International co-operation is the surest means of building better policies for better lives
Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the OECD
We live in challenging times for international co-operation. Against a background in which the voices of protectionism and nationalism seem to be gaining strength, at the OECD we are standing firm in our support for openness and collaboration as the surest means of building better policies for better lives. Otherwise we risk undoing many of the achievements we have accomplished together as an international community since the OECD was formed 55 years ago.
Evidence, persuasion and power: Diplomats in international organisations
Aleksander Surdej, Ambassador of Poland to the OECD
Did you know that each of the OECD’s 35 member countries is represented by a mission with full diplomatic status? The size of these OECD delegations varies by country size, but each one has a permanent representative at ambassadorial level, including this author. Together we make up the OECD Council that oversees the work programme set by member countries for the organisation. But our role goes beyond mere representation.
Creative multilateralism: Stronger collaboration for all
The international system stands at a critical juncture, facing slow global economic growth, rising inequalities and challenges to the rules-based global order that has underpinned decades of peace and prosperity. Many governments are working to recalibrate their global engagement and do what they can to safeguard an open, progressive world.
Paradise lost: The imminent fall of tax havens
Clara Young, OECD Observer
With the latest slew of financial scandals revealed in the Paradise Papers, people may think it is business as usual for tax avoiders and evaders. Not so, said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, who told the press that these tax practices are “a legacy that is fast being dismantled.”
Green budgeting can spur governments to improve our planet’s bottom line
Ronnie Downes, OECD Budgeting & Public Expenditures Division
Ever hear of triple-bottom line accounting? This is what businesses use to go beyond the usual financial balance sheet to ensure their accounts reflect environmentally and socially responsible profits and loss.
Beer, conflict and compensation: Heineken-Congo agreement
Roel Nieuwenkamp, Chair of the OECD Working Party on Responsible Business Conduct
Heineken’s agreement with Congolese workers sets excellent example of dispute settlement on responsible business conduct. Details of the agreement between Heineken and the former Congolese workers, facilitated by the Dutch NCP, are confidential, but the overall outcome is public. All parties describe it as satisfactory and civil society even hailed it as “historic”.
Bribes don't pay
OECD Observer databank
Anyone looking for proof that international agreements work should look at the OECD Anti-bribery Convention. One reason is investment. In fact, countries that adhere to the convention invest more abroad than those that have not joined.
Tax Inspectors Without Borders: Leveling the Playing Field in Liberia
Launched in 2015 by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and the United Nations Development Programme, Tax Inspectors Without Borders sends experienced auditors to developing countries, where they work side-by-side with local officials on complex audits of multinational enterprises.
Rethinking trade and globalisation to benefit everyone
Luca Visentini, General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC)
Luca Visentini explains the trade union perspective on global trade rules, calling for a preventive rather than a compensatory approach when designing economic models.
Improving life in France’s poor neighbourhoods
Nicola Brandt, OECD Economics Department
While overall poverty is relatively low in France, it can be highly concentrated at the neighbourhood level. In some cases, 40% of households in such neighbourhoods are below the relative poverty line. The French government deploys special education, employment, business and safety measures in these areas.
More effort needed to make the grade on gender equality
Valerie Frey, OECD Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs
OECD countries and key emerging economies have made headway in closing gender gaps, but not nearly enough. Gender equality is still a long way off. This is the latest assessment of gender parity in education, employment, entrepreneurship, and public life in The Pursuit of Gender Equality: An Uphill Battle.
Trust in parliament
Balázs Gyimesi, OECD Observer
“Sail, sail thy best, ship of democracy, […] With thee Time voyages in trust,” wrote American poet Walt Whitman in his poem “Song of democracy”. But do we trust democracy to take us in the right direction? In European countries, there is a clear relationship between how satisfied we are with democracy and how much we trust its most important institution–parliament.
Don’t give up
OECD Observer databank
The deep recession of 2007-08 hit young people hard, but it hit foreign-born youth even harder. While 13.9% native-born 15 to 29-year-olds in OECD countries were neither employed nor in education or training (NEET) in 2015, the rate for foreign-born in that demographic was 21.5%.
Risks that matter
What do people think their future holds? To better understand people’s worries, the OECD conducted a survey, called Risks That Matter, asking 20,000 people in 19 countries what they thought were the biggest risks facing them and their family.
Rethinking the social contract
Minouche Shafik, Director, London School of Economics
There have always been differences in society but they feel greater today than at any time in the recent past. Minouche Shafik, Director at the London School of Economics, explains why it is time to rethink the social contract.
The Triple Challenge: Inequality, insecurity and immobility in a globalised world
Globalisation has driven worldwide change over the past four decades: change that has benefitted many but disrupted and disadvantaged others. Tim Costello, former chair of the C20 during Australia’s presidency of the G20, explores the global context of this contradiction and consideres how policy makers can respond to help realise every citizen’s aspirations.
Big data, big responsibilities
Bill Below, OECD
Big data is in the spotlight again, this time with controversies surrounding Facebook’s handling of personal data raising eyebrows. As technologies and social media continue to evolve, are users’ best interests being looked after? Bill Below looks at some of the issues.
Are you open?
Alison Rygh, OECD Public Governance Directorate
While Open Data Day celebrates openness and transparency for better public policymaking, and showcases the products and innovations that come from working collaboratively on open data, it’s also a day for reminding governments that we care about how they manage our personal data.
Privacy and your digital future
Tomer Michelzon, OECD Observer
The healing power of information technology
Interview with David Blumenthal, President and CEO, The Commonwealth Fund
The primary ethical duty of respecting patient autonomy means that it is the patient who calls the tune, using the information and advice that we as doctors provide.
The rising cost of cyber attacks
Balázs Gyimesi, OECD Observer
“Sorry, our website is temporarily unavailable.” While this message may cause you some inconvenience when surfing the web, it’s costly for companies. For over 50% of firms, the unavailability of their sites can cost as much as US$1,000 per minute. And technical shortcomings are not the only reason websites go down–targeted cyber attacks are too.
The brave new world of Aritifical Intelligence
Artificial intelligence is a game-changer. It could boost global productivity from 0.8% to 1.4% a year. But with thorny issues like job automation and data privacy, does AI-spurred growth come at a cost?
Leaving at Lightspeed: The number of senior women in tech is decreasing
Tarah Wheeler, Cybersecurity Policy Fellow, New America
The number of women in tech in the United States has declined steadily since 1984; further, women are underrepresented in the field in the majority of countries. Tarah Wheeler, author of Women in Tech, explains why this matters, why you should care and what you can do to help.
How Blockchain can change voting: the Colombian Peace plebiscite
Charlotte van Ooijen, Policy Analyst , OECD
In order to give Colombian expatriates a voice in the 2016 peace plebiscite and test the potential of Blockchain technology in electoral processes, the tech non-profit Democracy Earth Foundation set up a digital process that allowed Colombian expats, who were unable to vote through the official process, an opportunity to participate in a plebiscite on whether to approve a peace treaty.
Digital Ledgers: The Future of Money
Sameer Ismail, Chief Risk Officer, Coinify
With all the hysteria around Bitcoin and other virtual currencies, you’d be forgiven for thinking they are either a sign of the apocalypse or yet another actualisation of the ever-familiar boom-and-bust cycle of economics that has been central to our collective psyche since the 1800s. The situation is further muddied by blockchain mania, with the distributed ledger technology being heralded as the solution to all woes with no real practical applications yet apparent.
"Creating better humans will always be more important than creating smarter machines”
Garry Kasparov, Author, Future of Humanity Institute
There could be no better time for the OECD to address the issue of intelligent machines and human policies. AI is not science fiction, it is the present, and it will affect more aspects of our lives every day. Seen and unseen, intelligent machines and algorithms are performing more and more tasks, often with little or no human guidance at all.