Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio, Italy's minister for the environment, and chair of the 2008 OECD meeting of environment ministers ©Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi

Climate change is a pressing challenge, requiring leadership and determined action. At the same time, people are concerned that policies do not put them at an economic disadvantage or unnecessarily undermine their welfare.

Can governments balance these concerns? The OECD’s Environment Policy Committee meets at ministerial level on 28-29 April 2008 under the theme of global competitiveness. Some non-OECD developing countries will also participate, as will stakeholders from business, labour and civil society.

After a euphoric decade, reforms to consolidate recent gains and confront challenges ahead are needed. Are Latin America’s economic fortunes changing? Over the last decade, policymakers and the general public became used to good news from this lively continent. Latin America was abuzz with optimism, buoyed by strong growth and rising incomes.

Mexico Snapshot 2013

Find key economic figures and trends for Mexico from OECD Yearbook 2013

©Reuters/Stringer Mexico

Nearly two decades ago, in May 1994, Mexico became the first Latin American country to join the OECD. Not long after, in 1996, the secretary general of the OECD at the time, Jean-Claude Paye and the then Mexican minister of foreign affairs and current secretary-general, Angel Gurría, opened the OECD Mexico Centre. Initially, our job was to promote OECD publications in Mexico and throughout Latin America. But that mission has grown since, to include “disseminating, promoting and making accessible better policies, to governments, economic and social actors throughout Latin America, for better lives of their citizens”. 

©Government of Mexico

We live in a globalised world where a significant event occurring today in a given place has direct and immediate consequences in the rest of the world. Hunger in Africa and the political turmoil in the Maghreb have translated into new migration flows towards countries of greater relative development. 

Mexico’s president, Felipe Calderón, leads inauguration of a drinking water plant in 2010 ©Alfredo Guerrero/Notimex/AFP

OECD Observer: You are launching Water Agenda to 2030. What pressures led to these reforms?

The budget deficit for the OECD area as a whole probably peaked at around 7.5% of GDP in 2010. That’s the equivalent of some US$3.3 trillion. A decrease to around 6.1% of GDP is expected in 2011, which will still be high by historical standards. But while the need to restore public finances is a global challenge, the state of government balance sheets varies widely. Economic starting points, causes of deficits and budgetary strategies also vary. Some countries have started down the road of austerity, others are maintaining stimulus and plan to rein in their deficits from 2011.

In December 2010 we asked finance ministers from a broad selection of countries facing different fiscal challenges–France, Germany, Indonesia, Ireland, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand and South Africa–to answer this question: “What actions is your government taking to bolster public finances, while upholding growth and services?”

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