Working together to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals - OECD Global Forum on Development 2017 welcoming address


Welcome address by Angel Gurría

OECD Secretary-General

Paris, 5 April 2017

(As prepared for delivery)



Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to welcome you to the OECD, and to Paris, for this year’s Global Forum on Development. Now in its twelfth year, the Forum draws on expertise from across the OECD, including its Development Centre, the Development Co-operation Directorate, the Sahel and West Africa Club, and beyond. I would like to acknowledge the leadership and commitment of Deputy Secretary General Doug Frantz, who is leading the charge on the SDGs here at the OECD, and who has overseen the preparations for today’s Forum.

Allow me also to extend a special welcome to Her Excellency Amina Mohamed, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations. Amina is a regular visitor to the OECD, one of the architects of the 2030 Agenda, and a strong partner in our work. Amina – it is a privilege to welcome you back to the OECD in your new role. Our partnership with the United Nations has grown from strength to strength since the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, and we continue to intensify our co-operation under the able leadership of Antonio Guterres.

This year’s Forum focuses on the partnerships that will be crucial to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. These partnerships extend well beyond governments. And it is for this reason that I am particularly pleased to welcome Amy Jadesimi, CEO of Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics, as well as Alain Papiasse, Deputy C.O.O. of BNP Paribas to this opening session.

We urgently need to build on the momentum of 2015

The global community can be proud of its achievements in 2015. Less than two years ago, we collectively delivered an ambitious plan to better the lives of billions of people. The SDGs, the Paris Agreement, the Addis Ababa Agenda for Action – all of them were major achievements.

Yet over the months that followed, the spirit of these agreements has come under threat. Developments in Europe and North America in particular have brought with them uncertainty. The emergence of protectionism and populism, doubts over the benefits of globalisation, and the erosion of trust in governments seems – at least in some parts of the world – to have cast a shadow over the achievements of 2015. Inequalities are rampant. The gap between winners and losers continues to widen.

Today, over 800 million people still live in extreme poverty. People in small, fragile and conflict affected countries are adversely affected. Inequality still persists and large disparities remain in access to health and education services, and other assets.

We must correct this course in 2017. We have an opportunity to listen to countries and – crucially – to people – and to chart a future that is both inclusive and sustainable.

Public and private must join forces to deliver on the promises of 2015

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The responsibility to deliver on the 2030 Agenda is a collective one. No-one can go it alone. This means not only whole-of-government approaches, but also whole-of-society approaches.

Estimates of the resources necessary to finance the 2030 Agenda run in the trillions. And it is clear that delivering on the SDGs is not only about public investments.

Foreign aid is – and will remain – a critical resource in financing the SDGs. In a week or so, the OECD will release its ODA figures for 2016. And while it’s still too early to tell for sure, it is likely that 2016 will show a slight increase again on the aid effort recorded in the previous two years – already an all-time high.

In all of this, we should not forget that collective aid levels are only on the order of some 130 to 140 billion Dollars. And only six DAC countries have met their 0.7% commitments. Others must show leadership, and they must do so as a matter of some urgency.

This year, we will also release figures on private philanthropic support for development, collecting data from more than 70 foundations worldwide. Our preliminary results suggest that this support totalled over 8.5 billion USD in 2015.

While aid is an important part of the solution, we should not lose sight of the importance of a vibrant private sector for development. For it is the private sector that creates jobs, that spurs innovation, and that grows economies.

In developing countries, nine out of ten employment opportunities are created by private enterprise. Private flows to developing countries, including FDI, stand at around USD 300 billion a year, dwarfing ODA.

We need our partners in business to play their role fully in shaping the future. A future free of poverty; a future ripe with opportunity for all; and a future that balances human wellbeing with planetary constraints. Governments can and must do their but to create a conducive environment for business. This means fair regulation, predictable tax systems, and level playing fields. They need to redouble efforts to end corruption, illicit flows, and tax avoidance by corporations, the impact of which is most felt in developing countries.

The OECD will redouble its efforts in support of the 2030 Agenda

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The OECD is here to help. As I have often said before, in the Oscars of the SDGs, we aspire to win the prize for best performing actor. No more, no less.

Last year, we launched the OECD’s Action Plan on the SDGs, which sets out our commitment to putting our expertise and tools at the disposal of countries as they step up efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda. Only yesterday, we met with Members and Partner governments to take stock of progress and share experiences.

Our work on investment, tax, SMEs, global value chains, and responsible business can contribute to shaping the type of globalisation that benefits everyone. Initiatives such as the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation – which we support along with UNDP – can also play a crucial role in bringing governments, business and civil society around the table to take stock of challenges and, crucially, identify solutions.

The OECD’s Development Centre will also continue to play its role in bringing together a wide range of stakeholders through initiatives such as its Emerging Markets Network (EmNet), and its Network of Foundations (NetFwd).

In the area of development finance, we will redouble our efforts to ensure that public funds play a catalytic role in development. Our work on developing TOSSD (Total Official Support for Sustainable Development) is just one way in which we will do this. We are also working to prepare the first ever OECD Global Outlook on Financing for Development, which will put more and better data at the fingertips of policymakers and business leaders alike.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have a collective responsibility to deliver on the commitments of 2015. And we will need to fight harder than ever before in today’s climate. We have no choice. Future generations depend on us. I hope you use today’s Forum to take stock of progress, to identify solutions, and to find ways of scaling up. Together, we must deliver Better Policies for Better Lives.

Thank you.



See also

Brochure: Agenda 2030 - Better Policies for 2030 - An OECD Action Plan on the Sustainable Development Goals (pdf)

OECD work on development

OECD work on financing for sustainable development


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