Now more than ever, the digital economy is the economy. Digital technologies, or Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), are boosting trade, innovation, entrepreneurship, and with them growth and social wellbeing. Those benefits depend on openness. Openness has technical, economic and social dimensions, from open standards for core technologies and protocols, and competitively priced access for users, to the respect for human rights, freedom of expression and privacy. In essence, openness enables people to access, and do more things with, digital technologies: start a business online, create new products and business processes or revolutionise existing ones, express opinions, raise capital, share knowledge and ideas, conduct research, interact with government, improve skills, and much more. 

Connectivity is the foundation for the digital economy. The Internet has already connected more than three billion users across the globe and about 14 billion devices. 

©Charlotte Moreau

Sanctions need to be imposed on offshore centres to make money laundering more expensive. And, in response to shell companies investing their wealth in the London and New York property markets, French stocks and German bonds, a worldwide financial register should also be created. 

I’m sure you’ve all heard about “the open Internet.” The expression builds upon a rich pedigree of the term “open” in various contexts. It gives the impression that “open” is some positive attribute, and when we use the expression of the “open Internet” it seems that we're lauding it in some way. But are we, and if so, in what way?

The rapid rise of a new generation of connected, intelligent devices—collectively known as the Internet of Things, or IoT—is more than just the latest digital enabler to impact organisations of all sizes. The IoT presents vast opportunities for governments and businesses to improve internal efficiencies, serve their customers or constituents better, and enter new markets or provide new services. Such services will transform the way we work and live every day. As the IoT develops, it is essential that security-by-design be a core feature of the connected device ecosystem.

©David Rooney, originally for OECD Observer No 220, April 2000. All OECD Observers since 1962 are on www.oecd-ilibrary.org

Four decades after their adoption, the OECD’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises have never been more relevant to ensuring that businesses behave responsibly, wherever they operate.

If there is a silver lining to the 2008 financial crisis, it is that it was a catalyst for the unprecedented progress we have made in building robust international tax standards for the interconnected global economy of the 21st century.

In 2011 the Social Movement for Public Education led the biggest demonstrations since Pinochet’s dictatorship in Chile. Since then, one of the main campaigns in Chilean society has been for the recognition of education as a social right, under the slogan of “free, quality, public education” (educación pública, gratuita y de calidad).

©Charlotte Moreau

With the Sustainable Development Goals, the world has set itself ambitious targets for the next 15 years. But ambition will also be essential if we are to collect and process the data needed for monitoring the goals. Thanks to more than half a century of experience, the OECD is well-placed to support this global project.

©AFP

When it comes to global wealth inequality, we know how bad it’s getting, but what do we know about who is responsible? When Oxfam reports that 1% of the world population owns more than the other 99% put together, the question arises: who or what is making the rich so much richer, and the poor so much poorer?

Amoral fibre: Michael Douglas as Gordan Gekko in “Wall Street”, and Leonado di Caprio as Jordan Belfort in “The Wolf of Wall Street”. ©20th Century Fox/DPA/AFP; ©Archives du 7eme Art/PHOTO12/AFP

When I was interviewing 200 bankers and banking staff working in Europe's financial centre the City of London, perhaps the most telling was the language. Not so much the profanities– though there were many of those–nor the technical stuff and three-letter acronyms (TLAs). Most striking were terms that seemed designed to sidestep any possibility of ethical discussion. When discussing their banks’ use of loopholes in the tax code to help corporations and rich people legally evade taxes, bankers used words such as “tax optimisation” or “tax-efficient structures”. Financial lawyers and regulators who went along with whatever banks propose were “business-friendly”; cases of proven fraud or abuse became “mis-selling” and exploiting inconsistencies between two countries’ regulatory systems was 'regulatory arbitrage'.

©Ivan Alvarado/REUTERS

The world cannot resolve today’s development challenges with purely national approaches. We need to complement them with local approaches, too. We live in an era of enormous transformations, in which our traditional political structures and forms of democratic participation must adapt. That means casting a bigger focus than ever on the important role of local power and communities. Local territories and cities are essential players in the pursuit of a just and sustainable development, and their voices must be given more sway in international forums.

With internet and technology use constantly expanding, data abound. So many data are collected and stored every day that we are seeing new jobs and entire sectors emerging just to deal with them all. Data-Driven Innovation explores the potential uses for and issues of this era of “big data”, providing a resource from which to see the big picture, with the promises and risks for well-being and productivity. 

The 30% Club is a group of company chairmen, chairwomen and CEOs committed to achieving better gender balance at all levels of their organisations through voluntary actions.

A growing economy means increased need for office space, housing and infrastructure. Can Ireland meet that demand? 

Handewi Purwati Saliem, Director, Indonesian Center for Agriculture Socio Economic and Policy Studies (ICASEP) Handewi Purwati Saliem

Agriculture faces a challenging future. The world’s population is rising and pressures on natural resources are mounting, while environmental issues such as climate change loom large.

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Over the past 20 years, support provided to agricultural producers in 49 countries analysed by the OECD has been following a downward trend. 

Becoming an entrepreneur has become increasingly popular since the economic meltdown of 2008, not least in Europe.

©Roy Philippe/HEMIS.FR

How to improve water systems is one challenge; financing them is another. Public authorities in most countries play the main role in implementing and funding water infrastructure, but it is a model that is under increasing pressure, with government budgets stretched and banks still prudent about issuing credit. 

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Are digital tools simplifying our interactions with public authorities? From document browsing to downloading of forms as well as administrative procedures, governments in most of OECD countries now offer a wide range of online services. 

The ancient Roman scholar Marcus Terentius Varro once wrote, “Divine Nature gave the fields, human art built the cities.” The adage is still very relevant at the turn of the 21st century. Nowadays, nearly two-thirds of the population of the OECD area lives in cities. Ten years from now there are expected to be about 500 “megacities”, each one home to over 1 million inhabitants. How do cities govern themselves as they expand beyond their boundaries?

California dreamin' at the World Agricultural Expo in February 2015 ©David McNew/Getty Images/AFP

Investing in infrastructure for water is important, but how we govern water is more critical than ever. 

Policies that are not aligned with efforts to fight global warming risk hindering the transition to a low-carbon economy, and can worsen climate change. They should be addressed. 

"Regional authorities in Africa are now getting involved in the fight against climate change by making concrete commitments."

Interview with Jeannot Ahoussou-Kouadio, President of the Assembly of Regions and Districts of Côte d’Ivoire (ARDCI)

Luke MacGregor/Reuters

As the dust settles after the UK general election, let’s remember that voting at the ballot box is not an innate right enjoyed by everyone. Indeed, although the number of democracies across the world has spiked from 48 in 1989 up to 95 today, billions of people are still living in non-democratic, authoritarian regimes.

©Julien Daniel/OECD

The promotion of responsible business conduct has taken an important step forward with the launch of a new reporting framework. Businesses now have no excuse for not explaining how they’re meeting their human rights obligations. 

©Reuters/ Eric Thayer

There is hardly a government around the world that has not yet felt the impact of social media on how it communicates and engages with citizens.

On receiving my copy of Lobbyists, Governments and Public Trust, Volume 3, I rushed straight to Chapter 15, History of Slovenian lobbying regulations at a glance (and who wouldn’t?).

©Alamy

In September the OECD presented its first package of recommendations to the G20 for an international approach to stopping artificial tax base erosion and profit shifting. Seven recommendations were proposed as part of the 15-point BEPS Action Plan.

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    July 2016: OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría visits the “Nizip” refugee camp, situated between Gaziantep and the Turkish-Syrian border, accompanied by Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek. The camp accommodates a small number of the 2.75 million Syrians currently registered in Turkey, mostly outside the camps. In his tour of the camp, Mr Gurría visits a school, speaks with refugees and gives a short interview.
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  • How sustainable is the ocean as a source of economic development? The Ocean Economy in 2030 examines the risks and uncertainties surrounding the future development of ocean industries, the innovations required in science and technology to support their progress, their potential contribution to green growth and some of the implications for ocean management.
  • OECD Environment Director Simon Upton presented a talk at Imperial College London on 21 April 2016. With the world awash in surplus oil and prices languishing around US$40 per barrel, how can governments step up efforts to transform the world’s energy systems in line with the Paris Agreement?
  • Happy 10th birthday to Twitter. This 2008 OECD Observer interview with Henry Copeland said you’d do well.
  • The OECD Gender Initiative examines existing barriers to gender equality in education, employment, and entrepreneurship. The gender portal monitors the progress made by governments to promote gender equality in both OECD and non-OECD countries and provides good practices based on analytical tools and reliable data.
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  • Message from the International Space Station to COP21

  • COP21 Will Get Agreement With Teeth: OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría on Bloomberg

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  • If we want to reach zero net emissions by the end of the century, we must align our policies for a low-carbon economy, put a price on carbon everywhere, spend less subsidising fossil fuels and invest more in clean energy. OECD at #COP21 – OECD statement for #COP21
  • They are green and local --It’s a new generation of entrepreneurs in Kenya with big dreams of sustainable energy and the drive to see their innovative technologies throughout Africa. blogs.worldbank.org
  • Pole to Paris Project
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  • Climate: What's changed, what hasn't, what we can do about it.
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  • In the long-run, the EU benefits from migration, says OECD Head of International Migration Division Jean-Christophe Dumont.
  • Is technological progress slowing down? Is it speeding up? At the OECD, we believe the research from our Future of ‪Productivity‬ project helps to resolve this paradox.
  • Is inequality bad for growth? That redistribution boosts economies is not established by the evidence says FT economics editor Chris Giles. Read more on www.ft.com.
  • Catherine Mann, OECD Chief Economist, explains on Bloomberg why "too much bank lending can slow economic growth".
  • Interested in a career in Paris at the OECD? The OECD is a major international organisation, with a mission to build better policies for better lives. With our hub based in one of the world's global cities and offices across continents, find out more at www.oecd.org/careers .

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