FORO ECONÓMICO DE MUJERES LATINOAMÉRICA: La Búsqueda de la Igualdad de Género: una Batalla Cuesta Arriba

Discurso de apertura de Gabriela Ramos

Señoras y señores,  

Es un placer reunirme con ustedes en tan inspirador foro y formar parte de esta comunidad que trabaja por una América Latina y mundo con igualdad de género. 

Como muchos de ustedes saben, la OCDE ha trabajado durante décadas para combatir la desigualdad de género, en particular a partir de 2011 cuando publicamos la Estrategia de Género y la Recomendación de la OCDE sobre la Igualdad de Género en Educación, Empleo y Emprendimiento, seguidas por la Recomendación de la OCDE de 2015 sobre la Igualdad de Género en la Vida Pública. 

Asimismo, la OCDE también jugó un papel fundamental en la inclusión de este tema en la agenda multilateral por primera vez durante la Presidencia australiana del G20 en 2014, cuando los líderes se comprometieron firmemente a reducir la brecha de género en la participación en la fuerza laboral en un 25% para 2025. 

No fue fácil, pues se trata de un grupo mayoritariamente masculino, centrado en temas “serios” vinculados con la economía mundial. ¡Muchos Sherpas incluso comentaron que el género no es un asunto que deba ser abordado por los líderes! 

Ahora bien, a medida que la economía mundial seguía registrando malos resultados, buscábamos nuevas fuentes de crecimiento, por ejemplo, al propiciar que las economías se beneficiaran del talento de las mujeres.  

La OCDE y la Organización Internacional del Trabajo (OIT) hicimos cálculos conjuntamente y demostramos que, si se lograba reducir 25% la brecha de género en la participación en la fuerza laboral para 2025, 100 millones de mujeres ingresarían en el mercado laboral. Esta conclusión atrajo el interés de los líderes. 

Desde entonces, todas las presidencias del G20 incluyeron el combate a la desigualdad de género en su agenda.  

No obstante, los avances han sido muy lentos. Aún recuerdo cuando, en mis inicios como Sherpa, empecé a percatarme de las brechas y la desigualdad de género que imperaban por doquier, como si me hubiera arrancado la venda de los ojos. Cuando comenzamos a darnos cuenta de las brechas, es muy difícil percibir algo más. 

Pero lo más grave de todo es la violencia y el feminicidio. Hoy, las mujeres aún enfrentan niveles de violencia inaceptablemente altos. Un tercio de las mujeres del mundo han sido víctimas de violencia doméstica y en América Latina 2,795 mujeres fueron asesinadas en 2017 por razones de género.  

En un estudio realizado recientemente en los países de la OCDE sobre las prioridades en materia de política de género, la lucha contra la violencia de género se reveló como una prioridad. 

El aspecto económico también sigue siendo apremiante. Las mujeres todavía reciben una remuneración considerablemente menor que la de los hombres. En la década pasada la brecha salarial de género disminuyó ligeramente en casi todos los países del G20, pero el promedio es aún de 17%, justo por encima de la cifra de 16% de la región de América Latina y el Caribe (ALC) y también mayor que el promedio de la OCDE, de cerca de 14%. 

Y la maternidad —¡pese a todos sus aspectos positivos!— se convierte en un castigo financiero para muchas mujeres, al contribuir a la desigual participación en el trabajo no remunerado e impedir que las mujeres se involucren de lleno en el mercado laboral. En los últimos 10 años aquí en América Latina la tasa de participación laboral de las mujeres se estancó en cerca de 50%, en comparación con el 75% de los hombres. 

¿Por qué? Porque los países latinoamericanos tienen algunas de las mayores brechas de género en el trabajo no remunerado.  

En América Latina las mujeres dedican cinco horas en promedio al día al trabajo no remunerado, en comparación con menos de dos horas en el caso de los hombres (cifra superior al promedio de la OCDE de cuatro horas para las mujeres y dos horas para los hombres). La OIT estima que en el mundo 606 millones de mujeres, o 41% de aquellas que se encuentran inactivas en la actualidad, están fuera del mercado laboral por responsabilidades familiares no remuneradas. 

Dichas brechas no son aisladas ni están relacionadas con capacidades o características intrínsecas de las mujeres; más bien, tienen su origen en estereotipos de género y normas muy arraigados e incorporados en nuestra cultura. 

Desde temprana edad los niños y las niñas son ubicados en la “casilla” azul o rosa, con sus correspondientes conductas y expectativas: las niñas son frágiles y bonitas, en tanto que los niños son valientes y osados.  

Esto puede ayudar a crear posturas de masculinidad potencialmente peligrosas que se autodefinen mediante el conflicto e incluso la violencia, pero también fomenta las brechas de género, en particular en los sectores de gran crecimiento como el de STEM (ciencias, tecnología, ingeniería y matemáticas) y las funciones de liderazgo político. 

Investigaciones realizadas por la OCDE por medio del Programa para la Evaluación Internacional de los Alumnos (PISA) indican que a los 15 años de edad, las niñas ya tienen dos veces menos probabilidades de aspirar a estudiar para ser ingenieras, científicas o arquitectas.  

No es de sorprender, por tanto, que en los países de la OCDE menos de uno de cada tres egresados del área de ingeniería y menos de uno de cada cinco egresados de informática sean mujeres.  

Esto es así pese al mayor nivel educativo logrado por mujeres y niñas, que ahora representan la mayoría de los egresados universitarios en  los países de la OCDE y pese a que, según conclusiones del programa PISA, las niñas superan a los niños en el tema de la solución de problemas en colaboración. 

Los estereotipos también abren una brecha de liderazgo. En los países de la OCDE, las mujeres constituyen la mayoría (58%) de los empleados del sector público, pero, en promedio, representan solo 29% de los congresistas y 28% de los puestos ministeriales.  

Las brechas de liderazgo también prevalecen de manera similar en el sector privado. Según la publicación OECD Corporate Governance Factbook 2019, la cual cubre 49 jurisdicciones, incluidos todos los países de la OCDE, del G20 y del Consejo de Estabilidad Financiera (FSB), solo el 10% de las jurisdicciones incluyen a las mujeres en al menos un tercio de los consejos de administración de las empresas que cotizan en bolsa.  

De las 49 jurisdicciones cubiertas, 21 tienen menos de 15% de mujeres en sus consejos de administración. Necesitamos que muchas más mujeres ocupen puestos de alto nivel para avanzar en la calidad de la gestión y mejorar el desempeño de las corporaciones. 

Mientras tanto, en todos los países de la OCDE, las mujeres tienen también cerca de la mitad de probabilidades que los hombres de ser emprendedoras, no porque carezcan de competencias, sino porque no tienen confianza en sus habilidades: solo un tercio de las mujeres dice tener competencias suficientes para abrir una empresa, en comparación con la mitad de los hombres.  

E incluso cuando logran arrancar un negocio, tienen menos probabilidades de hacerlo crecer. En los países de la OCDE los hombres emprendedores tienen dos veces más probabilidades que las mujeres de tener empleados.  

Estimaciones recientes sugieren que si se eliminara la brecha de género en la actividad empresarial, el PIB mundial podría aumentar hasta 2%, es decir, 1.5 billones de dólares estadounidenses.  

La buena noticia es que vamos progresando. Algunos países ya han conseguido reducir bastante las brechas de género. En todos los países del G20 se ha registrado un incremento de la participación de las mujeres en la fuerza laboral y ha habido reducciones de la brecha de género particularmente grandes en Japón, Argentina, Brasil y Corea. En cerca de la mitad de los miembros del G20, la reducción de la brecha de género coincide o supera la disminución prevista para alcanzar la mencionada meta. La disminución real fue considerablemente mayor que la proyectada en Australia, el Reino Unido y Alemania. 

Trabajar en estos temas nos ha ayudado a alternar herramientas eficaces, lo cual ayuda a impulsar los avances. Como sabemos, las cuotas son un ejemplo relevante.  

Basta observar lo que se logró en el Senado y en la Cámara de Diputados de México. Además, al solicitar estadísticas de desempeño, detectamos que la paridad de género ha aumentado la productividad de dichas cámaras en términos de promulgación de leyes.  

El permiso parental para ambos padres es también una herramienta clave y al respecto el Reino Unido tiene dos modelos interesantes: mi amiga la ex embajadora del Reino Unido tomó un año para atender a sus gemelos, para luego recibir la recompensa de ser considerada en primer lugar para buenos destinos. Recuerdo también a una directora general de asuntos globales que trabajaba en ese puesto los lunes y los martes, mientras otra ejecutiva que recién había tenido un hijo ocupaba el puesto de directora general el resto de la semana.  

Varios países de la OCDE han puesto a prueba diferentes programas para estimular el uso de permisos de paternidad con, por ejemplo, incentivos financieros y planes sin negociación.  

En países como Suecia, Islandia y Alemania dichos planes han aumentado considerablemente la participación de los padres en las labores de atención a los hijos.     

La OCDE también encabeza iniciativas para romper con los estereotipos, como la iniciativa NiñaSTEM Pueden implantada en México, que inspira a las niñas, a través de ejemplos positivos de mujeres, a desarrollar una carrera exitosa en las áreas STEM. Tenemos que proporcionar esos modelos de rol pues la mayoría de las niñas no aspirarán ni se esforzarán por convertirse en algo que no pueden ver. Así que invitamos a mujeres astronautas, pilotos, ingenieras, arquitectas, y el efecto que causan en las niñas es asombroso. Es una idea muy sencilla y, sin embargo, sumamente transformadora. Me siento orgullosa porque este proyecto fue elegido para presentarse en el Foro de París sobre la Paz.   

Necesitamos también transparencia y legislación contra la remuneración desigual, la ausencia de mujeres en los consejos de administración y su escasa representación en los puestos de dirección general. Las empresas ciertamente se están quedando atrás en este sentido.  

La legislación del Reino Unido que exige a las empresas que revelen sus brechas salariales entre los géneros ya ejerce un extraordinario impacto desde su promulgación en 2018. Las cifras obtenidas de la encuesta sobre tendencias de empleo realizada por la Confederación de la Industria Británica (CBI) muestran que 93% de las empresas están tomando medidas para reducir la brecha salarial entre los géneros y aumentar la diversidad de su fuerza laboral, en comparación con el 62% de aquellas a las que se les planteó una pregunta semejante en 2017.   

Somos una organización económica que centraba su atención en asuntos económicos, pero también estamos trabajando en las normas culturales y sociales que alimentan las brechas, como señala nuestro Índice de Instituciones Sociales e Igualdad de Género (SIGI). La violencia es una prioridad particular en la que nos enfocaremos a principios de 2020 mediante una gran conferencia mundial sobre el combate a la violencia contra las mujeres. Invito a todos ustedes a participar en ella. 

La herramienta más eficaz para reequilibrar las brechas de género y tratar a las mujeres con dignidad, es educar a niñas y niños libres de estereotipos. Esto quiere decir tener escuelas, docentes y libros de texto neutrales en materia de género, pero también seguir de cerca a los medios de comunicación y la manera como se retrata a las mujeres en los mensajes publicitarios y las redes sociales.  

Esto forma parte del trabajo constante de la OCDE orientado a proteger a los niños en la red y enmarcar las políticas digitales también en torno a objetivos de bienestar más amplios, lo que constituye el núcleo de nuestro proyecto Going Digital. 

Una enseñanza clave es que en todas estas áreas, ¡no podemos lograr lo que nos proponemos sin los hombres! Cada vez son más los hombres que se pronuncian a favor de la igualdad de género y de todos los beneficios que pueden recibir en un mundo en el que la igualdad de género prevalezca.  

Los hombres deberán tener la libertad de desarrollarse en carreras profesionales tradicionalmente desempeñadas por mujeres, de trabajar de manera flexible y de pasar más tiempo con su familia y en su hogar.  

Los resultados que obtenemos en todos los campos en nuestras sociedades y economías con la profundización de las divisiones, la exclusión, la violencia, el rechazo de enfoques multilaterales y el populismo en aumento, nos indican que las circunstancias tienen que cambiar. 

El peligro más apremiante en el futuro es que los buenos resultados que hemos obtenido están en riesgo, como lo están todos los objetivos multilaterales cuando grandes países del mundo han optado por la confrontación y la exclusión por encima de la cooperación internacional. No solo en cuestiones de género, sino incluyendo las cuestiones de género.  

Encontramos que es cada vez más difícil mencionar el género en nuestras declaraciones negociadas, ¡ahora no podemos ni tan siquiera mencionar los derechos reproductivos! De modo que en la lucha por promover el empoderamiento de la mujer, debemos seguir construyendo un mundo más amigable y más cooperativo.  

Estos dos intereses van de la mano y se refuerzan mutuamente, por lo que les invito a seguir luchando y, al igual que dijo Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Directora Ejecutiva de ONU Mujeres ¡empujen cuando te empujen hacia atrás! (push back against the push back) 

Muchas gracias. 

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OECD Horizontal Housing Project: First Steering Group Meeting Welcome Remarks

Dear Ambassadors, Committee Chairs, Delegates, TUAC and BIAC Members,

I am very pleased to be here to  open the first steering group meeting of the horizontal housing project “Building an OECD Housing Strategy”.

This work is of key as we observe rises in housing prices in many countries, inequality of access to quality safe housing, rapid transformation of urban and rural landscapes, and widespread demographic changes as a result of migration.

As part of our mission to promote sustainable and inclusive growth, access to good-quality housing is fundamental to improving the well-being, health and opportunities of people around the world.

It is important to emphasise that sharply rising house prices are not inevitable. Indeed, real house prices rose only little in the 75 years to 1945, but they have trebled in the following 75 years.[1][MES1] 

The OECD’s recent publication “Under Pressure: the Squeezed Middle Class” shows how housing has become increasingly unaffordable over time: In 1985, it took 6.8 years of annual income to buy a 60m2 flat for a middle class family.2 It now takes 10.2 years, which is a third more.

The middle class lifestyle is now facing increasing financial pressure partially as a result of the cost of housing rising well above inflation in many countries.[2]

In sixteen OECD countries in 2016, more than 40% of low‐income owners with a mortgage spent over 40% of their disposable income on a mortgage. The same was true for low-income renters in private rentals in fourteen OECD countries. In Greece and the United States, low-income dwellers face a similar housing cost burden, regardless of tenure: in both countries, more than half of the low-income population spent over 40% of disposable income on rent or a mortgage in 2016.

Innovations in transport mobility have meant that we have easier access to faster forms of transport and we are able to move quickly and easily between urban, suburban and rural areas.

But gains in mobility have faded and many cities suffer from urban sprawl, heavy congestion, pollution. At the same time, land use regulations have become less and less friendly to building new homes, pushing up house prices.

If business stays as usual, paying for rent or paying back a mortgage will eat up an ever larger share of income, limiting opportunities to save and stifling social mobility.

Rising house prices also expose people to financial risks. As we learned ten years ago, elevated house prices have a tendency to crash. Some countries are still suffering from the ramifications of the latest crash ten years ago. We cannot afford another one.

There is also the question of unequal access to quality housing. Today, about 15% of people in the OECD live in overcrowded housing.[3] This contributes to deepen inequalities, passing disadvantage from one generation to the next, as children are particularly affected.

On average, more than one-in-five children aged 0-17 live in an overcrowded household in European OECD countries. In Hungary, Latvia, Poland, and the Slovak Republic, over half of all children live in overcrowded households. Such housing conditions have been shown to inhibit learning capacity at school, as overcrowded dwellings may bring higher levels of stress that hinder learning.[4]

Countries are stepping up the plate to address these challenges. Across OECD countries, we see governments increasingly engaged in improving the quality and affordability of housing. For example, Berlin and New York have both enacted stricter rent control regulations recently. Seeing this growing appetite for promoting affordable, quality housing, it is time for the OECD, as the house of best practices and evidence-based policy recommendations to step in in support of our members.

This horizontal housing project does not start from scratch, building on years of work across several directorates.

ECO took on a very successful housing project 10 year ago. ELS launched the third wave of the Questionnaire on Affordable Housing (QuASH) in May. CFE has already done a considerable amount of work on land use governance and has recently launched work on smart cities, which is critical for both the inclusive and sustainability agendas.

Housing has also been an important area for the OECD’s Inclusive Growth Initiative, including the Framework for Policy Action on Inclusive Growth.

These are just a few examples. But, as it stands, this work is often piecemeal and stands to gain from increased coordination and horizontality.

This is why the horizontal housing project will dig into the impact of housing on well-being and inclusive growth in a more holistic way.

The project leverages the unique capacity of the OECD to bring together insights that the different OECD directorates have developed on housing to enhance policy coherence across the many objectives and dimensions of housing-related challenges.  

Ultimately, the housing project will deliver a blueprint for achieving an inclusive housing strategy.

This framework will evaluate policy measures and objectives across multiple policy dimensions in a coherent way rather than evaluating measures within separate silos.

The indicators identified as most meaningful will enrich the OECD’s toolkit for measuring well-being along the housing dimension.

I look forward to a stimulating discussion and to hearing about your experiences, challenges and policy solutions. You will be guiding, providing advice to, and shaping the important work the OECD will do on designing policies for efficient, affordable, inclusive and sustainable housing. We count on you to help us advance in this domain and we look forward to working with you all to ensure everyone has access to a quality, affordable home for them and their children.

Thank you.


[1]. Katharina Knoll, Moritz Schularick, and Thomas Steger. No price like home: global house prices, 1870-2012. The American Economic Review, 107(2):331-353, 2017.

2. Middle class family refers to a median income couple with two children.

[2] https://www.oecd.org/els/soc/OECD-middle-class-2019-main-findings.pdf

[3] See https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/docserver/5jm3p5gl4djd-en.pdf?expires=1562322402&id=id&accname=ocid84004878&checksum=C4A0B21A4EEDCECAC5D09B5009CC7776

[4] https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/social-issues-migration-health/society-at-a-glance-2019_soc_glance-2019-en


 [MES1]Maybe not necessary?

“How can experts recover their legitimacy?” Session at the Rencontres Économiques d’Aix-en-Provence

This session at the Rencontres Économiques d’Aix-en-Provence on July 5th focused on the role of and trust in experts in today’s world. Below are my thoughts on the issue:

The growing influence of “fake news” and the expansion of post-truth politics is evidence of a growing mistrust in scientific knowledge and evidence. But the key to understanding this loss of trust in science is to look not specifically at science itself, but at the broader context of inequalities and trust in government and institutions. Trust in governments stands at around 40% in OECD countries.[1] This lack of confidence in governments and experts is a result of our economic models having failed a large share of people and the planet. We have long operated on a mantra of “grow first, redistribute later.” But with a small portion of the population capturing majority of the benefits of growth while the rest face the tough effects of the decoupling of wages from growth, we must recognize that this mantra does not deliver. In essence, the benefits of growth and integration have not trickled down.

The OECD has been documenting inequalities for many decades. We have found that the average disposable income of the richest 10% is 9.5 times that of the poorest 10% across the OECD, up from 7 times 25 years ago. The richest 10% in the OECD own around half of all household assets, whilst the bottom 40% own barely 3%.[2]

Our recently released report A Broken Social Elevator? How to Promote Social Mobility reveals that social mobility is stalling: it takes 5 generations for the poorest children to reach the OECD mean.

It is no wonder because it is not just the bottom of the income distribution that is losing out, it is also the middle. Our recent report Under Pressure: Squeezed Middle Class shows that middle incomes have grown a third less in the last 30 years than the average of the top 10%, while the cost of housing is growing three times faster than the household median income across the OECD. Costs of healthcare and education are also rising above inflation, while uncertainty and precarity are on the rise.

The frustration of a growing proportion of people left behind by traditional economic models is driving populism. Populism distorts realities, ignores facts and builds compelling narratives based on false information that connects with people’s emotions. For example, the fact that climate change, which has been scientifically proven time and again, can be ignored is an example of the power of populist rhetoric.

Digital technologies are enabling the behaviour, whether conscious or unconscious, of ignoring science and evidence, and promoting instead the information that plays on our emotions and existing views and biases.

Furthermore, digital technologies have unfortunately undermined the relative power and influence of scientific journals. Social media and web-based sources are diffusing information very quickly, irrespective of whether it is grounded in peer-reviewed processes and evidence. When combined with the algorithmic curating and customising that some platforms use to deliver content and ads to consumers, this creates echo chambers.

This has led to the rise of echo chambers as humans have a tendency to look for information consistent with their existing beliefs, or to interpret information according to their beliefs.

Echo chambers can lead to views becoming more entrenched, can cut people off from the full spectrum of mainstream news and opinion, and can reinforce bias, including against legitimate scientific evidence and expertise.

Echo chambers are a growing problem. A 2016 study of around 50 000 people across 26 countries found that social media had overtaken television among 18-24 year olds as their main source of news.

The phenomenon of echo chambers also raises risks of political manipulation, which threatens democracy by fuelling populist and even extremist views.

Political campaigns use echo chambers to promote ideologies and discredit facts, sometimes illegally, as we saw with the Cambridge Analytica scandal, where the personal data of millions of people was harvested from Facebook for political advertising purposes.

Furthermore, the various elements of these processes are not always overseen by humans anymore. Rather, developments in artificial intelligence and machine learning are taking a lot of the human intuition and ethical instinct out of online services. These dangers add to calls for more transparency and accountability of AI systems. Thus, the OECD’s AI Principles, adopted this May and endorsed by G20 Leaders as the basis of non-binding G20 AI Principles, promote transparency, explainability and accountability in AI systems. We are now working on concrete guidelines to help countries implement the AI Principles.

Echo chambers also enable the dissemination of fake news, a strong indicator of the deterioration of trust in experts and powerful fuel for populist movements. A recent study published in Science Magazine analysed 126,000 news stories shared on Twitter between 2006 to 2017 by 3 million users. It found that a false story reaches 1,500 people six times faster, on average, than a true story does and that is not just because of bots. A key takeaway is that content that arouses strong emotions spreads further, faster, more deeply, and more broadly on social media. Fake news posts are crafted to appeal to its readers’ psychological desires.

This context is particularly alarming, as fake news can have a direct and harmful impact on people’s well-being. In many countries, false health claims are generating mistrust in vaccination programs, with citizens delaying or refusing to get vaccinated.

The World Health Organisation and UNICEF are sounding the alarm about a decline in immunization rates and a rise in measles cases, with 98 countries (among which France) reporting a higher number of measles cases in 2018 than in 2017.

The combined effect of all of this is undoubtedly crippling democracy. But we must also understand that the current state of democracy deserves scrutiny. It is not enough to support free elections. We must ensure that the process of electing leaders is fair, just, and informed by evidence. This includes limiting the influence of economic inequality on political inequality, ensuring that money doesn’t grant undue influence to certain groups or individuals.

Democratic leaders must also, once elected, be ready and willing to debate and look at facts and evidence when making decisions. Democracies will not deal with the challenges of the 21st century – technological change, climate change, rising inequality – without the full contribution of science. And if we do not elect leaders willing to support and engage with scientific fact and debate, we are all losing out. In the face of urgent social and economic needs, this must involve long-term investment in research and development, improving scientific education and training, promoting public engagement in science and helping direct the energies and ingenuity to our most pressing needs.

Cherry-picking the evidence, suppressing findings not consistent with a government or political agenda or censoring and truncating analysis not only undermine the legitimacy of science but also inhibit effective decision-making.

It is evident that ‘more facts’ or ‘more evidence’ are not enough to address these challenges. As a result of growing inequalities, people react increasingly to rhetoric that speaks to their concerns, fears, and emotions. And even if it might be convenient to blame technology, we need to take a look at our human nature and our social structures to find solutions.

If we want to reinstitute trust, we cannot use the same recipes’ that contributed to break it. We need to share the benefits of growth more equally, we need to preserve the environment; we need to move away from the supremacy of the economic profession and decision making, and listen more to people’s concerns and views. In this sense, populism is not to be entirely disparaged. Rather we can learn from it. Populism is proving that people are feeling left behind and are in need of leadership and public policy that works for them. In order to restore the legitimacy of evidence and experts we must build narratives that put people back at the centre of policy.

As an evidence based organization, the OECD is taking this on board. We are channeling new approaches that go beyond outdated models through our New Approaches to Economic Challenges initiative, looking at behavioural insights and the role of emotions and narratives in shaping public and political life.

We recognize that we need a multifaceted response. We have to acknowledge the importance of treating the root causes of the problem. This includes fixing the growth model, to make it more inclusive and fuel social mobility. To do so, we have developed the Framework for Policy Action on Inclusive Growth. This requires coordinated investments in the people, places and firms that have been left behind. We need to look at early childhood education and care, at healthcare, education, including digital skills, and quality jobs. We need to strengthen collective bargaining, as well as social safety nets.

We also need to restore trust through more responsive governments, by tackling the failings of democratic systems such as rising inequalities and corruption. The OECD has a wide range of integrity tools and also instruments to tackle tax evasion and avoidance. BEPS and Automatic Exchange of Information have yielded over 95 billion euros in additional revenue collected from taxpayers coming forward and disclosing formerly concealed assets and income through voluntary compliance mechanisms and other offshore investigations.

We also need to develop resilience to misinformation and disinformation. The OECD’s PISA Survey has moved beyond basic competencies (mathematics, science and reading) to assess education systems’ ability to equip students with core competences such as critical thinking, problem-solving, social and emotional skills. These are the “Global Competencies” they will need to develop their own understanding and navigate an increasingly complex world as responsible adults and citizens.

We also need to harness technology to engage people with science. Societal engagement can take place across the research process – from agenda setting to co-production of research and dissemination of scientific information. One example is leveraging public research infrastructures to provide a focus for citizen science. In the field of astronomy, for example, lay persons are helping to classify images of the night sky that are shared on line. Another example is hackathons – these are a common way of addressing software development challenges.

Luckily, trust in science has not collapsed completely. The Wellcome Global Monitor, a global survey of more than 140,000 people in of 140 countries showed that nearly three-quarters of people worldwide trust scientists: 54% at a medium level and 18% at a high level. Only 14% had a low level of trust in science. But it is impossible to ignore the negative consequences of the effect the expansion of fake news and post-truth politics are having on our democracies, societies, and personal well-being. We must work to combat these issues through investments in inclusive growth to ensure no one is left behind.


[1] https://www.oecd.org/gov/trust-in-government.htm

[2] http://www.oecd.org/fr/social/inequality.htm

IOE Presidents’ Forum: Conversation with Gabriela Ramos “The G20 as an engine for reform – successes and ongoing challenges”

Remarks delivered for the session entitled “The G20 as an engine for reform – successes and ongoing challenges – In conversation with Gabriela Ramos” at the International Organisation of Employers’ Presidents’ Forum “Leadership in Changing Times” on 18 June 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland.

Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

Today we have heard a lot different forms of leadership in changing times. In this context, I would like to focus on one of the world’s leading global fora – the Group of 20 – reflecting on some of its landmark success before turning to its current challenges.

To start, I want to take you back to the G20’s birth as a leaders’ forum in the aftermath of the 2008-9 global financial crisis. This was the pivotal moment where the actions of G-20 leaders helped to turn the crisis around – by boosting consumer and business confidence to prevent broader contamination of the crisis, and by supporting the first stages of economic recovery through their co-ordination of a massive USD500bn stimulus package.

Other successes followed, with G20 leaders committing to a standstill on trade protectionism. They also set in motion a complete overhaul of financial markets regulatory framework and supported requirements for banks and other financial institutions to hold more capital.

Since those early days, the G20 has also made great strides in its agenda to promote a more level playing field by enhancing international tax co‑operation, eliminating tax fraud and reducing tax avoidance globally. Over time, this has become a truly great achievement for the G20. Through the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information (EOI) for Tax Purposes, hosted by the OECD, governments around the world have identified over EUR 95 billion in additional revenue through voluntary compliance mechanisms and other offshore investigations. And it has been good news for developing countries too. Through this work, tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning is being gradually and systematically tackled through the OECD/G20 BEPS Action Plan, which is now addressing the critical issue of the tax challenges arising from the digitalisation of the economy.

At the 2014 Australian G20 Summit in Brisbane, the OECD put forward the economic case for promoting women’s participation in the labour force be a key condition for stronger and more inclusive growth. This resulted in the G20 Brisbane Goal to reduce the gender gap in labour market participation rates by 25% by 2025, through the integration of 100 million more women into the labour force.

But by far the G20’s biggest success to date has been the trust that brought all these countries together in the first place to define common solutions to their common challenges – with the clear understanding that they could not “go solo”. In other words, G20 leaders recognised the fundamental interconnected-ness of the global economy in terms of GVCs and technologies, and the need to act together to ensure recovery while preventing the imbalances that led to the GFC in the first place. Furthermore, the G20 also provided the badly needed political momentum behind landmark agreements such as the climate Paris Agreement and the global goals for sustainable development, while also delivering in Bali on the last WTO –sponsored global agreement, i.e. the agreement on trade facilitation.

So where are we now? Despite all these achievements, we nevertheless find ourselves at a critical juncture. The world economy has entered yet another period of deceleration. Global GDP growth has slowed abruptly over the past year, going from close to 4% down to 3%. Our simulations show that renewed trade tensions between the US and China could end up shaving more than 0.6% from global GDP over the next two to three years.[1]

Decelerating investment growth during the post-crisis period has dampened the pace of convergence in per capita GDP between emerging market and developing economies, and advanced economies (other than China), and has slowed capital accumulation. Continued weak investment growth will make filling large investment gaps in EMDEs more challenging.

Meanwhile, new trade-restrictive measures are on the rise through tariff increases, import bans and export duties, adding to policy uncertainty and adversely affected business investment. Amongst the G20 economies for which current data are available, annual fixed investment growth has halved (from around 5% in 2017 to 2 1/2 % at the end of 2018). Productivity growth is low, even in the context of the digital transformation.  And there are increasing divergences on trade, on migration, and on many other issues.

Also, renewed risks are building up in the system, i.e the very same ones that led to the 2008-2009 crisis. Public sector and private sector debt is growing. Between 2007 and 2018, outstanding central government debt for the OECD area doubled and the debt-to-GDP ratio rose from 49.5% to 72.6%. Over the same period, the global stock of non-financial corporate bonds has almost doubled in real terms, at close to USD 13 trillion. The systemic risks are clear.

Today, we are living in a world with a potentially explosive conjunction of toxic “-isms”: protectionism, populism, nationalism, parochialism. They are themselves the symptoms of anxieties of people for their jobs, for the future of their children, and vis-à-vis technological change, digitalisation and globalisation more generally. Those perceptions are not groundless as documented in our recent Broken Elevator and Squeezed Middle Class reports. The middle classes are squeezed and shrinking and the share of wages in GDP keeps falling. Fourteen percent (14%) of jobs today are at high risk of being automated, while a further 32% could face substantial changes in content and 65% of children today will do jobs that have not yet been invented. But instead of fuelling innovation and new opportunities, these fears are instead leading to distrust and fractious politics and, down the line, to misguided policies that will only make things worse.   All in all, a vicious circle.

Against this background, the G20 has been less effective in recent times, starting with de-escalating trade tensions and tackling global excess capacities in certain industries.   But perhaps the worst news of all is that the backlash against globalisation and multilateralism has resulted in countries having different readings of the global challenges at stake and less commitment to working together. Climate is a case in point. We all know that the ambition needs to be scaled up, but if we are not reading from the same page it becomes impossible to have common solutions.

In this new reality, it is clear that the G20’s collective ambition to tackle our most pressing challenges is in danger of weakening, just when it is needed most.  If we want this situation to be reversed, we need to continue relying on facts. But we also need to change the traditional growth paradigm and put people at the centre. In a context of increased inequalities, we need to look towards equity and sustainability. We cannot continue just relying on GDP and GDP per capita as the only metric to measure success. These traditional measures are part of the story but not the whole, as our OECD wellbeing measures, inclusive growth and taxation work show. Fairness and equity are not the concepts favoured by more orthodox schools of economics over the past 30 years. But in this new world, this is what more equitable, inclusive, sustainable economies need to look like.

For business, there is a key role to play here in tacking inequalities. This is the reason why, at the OECD, we are building the Business for Inclusive Growth (B4IG) Initiative to bring governments, business and investors around a common agenda for inclusive growth, and I call on all of those here today to join these efforts. This is also the reason why we are still working to ensure full G20 country adhesion to or endorsement for our instruments and tools (such as the OECD’s MNE guidelines) that help to ensure a level playing field for business, promote responsible business conduct, and fight corruption – and due to the G20’s current lack of unity we are still not there.

Where to next for the G20? At the end of this month, leaders will meet in Osaka, with a fresh opportunity to prove what collective action can achieve where there is co-operation not confrontation and some good political will. Much is at stake. Let’s hope they succeed.


[1] OECD Economic Outlook (May 2019)

Financial Alliance for Women Summit: Session on Building Female-Friendly Entrepreneurial Ecosystems

On 18 June 2019 I participated in the “Session on Building Female-Friendly Entrepreneurial Ecosystems” at the 2019 Financial Alliance for Women Summit in Paris, France. Moderated by Paul Jenkins, Senior Partner, Head of Digital for McKinsey in Western Europe. Panelists: Ulrike Decoene, Chief Communications Officer, AXA; Laila Page, Chief of Staff, Commercial and Private Banking, NatWest/RBS.

Key highlights from my intervention:

  • In 2015, women were half as likely as men in the EU to be self-employed (9.9% vs. 17.8%).
  • The gender gap in entrepreneurial activities has changed very little in most countries since 2012.
  • Self-employed women earned two-thirds the income of self-employed men. In US the earnings gender gap in self-employment is 58%
  • Male entrepreneurs in OECD are more than twice as likely as women to have employees.
  • Recent estimates suggest that if the entrepreneurship gender gap were eliminated, global GDP could rise by as much as 2%, or USD 1.5 trillion.
  • Gender stereotypes see entrepreneurship as “masculine”, associated with male characteristics like courage, ambition & risk. OECD ABC of Gender Equality found that girls in same-sex schools took more risks in schoolwork.
  • Women lack confidence: only one-third of women indicate that they have sufficient skills to start a business, compared to half of men.
  • Stereotypes affect  sector choice & earnings (health + beauty vs. construction + transport).
  • Gender gaps in STEM also relevant: In OECD countries fewer than 1 in 5 computer science graduates are girls.
  • To increase share of women entrepreneurs, role-modeling & mentorship is key.
  • Ireland’s Going for Growth provides peer-to-peer mentoring for business development. Participants hired an additional 146 employees.
  • Other examples of mentorship are France’s Plan Entreprenariat des femmes, Germany’s FRAUEN Unternehmen or regional initiatives like Canada’s Alberta Grow to Greatness Excelerator Program.
  • Canada’s Business Women in Intl. Trade (BWIT) helps women-led business access international markets through business-to-business meetings and matchmaking opportunities.
  • Government programmes help access finance.
  • In developing & emerging countries, government programmes in Morocco, India and Malaysia help with credit guarantees covering 70-80% of loan.
  • Some countries offer women-specific measures in procurement markets, e.g. US and Korea, but also South Africa & Indonesia started set-asides.
  • Some venture capital Funds are also investing in women-led companies. The BDC Capital Women in Technology Fund (Canada) has committed to investing $200 million over the next five years.
  • OECD is leading the way with better data and analysis: we have 2013 Recommendation on Gender Equality in Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship & The Missing Entrepreneurs.
  • We recently launched Women’s Entrepreneurship (WE) Initiative to strengthen evidence by collecting gender-disaggregated internationally comparable data on SME access to finance.
  • WE Initiative is also looking at specific issues (data and analysis) of women tech entrepreneurs.
  • OECD work (like PISA, early childhood, and work on masculinities) is tackling stereotypes around entrepreneurship & risk-taking.

Workshop on Data Protection within International Organizations

Introductory remarks to the Workshop on Data Protection within International Organizations hosted by the OECD from 17-18 June 2019. The workshop was attended by experts from the UNHCRC, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the World Intellectual Property Organization, the European Commission, the European Securities and Markets Authority, the International Organization for Migration, Interpol, and the International Finance Corporation.

It is my pleasure to welcome this distinguished group of data protection experts.

Let me first acknowledge the efforts of the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), and particularly Giovanni Buttarelli and Wojciech Wiewiórowski (“Voy-chi Viviroski”), for their leadership in bringing together this community, which the OECD is pleased to host this year.  

The digital revolution is bringing great opportunity to improve people’s lives and promote inclusion.  

For those who are connected (which is still only half of the world population), the possibilities brought by digitalization are touching almost every aspect of our lives, facilitating social and business connectivity.  New technologies are transforming how we engage with the labour market, with society and with public services.

Recent OECD research has found that around one-half of all people across the OECD have accessed public services or health information online, and one quarter of people use new technologies to work remotely.

But there are also challenges: displaced and changing jobs, competition, tax policy, and, of course, data governance and protection. If we do not manage these problems adequately we risk exacerbating inequalities, eroding public trust, and endangering the privacy of individuals around the world.

People need to know their rights, and have a say on how their data is used. We cannot harness the digital economy to improve people’s lives without ensuring the trust of citizens in digital technologies. But we must move forward together.

Digitalisation is an inherently cross-border challenge, which calls for deepened international co-operation and engagement. This is why last month’s Ministerial Council Meeting, which welcomed   135 ministers and heads of delegation, focused on the challenges and opportunities of digitalization.

At the MCM we made important progress towards multilateral solutions, including the adoption of a new Council Recommendation on Artificial Intelligence to help ensure that AI is trustworthy and human-centred. We initiated phase 2 of our horizontal Going Digital project and we continue to advance in addressing the tax challenges raised by the digital economy. 

Despite the many divides and tensions currently affecting the multilateral community, thankfully one thing on which we all agree is that safeguarding personal data and privacy is fundamental to promoting trust in digital, and ensuring it is a motor for innovation, opportunity and inclusive growth. 

OECD research has shown that privacy is a top priority for citizens. For example, in 2016 more than 70% of Internet users in the EU provided personal information online, with many also performing actions to control access to these data.

In 2017, 46% of all Internet users in Europe refused to allow the use of personal information for advertising and 40% limited access to their profile or content on social networking sites. More than one-third of Internet users read privacy policy statements before providing personal information and restricted access to their geographical location.

This caution is certainly warranted. In 2015, around 3% of all Internet users across OECD countries for which data are available reported having experienced a privacy violation in the three months prior to being surveyed. Keep in mind, this is the figure for reported violations.

In countries such as Norway, Portugal, Sweden and Turkey, there was a notable increase in privacy violations as reported by individuals between 2010 and 2015. In 2016, 64% of individuals in the United States experienced or had been notified of a significant data breach pertaining to their personal data or accounts.

Although caution with regard to online behavior is advisable, without institutions and regulations to address these public worries, we risk eroding public trust. We are already seeing evidence of this: in 2018, 18% of EU28 citizens chose not to submit forms to public authorities, 20% of them citing concerns about the protection of personal data as the reason.

Policymakers have to listen to these concerns and be mindful of these risks, which means constantly staying at the leading edge of a rapidly changing sector.

The EU’s 2018 reform of data protection rules (General Data Protection Regulation – GDPR) aims to provide people with more control over their personal data and to create a more level playing field for business. Some felt these were too stringent, but then crises like the Cambridge Analytica scandal showed how cautious we have to be. And as a result of these changes, people understand better their rights.

The OECD is also a leader in this field. We have been working on privacy for almost 40 years. In 2013 our Members agreed to update the cornerstone of that work: the OECD Privacy Guidelines. Digital security and privacy is a moving target, and there are also emerging threats to contend with.

This is why we are looking at online protection of children and reviewing our 2012 Recommendation on the Protection of Children Online. Since then, more children than ever are online, and their usage has evolved to mobile devices and interacting on social media, making them more vulnerable to privacy risks and to cyber bullying. 

As part of this work, we have identified a clear need for better measurement and indicators of risks, so that we can base policies on sound evidence. This goes to the heart of our forward looking roadmap on digital which we launched at the Going Digital Summit last month, the Going Digital Integrated Policy Framework. Social prosperity, inclusion, well-being and building trust in the digital age are key pillars of our approach. 

This also means practicing what we preach. Last month we launched an overhaul of our internal approach to protecting personal data. It follows elements of the 2013 OECD Guidelines as well as other international best practice.

The new regime includes updated rules for processing, with broader rights for individuals. These rights apply not just to staff but extend to any individual whose data we process.

We also put in place a robust governance framework, with the introduction of the roles of Data Protection Officer and Data Protection Commissioner, as well as a mechanism to settle individual claims.

Billy Hawkes, our new Commissioner, is here with you for this event, as well as our Data Protection Officer, Michael Donohue.   

Getting the new regime established was the first step. Now we are busy rolling it out across the organization:

First, there is no privacy without good security. Our digital security team works very closely with the new data protection function. 

The second aspect relates to effecting organisational change. We are developing an experimental, behaviorally-informed approach to implement our new data protection rules.

For example, we are raising awareness among staff about phishing emails and this included an experiment in which we randomly sent different variations of the same message to staff and recorded differences in response rates.

This is yielding interesting results, which our security team in the Executive Directorate are analysing and will soon share. We hope that this way of using behavioural science and experimentation will help us improve digital security and data protection.

One dimension that we must keep at the top of our minds is that that there are implementation challenges and legal issues that are unique to international organisations. We are not like corporations or even national administrations. Our independence and immunities are part of our DNA.

We learn from domestic approaches, and draw on best practices, but are ultimately subject to our own rules. 

One issue of concern to many international organisations relates to personal data transfers. We fully appreciate that our Members and partners have to comply with domestic laws, so we need mechanisms and approaches that embed data protection into these flows. However, these mechanisms must also respect our international character.

We look forward to hearing how our colleagues in other organisations are addressing these and other issues and to sharing our best practices.

I’d like to finish by thanking you for your engagement on this issue which protects us all. I look forward to hearing about the outcomes of you discussions.

Keynote: Conference on the Future of Inclusive Economies

Keynote delivered at the Houses of Parliament of the United Kingdom on the occasion of the Conference on the Future of Inclusive Economies organized by APPG Inclusive Growth.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am glad to be with the All Party Parliamentary Group for Inclusive Growth, along with the Club de Madrid. I commend the work you are doing on inclusive growth.

This session is righly called “changing paradigms”. This is exactly what we need. Changing a growth model that did not deliver for people, for the planet or for social cohesion. Bad economics is bringing bad politics. Brexit is the perfect example.

Inequalities of income and opportunity are fracturing communities, undermining prosperity and eroding trust – little over 40% of people in OECD countries trust their governments.

The top 10% now earn almost ten times more than the bottom 10% across OECD countries, up from seven times 25 years ago.

When it comes to wealth, the top 10% hold more than half of the total net wealth (52%).

These economic divides do not only have an impact on the lives of those “left behind” today, they have a long-lasting effect on their children too. Educational disadvantage typically means not only smaller salaries tomorrow, but, most alarming of all, shorter lives.

A 25 year-old university-educated man can expect to live almost eight years longer than his lower-educated peer on average across OECD countries; the difference is around 5 years for women.

But the more we dig into this, the more worrisome the picture looks.  Let me highlight a few findings from recent OECD reports on social mobility and on the squeezed middle class.

Currently, it would take a child born into a low-income family about 5 generations – or up to 150 years – to reach the average level of income across OECD countries.

Another trend that we are seeing is that on average across OECD countries, the share of people in middle-income households is falling. We have found that 70% of baby boomers were part of the middle class in their twenties, compared with 60% of millennials.

While wages have stagnated, house prices have been growing three times faster than household median income over the last two decades, and the cost of healthcare and education has been rising above inflation. This is happening in the context of rising job insecurity, and a radical technological transformation, with it’s “Winner takes all” dynamics.

We estimate that around 14% of jobs are at high risk of automation and another 32% will change significantly. The low skilled will be most affected, and yet these workers are 40 percentage points less likely than high-skilled adults to participate in training.

The way we work is already changing too: almost 1 in 3 workers has a non-standard job, with great variance in terms of pay, job security, access to social protection, and collective bargaining coverage.

If the trend during globalization meant the decrease in unionization, with the digital revolution, health, unemployment and other risks are transferred to the digital workers, who are wrongly called “self- employed”.

Workers linked to these jobs are up to 50% less likely to get income support when out of work, making their situation even more precarious. This is why we are calling for a new way of developing social dialogue and collective bargaining for the future of work

One important dynamic in digitalisation is the fact that women are also being left behind. 250 million fewer women are connected to internet; 10 percent of start ups are headed by a woman, and 80% of downloads and software developments are done by male only teams. They are underrepresented in the STEM fields, and in ITC. No wonder that the biases and the content that is being produced and disseminated in social networks is having a clear impact on the mental health of girls.

So we have the facts and we should wonder how did we get here so that we can correct the course.

First,  we made choices and priviledged the efficiency of markets over equity considerations. Our metrics failed us too, as we relied on averages and material well-being as a proxy for success.  GDP became an end in itself instead of a means to an end.

The mantra that we should grow first and distribute later (which is still present nowadays), prevented us from imagining  a different  roadmap.

This is why the OECD developed the Productivity-Inclusiveness Nexus, which shows that more egalitarian societies have more solid and cohesive growth outcomes.

We confirmed that inequality hinders growth. And this is straightforward as there is a talent pool that is not tapped when we do not invest in quality education for all; or when SMEs cannot access the technology or financial schemes to succeed.  It also hinders growth because inequality in terms of health, crime, or dependency has a high fiscal cost.

So we also suggest to broaden the definition of economic success and look not only at material income, but also at all other aspects that matter for people’s well being. We launched a Framework for Policy action that calls to include equity considerations in the economic policies.

And we developed a dashboard of 24 indicators (including educational attainment of the bottom of the income distribution; or the ratio between the top to the bottom incomes, and the inclusiveness of the labor market). This dashboard builds on a decade of OECD work on measuring well-being beyond GDP, with extensive research on multidimensional indices such as the one that is launched today and that we welcome.

Taking forward the measurement agenda, our Framework  for Action provides a tangible roadmap for governments that focuses on three key areas: investing in people and places left behind; making the labour market more inclusive while supporting business dynamism; and improving the efficiency and responsiveness of governments.

But to achieve this, we should prioritize those policies that will improve the conditions of the bottom of the income distribution. 

We should create the support systems to level the playing fields, including affordable and high quality early childhood education, and quality jobs. At the OECD we also developed a framework on quality jobs that looks at level of remuneration, working conditions and job security.

To achieve this agenda, we should ensure that governments have the means to re-balance the outcomes. We should ensure progressive tax systems and this is also an agenda that the OECD has developed, fighting tax evasion and erosion, ensuring that multinational companies pay their fare share, and advancing a solution for the taxing of the digital economy, that we just presented at the G20 Ministerial Meeting in Fukuoka.

Beyond governments, inclusive growth agendas need to be run through a broad coalition of actors. The corporate sector has a key role.

The OECD Business for Inclusive Growth Initiative (B4IG), launched just a few months ago, is catalyzing the efforts of governments and companies to promote equality of opportunities (such as training and upskilling programmes for disadvantaged groups); provide “good work” opportunities; eliminate gender inequality, promoting diversity and inclusion;  and finally, reducing territorial inequalities through generating economic opportunities in remote areas. This initiative may deliver in Biarritz a strong business pledge for action on inclusive growth.   

The G7 has remained a strong promoter of Inclusive Growth: from the Italian Presidency two years ago with the Bari Agenda to the Canadian Presidency last year that focused on Growth that Works for all.

As for the G20, the most important contribution to inclusive growth is the tax and the gender agenda. The figth against tax evasion and erosion has delivered 93 billion euros in additional revenues. This is money that can be invested in people and places left behind.

On gender, in 2014, at the Australian G20 Summit in Brisbane, the OECD brought the economic case to tackle gender inequality to G20 leaders. This was how we got leaders to agree to reduce the gender gap in labour market participation rates by 25% by 2025, through the integration of 100 million women into the labour force.  Since then all G20 countries have experienced an increase in labour force participation, with particularly large reductions in the gap in Japan, Argentina, Brazil and Korea.

Building on this, inclusive growth goals have been advanced in all the Presidencies. In Argentina, the focus was to support those more affected, or less prepared in the future of work.

This year, to support the objectives of the Japanese G20 Presidency, the OECD is contributing to a number of relevant workstreams particularly on ageing. Turkey  has put an emphasis on refugees and the challenge of migration.

But the approach has been peacemeal, and what is required is to launch the multilateral discussion about the new growth paradigm. And yet, just when we need it most, multilateralism is being questioned, and the willingness to co-operate is low for many countries.

The last time we had a major social and systemic crisis the welfare state was created. This time, we have not been able to advance a coherent response. But we need to thrive to develop an empowering state, that invests in people and regions, particularly those left behind.

And definitely, we need to change the metrics and the mindset, to develop a more compassionate growth model. Kailash Satyarty, the nobel prize winner that is rescuing children from slavery has said that the international economy has globalized everything, capital flows, technology, digitalization. It is time to globalize compassion. For this to happen, please count on the OECD. With our evidence, but also with our commitment, we will be proud to contribute.

Y7 at the OECD: Calling on G7 for a Fair Future

On 12 June 2019 Gabriela Ramos delivered the closing remarks of the Youth 7 Summit hosted at the OECD, commending the Y7 delegates on their “Call to Action on G7 Leaders for a Fair Future.”

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to close this year’s Youth 7 Summit and would like to congratulate the Y7 team for their leadership and hard work in co-creating the “Call to Action on G7 Leaders for a Fair Future”.

The OECD is committed to building a fair future with and for you. As young leaders, you have the opportunity to help set the terms.

Young people have the least influence on policies that affect them the most, such as climate change and inequality[1].  Yet, we’ve seen extraordinary forms of people-power movements emerge around the world in recent years, often led by young people. We need to leverage this desire and ability to shape our shared future, and join forces to address the very complex challenges we face.

Globalisation has brought a number of benefits – lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty, spreading knowledge, ideas, people and goods across the world.

But not everyone benefits.  

Where do we start?

First, second and third: we need to address inequalities. This is why we warmly support your recommendation for G7 leaders to better protect the most vulnerable and achieve equality of opportunities.

Corporate profits are at historic highs in many countries with profits rising from 7.6% of global GDP in 1980 to 9.8% in 2013 and shareholder payouts hit a new record in 2018 as global dividend payments neared the $500bn mark.

Yet, whole swathes of our populations are excluded from contributing to, or at least benefiting from, this economic prosperity.

In many countries, the income gap between the top and the bottom deciles keeps growing: in the OECD it is now almost 10 times, up from 7 times in the 1980s.[i]

And social mobility is stalling. The OECD’s recent ‘Broken Social Elevator’ report found that in an average OECD country it would take around four to five generations for children from the bottom earnings decile to attain the level of mean earnings.[ii] That’s 155 years!

A whole range of policies can be taken by countries. The G7 Social last week and the upcoming education ministerial can give important policy directions to help build this change from and the OECD stands ready to support them.  

There is also an important role for businesses to play to fight inequalities.

The OECD has been working with the Presidency to bring governments, business and investors around a common agenda for inclusive growth by building a coalition of companies, through the Business for Inclusive Growth Platform, to pledge concrete actions against inequalities at the G7 Leaders’ Summit in Biarritz.

Businesses also have to act responsibly and pay their fair share in tax. The OECD/G20 BEPS Project and common reporting standard for the automatic exchange of tax information, has already led to 93 billion euros in revenues. This is an area where multilateral co-operation is essential and delivers results.

You also made clear that we cannot tackle inequality and vulnerability without guaranteeing gender equality and fair social protection for women.

I could not agree more.

One example among a thousand: on average, only 1 in 4 board members of the largest publicly listed companies in G7 countries are women.

OECD research shows that already at the age of 15, girls are twice less likely to aspire to a career as an engineer, as a scientist, or as an architect.

We know what we need to tackle: in addition to eliminating lingering legal discrimination and barriers to gender participation,  we need to look at paid parental leave for mothers and fathers; affordable and good-quality childcare or pay transparency measures.

But we need to be smarter and more effective in the ways we execute gender equality policies: starting with eliminating stereotypes in school, promoting the adoption of “whole-of-society” approaches and gender mainstreaming in public policy-making through budgeting frameworks and mobilising the private sector to do more and better.

We are working with the French G7 Presidency, in the G20, but also many other actors from business and joining hands with other IOs for instance through the Equal Pay International Coalition initiative.

Intimately linked to the inequality agenda is addressing the impact of the digital transformation.

You will be the leaders of this digital transformation and you will need to ensure it builds a society that drives diversity, inclusion and empowerment.

Starting with your future jobs.

We know automation could displace many jobs over the next decades.

•       14% of jobs today are at high risk of being automated. A further 32% could face substantial changes in content.

•       65% of children today will do jobs that have not yet been invented.

We need to make sure our education and training systems are  adapted to equip our youngsters but also workers already in the labour market to address this change.

Second, digital technologies should be developed and used in a “human-centric” way, making sure people, starting with young girls and boys, are safe.

With AI at the center of the G7 presidency this year:  its future will depend on our common and coordinated ability to create a predictable, stable policy environment that fosters innovation in trustworthy AI, developed around values of human determination and inclusiveness, accountability, security and safety.

A major step in this direction has recently been taken at the OECD a few weeks ago, as forty-two countries have just adopted the first intergovernmental instrument on Artificial Intelligence to guide the responsible adoption of AI.  

The OECD AI Principles describe a common approach from all countries around the table and beyond, to an AI that promotes inclusive growth and sustainable development, that generates outcomes to improve people’s well-being.

Besides the many benefits that digital transformation has brought, it has also enabled the faster dissemination of negative social interactions, including cyberbullying, hate speech and discrimination against specific groups.

The recent events including the Christchurch attacks have been a tragic reminder of the challenge we face.

We need to forcefully combat these misuses of the Internet, while preserving freedom of expression and innovation.

All stakeholders can do more to deter and reduce these harms and make the Internet a safer environment by designing and implementing an integrated policy framework to tackle online harms as we do in the analog world.

Last but not least, all these efforts will be vain if we fail to protect our planet. You recognise this critical juncture by advocating for a fair adaptation to climate change for all.

To accelerate action, we need to rethink our economic and business models and must take stronger action now. The G7 can and must lead the way.  

Let me commend the efforts of the French Presidency and Madame Brune Poirson, for putting biodiversity as a core priority for the global agenda. Protecting our biodiversity is one of the most critical challenges of our era, as the planet is facing its sixth mass extinction. And the outlook is bleak: coral reefs, for example, are projected to decline by 99% if global warming reaches 2 degrees Celsius.

The OECD is supporting the efforts made by G7 countries to scale up action on protecting biodiversity. We have helped build the economic and business case for preserving biodiversity and identified concrete policy priorities for action on this crucial issue.

Y7 leaders,

Today, what brings us together is the belief that international fora like the G7 can advance ambitious agendas for the long-term that influence positively people’s lives for generations.

We firmly believe that the multilateral way is the right way, is the effective way.

Thank you for your own commitment to realising a fair future.

As American educator and civil rights activist, Mary Mcleod Bethune once said: “We have a powerful potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends.”


[1] 2018 OECD Youth stock tacking report


[i] A Broken Social Elevator? How to promote Social Mobility, OECD, 2018, p3

[ii] A Broken Social Elevator? How to promote Social Mobility, OECD, 2018, p14