Forum 2018 Issues: What brings us together?

Last year, at OECD Forum 2017, we joined forces to explore the deepening divides fragmenting our economies and societies. Together, we sought tangible solutions to bridge these divides, bringing divergent views together to find common purpose.

Building on these conversations, OECD Forum 2018 reflected on what brings us together, moving from diagnosis to action, and shaping solutions to build these much-needed bridges. 

While reflecting on the complexity of shaping policy in a post-truth world and identifying opportunities for civic engagement and co-creation with citizens, we focused on addressing these three interconnected issues:

  • International Co-operation
  • Inclusive Growth
  • Digitalisation

International Co-operation

Let's reimagine:

  • international co-operation for the 21st century

  • the importance for all stakeholders to co-create solutions to address global challenges

Read more articles on International Co-operation

Read more on International Co-operation

The Forum will be an opportunity to discuss solutions to the most pressing challenges that people face and none of us can solve alone. Importantly, it will also address how international co-operation needs to be “rebooted”, to work differently in the era of digitalisation, to deliver in a more inclusive manner, to ensure that the benefits are shared more widely.

The Forum will explore how international co-operation could be made more effective through greater inclusion of new actors across society, whether firms or civil society to allow us to better address inherently global challenges such as anti-corruption, development, digitalisation, climate change, migration, taxation, trade, and the need to rebuild trust in each other and in democratic institutions.

issues such as the transition to a low carbon economy, and protecting biodiversity, are per definition international challenges that we need to solve by working together. A key priority in this context is ensuring the conservation and sustainable use of ecosystems such as oceans.

The new connected world of today is producing data at a pace that is unprecedented in human history, which hold great promise as a source of innovation and economic growth, and as a transformative resource for social good. Effective data management can ensure that the public sector delivers better policies, and more tailored government services, accelerating work toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, improving more lives, empowering more communities, and strengthening and creating more inclusive societies.

However, access to data is constricted by legitimate considerations linked among others to competition and privacy, while more questions are being raised about using personal data for commercial and political purposes. So far, people have been willingly offering their data for free in exchange for access to technology services, but this is now increasingly questioned.

Inclusive Growth

Help us design solutions to:

  • ensure opportunity for all through better access to education, employment, healthcare and housing, making sure that growth is truly inclusive

  • promote gender equality and diversity, migrants’ integration, and intergenerational equity

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Read more on Inclusive Growth

OECD Forum 2018 will continue to place a central emphasis on inclusive growth, moving from diagnosis to actionable solutions, as many people still face a future where affordable, good quality housing, good health and secure employment just seem unimaginable, with 1 in 5 children living below the poverty line in some OECD countries. 

Part of the answers lie in:

  • addressing the growing divides in our societies
  • rethinking the systems that bind us together
  • helping people adjust to changing economic and social circumstance

The economic crisis and the refugee surge in Europe have fuelled anxiety in the public at large about the capacity of international, national and local authorities to manage immigration and ensure successful migrant integration in host communities. This anxiety is polarising views, and impacting political choices. 

Forum 2018 will again address the urban-rural divide, and notably the fact that though increasingly cities and urban areas are offering more economic opportunities and jobs, an equally high percentage of the population is confronted by poverty and lack of opportunities in cities and in more rural communities. 

Despite having higher rates of educational attainment than the generations before them, people under 25 are 60% more likely to be unemployed than the 25-54 age group. The under 25s are 20% less likely to vote than those aged over 55. The Forum will further explore why especially younger people are increasingly losing faith in democracy.

We foresee discussions on how best to foster the entrepreneurial ecosystem, providing support for SMEs and start-ups, allowing them to scale-up.

So let's engage with representatives of communities that have been literally and psychologically "left behind"
to have a better understanding of everyone's challenges
and ensure each community has a voice in finding solutions right for them


We will seek to address the need to:

  • bridge the gap between policy frameworks designed in an analogue world and the era of digitalisation

  • better understand and manage the implications of digitalisation for society and human progress

Read more articles on Digitalisation

Read more on Digitalisation

Forum 2018 will discuss the impacts of digitalisation driven by the enormous potential but also the challenges posed by artificial intelligence, big data, and the Internet of Things, which are rapidly changing all facets of our societies and economies.  

Conversations on the Forum Network and with various Forum stakeholders indicate that the future of work is a key concern. Too often reskilling is seen as the solution. But reskilling is expensive, even painful for older workers and may not always be effective. Comments received through the Forum Network have also highlighted concerns about the increased digitalisation of teaching, while emphasising the importance of a more human approach to education and accompanying students in building the resilience and leadership skills they will need to manage disruptive change.

Digitalisation allows for more flexible ways of working, improving the employability of disabled individuals and the use of big data for human resources, tackling unconscious bias in recruitment. Comments received from the Forum Network highlight concern about growing digital divides, and the importance of discussing key digital rights - access to personal data, the right to be forgotten, and the right to switch off.

Access to opportunities and essential social services is increasingly conditioned by digital skills, which raises the risk of deepening existing inequalities.

The digital transformation could potentially be a game-changer when it comes to gender equality, offering new ways for women to participate in the labour market, improving conditions for female entrepreneurship, access to financial markets and the reconcilability of job and family. But a lot more needs to be done to ensure that women can actually benefit from these possibilities. 

The Forum will also discuss enabling technologies such as blockchain, that have great potential in a growing number of fields beyond finance. These include: helping dispense humanitarian aid; providing access to finance for refugees; validating and authenticating voter registration; the sharing of health records; critical infrastructure security; supply chain management; and making pension and social security payments more efficient. 

As the digitalisation of our economies and societies continues to develop, new risks emerge alongside benefits, impacting potentially vulnerable public and private environments, where malicious uses of artificial intelligence and big data could pose important security threats, and have dangerous implications for democracies.