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. 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.
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.
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.”
 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