Development aid fell by 4% in real terms in 2012, following a 2% fall in 2011. Though this decline must be reversed, it is not the only issue to address. Also being questioned is how that aid is measured in the first place. As Jon Lomoy explains, while it is high time to revisit the concept of official development assistance, the outcome of the discussion will influence the effectiveness of development policy over the next decade or more.(932 words)
The current crisis has continued to affect people’s lives across the world, and nowhere is this more evident than in the deteriorating labour market in many countries. Young people have been hit particularly hard and risk being permanently scarred from joblessness and even exclusion.(828 words)
As humans, we face a constant internal conflict between immediate gratification and more prudent living. This conflict is also apparent in society. How can we ensure that the homo economicus within us takes the decisions that best affect our lives, and economies?(43 words)
Science and technology play a central role in our society. They are part of everybody’s life, they help to tackle the grand challenges of humankind and they create innovation and jobs and improve quality of life. Science and technology are part of our culture, and in essence define us as a species that “wants to know”–hence why we are called Homo sapiens. But do we really give science its proper value when it comes to taking political decisions?(756 words)
In 2002 Henry Copeland, chief of Blogads and Pressflex.com, wrote about how blogs, largely unknown at the time, would change web writing and publishing forever. He was right. Then in 2008 in these pages, he told us to bet on Twitter several months before it took off (the OECD opened its first accounts in April 2009). So where is the information world taking us now? Henry provides some fresh thoughts.(645 words)
People create policy, but underpinning their work, and in some ways hidden from view, is a well-developed, smart information and communications infrastructure. It is a fundamental driver of progress.(697 words)
In a globalised world, social unrest occurring far away can have transnational ramifications, with effects nearer to home. This has been evident in recent years with movements such as Occupy and Indignados, and the Arab Spring. Unrest could also be the consequence of a terrorist attack, but even the threat of one can lead to widespread panic. The upshot can be disorder and economic turmoil.(346 words)
The Internet is much more than a multi-billion dollar industry. The world’s economy now depends on this global “cloud”, which was once little more than a means of connecting different computers over a phone network. Today, the digital age has vast new potential to serve as a force of progress in the global economy, but better, smarter public policies will be needed for that potential to become reality.(339 words)
Making strides in scientific innovation is no longer an initiative of just a few select high-income countries. Research and innovation have become increasingly democratised; indeed, Asia’s emerging economies are now gaining prominence as world hubs of scientific research. While the United States remains at the top in terms of the volume of scientific publications produced and collaborations made, these countries are eager to develop their own innovation capabilities, and strengthen their research and academic partnerships.(212 words)
Getting information and communications “right” has always been a necessary condition for delivering sound policy advice; today, there are many more possibilities to generate and to share evidence-based policy insights, but there are also many more competing messages and messengers. Here are two examples.(328 words)
In May 2012 the OECD Ministerial Council endorsed the OECD Strategy on Development, describing it as an essential tool for adapting the organisation’s work to fast changing realities. What are the factors behind the new strategy and what are the aims?(949 words)
After five years of crisis, the global economy is weakening again. In this we are not facing a new pattern. Over the recent past, signs of emergence from the crisis have more than once given way to a renewed slowdown or even a double-dip recession in some countries. The risk of a new major contraction cannot be ruled out. A recession is ongoing in the euro area, the US economy is growing but below what was expected earlier this year, and a slowdown has surfaced in many emerging market economies.(664 words)
The current economic climate has put increased pressure on young firms trying to raise money and develop their businesses. Banks remain reluctant to provide loans to start-ups and venture capital firms prefer to invest in later stage companies. Now, a growing class of experienced entrepreneurs and business people–known as “angel investors”–is stepping in to fill this funding gap. Could this be encouraged further?(830 words)
Wherever I go, in every country, women are demanding that their voices are heard. From the Arab states, where women continue to stand up for freedom and democracy, to all regions of the globe, the calls for equal rights, opportunity and participation are spreading and have brought significant change over the years.(1251 words)
In a relatively short time, microfinance has become a major tool of international development. But too many potential entrepreneurs still have little or no access to financing. Innovation and government policy have a central role to play in correcting this imbalance.(952 words)
The continuity of our societies and the sustainability of our planet will necessarily depend on how we, as a collective, can devise the solutions to the paramount and multifaceted difficulties that have arisen from the changes wrought by the Industrial Revolution. In fact, if we are to successfully transform these challenges into opportunities, what we need is nothing short of another revolution. And in today’s revolution the bayonets, unquestionably, need to be green.(1008 words)
Education for all
Young people from poorer families are badly underrepresented in higher education. That risks exposing them to a lifetime of reduced earnings and undermines the foundations of wider economic growth. What can be done? Economically disadvantaged students benefit from a mix of grants and loans in third-level education, but they also need better support from the earliest years of their school careers.
The Great Recession showed clearly that no social group or country is totally immune from the impact of a major economic slowdown, no matter how high its levels of education. But it also showed that, even in times of economic crisis, high skill levels offer some of the best protection for both economies and individuals.
Ultimately the economic crisis is about people, says Espen Barth Eide, Norway’s minister of foreign affairs. That is why respecting human rights and adherence to democratic principles are fundamental when addressing the current economic crisis. We are in this together, so we need multilateral solutions more than ever.(975 words)
Transport is not only a fundamental driver of economic activity, it is a major sector in its own right. But while transport has suffered from the economic crisis, as echoed in downturns in trade and activity generally, it could be a source of recovery too. We asked José Viegas, head of International Transport Forum, to explain.(781 words)
A recipe for trust
Have the policy errors that contributed to the global economic crisis been rectified? Sharan Burrow, who heads the International Trade Union Confederation, shares her vision for building trust and restoring confidence in the countries still suffering from the crisis.
Time for an energy [r]evolution
We can’t use terms like “inclusive” and “green” as window dressing for the pursuit of economic growth as an end in itself. According to Greenpeace International’s chief, Kumi Naidoo, a real and profound change in how we think about growth is needed–one that doesn’t let special interests get in the way of creating a just, fair and sustainable economy with clean energy for all.
The cost of mistrust
Trust is at the heart of today’s complex global economy. But, paradoxically, trust is also in increasingly short supply in many of our societies, especially in our attitudes towards big business, parliaments and governments. This decline threatens our capacity to tackle some of today’s key challenges.
Climate change won't wait
The European Union may be facing some difficult economic challenges, but that's no excuse for not acting now to create an economy based on resource efficiency and low-carbon development. The benefits are potentially enormous, including lower greenhouse gas emissions, more efficient use of energy and resources, and rising growth and innovation.
Despite the repeated warnings about its effects on climate change, as well as resource depletion, the most recent projections from the World Energy Outlook 2009 show that coal will still remain the principal powergenerating fuel for decades to come. In fact, its usage is set to double by 2030, 5% more compared with pre-existing projections. The adjustment takes into account a projected 10% consumption increase in non-OECD Asia, as well as an 8% decrease in the OECD area. Nowadays, an additional 217 GW of coalfired capacity is being developed throughout the world, over 80% of which is located in non-OECD countries, mostly in China.(245 words)
There are good reasons why the public has lost confidence in banking and finance. Two issues in particular must be addressed before it can be restored– moral hazard and conflict of interest. Reforms should ensure that banks and bankers–not taxpayers–pay the price of failure and are held fully accountable for their actions.
Give youth a chance
Young people are being excluded from economic life by a combination of joblessness and barriers to the creation of start-ups. Unleashing the energy, entrepreneurial spirit and technological genius of the young is not just a moral imperative, but an economic necessity.
As efforts to restart the stalled Doha Development Round negotiations intensify, the policy focus on world trade, and, specifically, its relation to development aid and growth in poorer countries, has become more acute. Trade is a powerful engine for economic growth, as the OECD’s founders argued 50 years ago, and, as such, can contribute to reducing poverty. However, efforts to improve trade in developing countries are often hampered by domestic constraints, particularly a lack of adequate economic infrastructures, as well as institutional and organisational obstacles.(302 words)
How can we all learn from a crisis? Today, we find ourselves in a disappointing, if not altogether unexpected, predicament. The very governments who took bold and decisive action in the period of the financial crisis 2008-09 to bail out banks and keep financial markets alive now find themselves on the receiving end of severe punishment from financial markets. How could this be?(1497 words)
Microcredit has become a popular way to finance small businesses and local development projects, particularly in poorer countries. Economist, author, founder and first chairman of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Jacques Attali is founder of PlaNet Finance, which runs microfinance programmes in over 80 countries. In the run up to the OECD Forum in May 2011 where he is due to speak, Mr Attali talked to the OECD Observer.(908 words)
The financial crisis has taken a heavy toll on government finances and taxpayers are still footing the bill. Could private investors do more to help out? Mohamed El-Erian, CEO and co-CIO of PIMCO, believes they should. He explains to the OECD Observer.(991 words)
We are celebrating the OECD’s 50th anniversary during the tail-end of the worst financial and economic crisis of our lifetimes. It’s a good moment to take stock and to ask the right questions. Why couldn’t we avoid the crisis? Were the policies and the policy mix we promoted the right ones, and how can we adjust these polices to new realities? What is more, are we doing enough to prevent another crisis? Are our economic theories, our models and our assumptions still appropriate? How should our organisation’s work be adapted so that we continue fulfilling our founding mission of promoting better policies for better lives?(872 words)
Did globalisation contribute to the economic crisis and if so how? This is one of several interesting questions asked in Measuring Globalisation: OECD Economic Globalisation Indicators 2010. In snapshot mode, this book looks at the financial crisis, trade, technology and multinational enterprises, and asks how these may have influenced the proliferation of the crisis, just as they helped spread prosperity and wealth in the first place.(353 words)
As the OECD reaches 50, it must continue to become more relevant, useful and open within a new architecture of global governance, argues Angel Gurría, in this extract from remarks delivered following the renewal of his mandate as OECD secretary-general.*(1116 words)
Can greater use of information technology to manage whole healthcare systems help? The National Health Service Information Centre (NHS IC), England’s central, authoritative source of health and social care information for frontline decision makers, believes it can.(463 words)
The healthcare sector rarely features prominently in trade policy. This is unfortunate, since the enormous differences in healthcare costs between countries imply that there are large potential gains from increased trade, writes economist Dean Baker.(1243 words)
The number of people worldwide living in absolute poverty–the World Bank defines this as people surviving on less than $1.25 a day–has fallen by about half a billion since 1990. China is a major contributor to the decline: its absolute poverty fell from about 60% in 1990 to only around 16% in 2005. India, too, saw some progress, as poverty there fell from 60% to 42%.(214 words)
The road from conflict to peace and from destruction to development is far from smooth. In fact, research shows that half of all countries that have been ravaged by conflict are at war again within a decade. Transition Financing: Building a Better Response, part of the OECD’s Conflict and Fragility series of books, examines how the international community can help countries move from resolving conflicts to a lasting peace, grounded in what the authors describe as “sustainable development”. It involves a transition to greater national ownership and a greater capacity to ensure public safety and welfare.(394 words)
Where are we in the current economic crisis?