G20 Summit: Session on Digitalisation, Women’s Empowerment and Employment


Remarks by Angel Gurría

OECD Secretary-General

Hamburg, Germany, 8 July 2017

(As prepared for delivery) 


Chancellor Merkel, Distinguished Heads of State and Government

The G20 is suffering from ageing populations and declining productivity growth. While a pervasive technology revolution is accelerating globalisation.

  • 40% of people are connected to networks, compared to only 4% in 1995.

  • It only took 4 years for 25% of people in the US to own iPhones while it took around 35 years for telephones !

  • Commerce and business models are being radically transformed. Digital platforms — Uber, Instacart, Alibaba, Airbnb, Seamless, Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook, Google — are connecting vast numbers of consumers and producers, and changing the nature of work.

  • The Internet of Things is in full swing. By 2030, 8 billion people and 25 billion smart devices will be connected to one enormous network.

This dynamism offers innovations and efficiencies to kick start productivity for delivering strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth. But it is demanding and disruptive, and could deepen social and economic divides. We need to act now.

A well performing economy enables innovation, taking advantage of technological developments to benefit all, by empowering people to dare, to take risks, to invent, to reward creativity, and to incentivize connectivity.

It is a mistake to systematically think of the physical nature of states; borders for trade and tax policy, or fences to surround property. Challenges such as: cross-border data flows; protecting consumers and their privacy; setting standards; cyber security; fair and competitive dynamics in digital platforms, all require new collective approaches. Closing the gap between “Policy 1.0” and “Technology 4.0” is urgent, particularly addressing the impacts on consumers and workers.

The OECD is delighted to support the G20, including by delivering the Key Issues for Digital Transformation report and the Future of Work and Skills analysis. Congratulations to Germany for hosting the first ever meeting of G20 Ministers’ responsible for the digital economy, and preparing the G20 Roadmap for Digitalization: Policies for a Digital Future.

This work shows how necessary it is to put bridging the digital divides at the center of the agenda:

  • Firstly, by connecting people through affordable and reliable infrastructure. Some G20 members have almost ubiquitous household Internet access, whilst others lag, ranging from 99% down to 20%.

  • Secondly, by empowering people with skills and education, to enhance the quality of jobs and support people displaced to find new jobs. In the next 15-20 years, 9% of jobs across the OECD could be automated, and another 25% could be significantly disrupted. Students must be armed with literacy, numeracy, problem solving and basic ICT skills, as well as socio emotional skills, such as teamwork.

  • Thirdly, by supporting women and girls to harness digitalization and reinforcing efforts to reduce the gender gap in participation by 25% by 2025, through actions including:

    • the "eSkills4Girls’’ initiative

    • the "Women’s Entrepreneurship Facility”

    • sharing good practices on “bridging the digital gender divide’’, and

    • the G20 “Women’s Business Council”.

Beware! Girls must be protected. The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment reveals that social networks impact their self esteem. This cannot be a vehicle for stereotyping and aggression, but rather a means of empowerment.

Your leadership is vital to rebooting productivity — to imagining new futures and dragging public policies in from the analogue era — thereby ensuring that the benefits of growth are widely shared.



See also

OECD’s Gurría reaffirms need for global cooperation amid progress at G20 Summit

OECD and the G20

OECD going digital project 

OECD work on gender


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