Green growth and sustainable development

60th Anniversary of the OECD - Leaders’ Conversations "A Transformative Recovery: Forging a New Consensus for Economic, Social and Environmental Progress", 14 December 2020


Opening remarks by Angel Gurría,

Secretary-General, OECD

Paris, France, 14 December 2020

President Macron, President Sánchez, President Michel, Director-General Azoulay, Distinguished guests:

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you today to this commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the signing of the OECD Convention.

The OECD’s roots lie in the Marshall Plan, that brilliant demonstration of the fact that economies are interlinked and that we have a shared interest in everyone’s prosperity. The plan gave rise to the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC) in 1948 and its successor, the OECD, in 1960, as a collective response to the period of non-cooperation in the 1920s and 1930s, which led to the Great Depression, trade conflicts and ultimately war.

The OECD was part of a broader effort to entrench a rules-based international order to promote global economic development and improve the well-being of people everywhere.

Sixty years later, these aspirations still deserve to be celebrated and reaffirmed. During the intervening period, the OECD has established itself as a reference for objective analysis, the sharing of best practices, the production of reliable data and recommendations for public policies.

This OECD was often ahead of its time. Already in 1971, it established its Environment Directorate, the first international organisation to do so; published the first Migration Outlook more than forty years ago; launched PISA in 2000, which became the world’s reference for education systems; and warned about inequalities in our report "Growing Unequal?" in 2008. We celebrated these and other achievements at the 50th anniversary in 2011. 
In the 10 years since then, the OECD has continued to advance and evolve, even faster than ever. We have been guided by five main objectives.

First, we have put people at the centre of policymaking. From our Inclusive Growth, our Green Growth and our Gender initiatives, to the creation of the OECD Centre for Well-being, Inclusion, Sustainability and Equal Opportunity (WISE), to the Better Life Index and to Green Growth indicators, the OECD has led the way in linking policies to the key objective of people’s well-being.

Second, we have evolved from a think tank to a “do tank”, helping governments design and implement better policies for better lives.

Third, we worked hard to update and improve our analytical frameworks. The New Approaches to Economic Challenges initiative, known as NAEC, which grew out of our collective failure to anticipate the Global Financial Crisis in 2008, has improved our understanding of systemic risks and resilience.

A fourth key priority has been to develop and strengthen the OECD’s standards and to broaden countries’ adherence to them. The OECD has developed more than 450 legal instruments, many of which have been updated and upgraded. Key recent examples include the OECD Principles on Artificial Intelligence, adopted last year, and the 2018 Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS).

We have also worked relentlessly to increase the global reach of the Organisation. Since 2010, seven new Members have joined, and Costa Rica will follow soon. Six countries (Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, Peru and Romania) have been waiting almost four years for an answer on their request for membership. We have intensified our engagement with non-members, through our work with Key Partners, our country and regional programmes, and the work of our Development Cluster.

We have also, since 2008, intensified our collaboration with the G20 and the G7 and have advanced major international initiatives, such as the drive for global tax transparency, the 25 by 25 gender target, and the G20 / OECD Principles on Corporate Governance.

This progress has been put to the test in the current crisis. And I am pleased to say that the OECD delivered. We have mobilised our multi-disciplinary expertise, and bolstered coordination efforts, to help governments limit the impact of the crisis on people, better anticipate uncertain futures, and raise the resilience of both economies and societies.

We have done this through bilateral policy dialogues with Leaders, with Ministers, through our COVID-19 digital hub, three Ministerial roundtables and our Ministerial Council Meeting under the leadership of President Sánchez of Spain, where our Members charted a path to a strong, resilient, inclusive and sustainable recovery reflected in the first fully agreed Ministerial Statement in four years.

Dear friends,

As we reflect on past achievements at this critical time, we must also look to the future. The challenges that lie ahead for this Organisation and its Members are greater than ever.

Not only must we overcome the current crisis, we also need to address climate change and the challenges threatening biodiversity, the oceans, water, etc.; we must manage the digital transformation; adapt to an ageing of the population, and fight inequalities.

As we move forward together, rest assured that the OECD remains committed to working with all stakeholders to design, develop and implement better policies for better lives.

Thank you

President Macron, President Sánchez, now please join me in unveiling the plaque for the commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the signing of the OECD Convention.


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