‘Investing in the Future’ at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Forum 2015

Susan Noble, Service Manager for international data and Celia Russell, Senior International Data Specialist at the UK Data Service, report back from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Forum 2015.

‘Investing in the Future’ at the OECD Forum 2015

This year, governments will agree post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and a new global climate agreement at the COP21 climate change summit.  That 2015 marks a crucial juncture in the global political response to climate change and international development was the key message from Axel Threfall, Editor at large at Reuters when introducing the opening session of the OECD Forum – Investing in the Future: People, Planet, Prosperity held on 2nd and 3rd June 2015 in Paris. Angel Gurria (Secretary-General of the OECD), Helen Clarke (UN Development ) and Ségolène Royal (Minister, Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, France) took part in the first session during which investment and the creation of more and better jobs were also highlighted as key themes for the forum.

oecd forum 2015

Representing the ‘international data provision arm’ of the UK Data Service, we were lucky enough to attend this event which aims to bring together a unique blend of creative minds, decision-makers and experts from all walks of life, to find the solutions to pressing global challenges. These ideas and discussions feed into the annual Ministerial Council Meeting which took place on 3rd and 4th of June, and covered new policy initiatives to promote stronger, fairer and greener growth. 

Why less inequality benefits us all

At the UK Data Service, we provide access and support for all core OECD datasets via UKDS.StatOne of these datasets is the Social and Welfare Statistics and includes the data underpinning the OECD’s recent publication ‘In in Together: why less inequality benefits all’. This was useful reading for a session onAddressing Inequality’ which covered widespread unemployment and the growing gap between rich and poor – recurring topics throughout the Forum. The recently published 2015 Change Readiness Index report stated that ‘economic inequality is greatest threat facing many nations’ and there are many more startling statistics and headlines around the topic of income inequality and the OECD reports that the gap between rich and poor is at its highest level in 30 years in OECD Countries.  There was broad agreement during this session that there is an issue with existing economic model, that growing GDP would not reduce inequality and that closing the income inequality gap would result in higher growth. Potential ways to tackle income inequality were then discussed – better and more employment, education, skills and investment.  The session can be viewed in full via the OECD Forum 2015 webcasts and the OECD Income Inequality in Figures are also work a look!

soc and welfare stats

Leave no one behind

Themes of equality and inclusiveness cut across both the substance and process of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Unlike the Millennium Development Goals, drawn up, it is often perceived, by a ‘group of men in the basement of UN headquarters’, the SDGs have been developed through a huge consultation programme involving national consultations in over 70 countries, social media campaigns and even door-to-door surveys.  The result is likely to be a set of goals that builds on the practical character of the MDGs (with their focus on poverty, hunger, water sanitation and health) and goes beyond to include good governance, gender equality, peace, security and human rights. 

While the Millennium Development Goals were seen as targets for the developing world, all countries will be expected to work towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  The aims of the SDGs, and their alignment with the investment strategies of G20, were examined in the final session of the conference ‘Inclusiveness, investment, implementation’. The indomitable Sharan Burrow explained how developing countries have pushed for wider definitions of poverty alleviation within the SDG framework, where stable livelihoods are created through jobs and inclusive growth, and governments become more open and accountable. Too many people in the world lack basic services, voice, security and a fair chance in life, and the SDGs will explicitly promote equal access to justice, peaceful societies and effective government that responds to people’s needs.

Quality data are central to the SDG blueprint which aims to ‘increase significantly the availability of high quality, timely and reliable data’ to measure progress towards the goals. The final set of Sustainable Development Goals (probably 17) and their indicators (around 169) will be drafted this Sept and we will be blogging more about them then. 

UK Data Service at the Forum

Whilst at the Forum, we took the opportunity to meet with colleagues at the OECD to discuss various topics of mutual interest, including the new OECD Data Portal Application Program Interface (with SDMX export functionality), the opening up of OECD data and we were able to attend the Statistical Information Systems Collaboration Community meeting face to face – where we discussed each Member organisation’s migration to a new version of DotStat (see UKDS.Stat blog post for further info!).

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