to grow by almost 3.5% in 2014, and close to 4% in 2015. Global trade is growing again, with forecasts of 4.7% and 5.3% for 2014 and 2015. This is all good news. But it is not enough. 202 million people remain unemployed. And as we highlighted in a new OECD report earlier this month, the gap between rich and poor is widening.

The crisis should be a game-changer. It is time to imagine a new type of growth that is focused on the wellbeing of people, and on inclusion.

We need to continue to adapt to a changing world

The theme of this conference is “Transport for a Changing World”. At the OECD, we make it our business to follow change – and to help shape it. I want to flag a couple of trends that I find particularly pertinent:

First, ageing is an issue that we’ve been focusing on more at the OECD. Life expectancy has seen a near-continuous increase since the latter half of the twenty-first century. We’re spending more time in retirement. Meanwhile, many developing and emerging economies have more dynamic demographics, with a growing labour force that is important for growth.

Second, we are continuing to urbanise: 70 per cent of the world’s population is expected to live in cities by 2050. Ensuring access to jobs, education and services for both urban and rural inhabitants is therefore important for inclusive growth.

Third, we are on a collision course with nature. Climate change is now squarely an economic issue. I believe we need to move to zero net emissions from fossil fuel combustion in the second half of this century if we are to be successful in limiting global warming. There are other environmental challenges too: later today I will be launching a report on the health costs of air pollution from road transport. The figures are staggering.

We need better transport policies for better lives

Ladies and gentlemen,

You – ministers and leaders in transport – are central to harnessing inclusive growth. The trade-offs you manage are crucial. Reliable, accessible transport infrastructure facilitates trade, and provides access to skills and jobs. Inadequate transport can concentrate poverty and entrench inequalities.

We need a new paradigm for transport policy. One that takes economic and social inclusion as a starting point. One that focuses on getting people to work. One that ensures access to services. And one that does all of this in an environmentally sustainable manner. In short, we need better transport policies for better lives.

Thank you.


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