Sophie Levy, UNSW Co-op Program scholar
As we finished our croissants and walked to day two of the OECD Forum, we reflected on the previous day and how much we had learnt and gained from the meetings, talks and debates.
The first talk of the day was a fascinating presentation by Bruce Stokes, Director at the Pew Research Centre. His presentation covered the opinions of OECD attendees on the current and future state of global economies, comparing these views to surveys from the public. This session provided a valuable insight into the views of different countries when asked the question, ‘Do you think your children, when they grow up, will be worse off financially than their parents?’ An overwhelming response of ‘yes’ was shared amongst the audience attendees, many of whom attributed this to housing affordability, job security, an uncertain digital economy, poor wage growth and the question of a reliable social safety net.
With this great start to the day, we were engaged, excited and (with a little bit of coffee) fully prepared for the day ahead. We then attended the Ministerial Council Meeting Chair Keynote speech where we heard from Angel Gurria, Secretary General of the OECD, and Prime Minister Rasmussen of Denmark. Both speakers discussed the changing attitudes towards globalisation and free trade, stressing the importance of ‘making globalisation work, better lives for all’. Secretary General Gurria acknowledged that this rise of protectionism has resulted from many middle-income citizens being ‘left behind’, and focused on inclusive growth and putting wellbeing at front and centre of economic objectives.
The 2017 Economic Outlook, presented by OECD Chief Economist, Catherine L Mann provided valuable insights into increasing income inequality and poor real wage growth despite increasing confidence and global trade stimulus from China. The outlook reinforced the need for an integrated policy approach to making globalisation work for all.
A great morning was followed by an even better afternoon where we had meeting Andreas Schall, Global Relations Secretariat at the OECD and Tim Costello. Andreas provided an overview of his role as Global Relations Secretariat and gave us an insight into the way in which the OECD manages relations with non-OECD countries. We learnt about the challenges that face all countries and about the structure of the OECD and the way in which countries are accepted into the OECD body. We had a great opportunity to ask questions about the relationship between the OECD and the G20 and the way in which the OECD engages in discussion with various countries
Our final meeting of the day was with Tim Costello. In an intimate conversation amidst the gardens of the OECD, we discussed Australia’s position in the OECD context and focused on our core Australian values. Our conversation involved globalisation, multiculturalism and the effects of the digital economy on our position as Australians and our values. This new perspective was extremely valuable as it enhanced our understanding of where we stand, as Australians, among the EU, US and Asia, amidst this changing global economy.
The last session of the day involved a discussion about the UN Sustainable Development Goals and whether they could be financed, as desired by the 2030 agenda. This conversation was particularly relevant to my policy paper which looks at the use of public private partnerships in emerging economies. Ulla Tornaes, Denmark’s Minister for Cooperation and Development, stressed the importance of involving the private sector in achieving the SDGs. Other panellists commented on the importance of a strategic guidance of the private sector in achieving many of the SDGs.
Following some networking, we made our way back to the hotel and then onto dinner. After having met the Canadian and New Zealand youth delegates at the forum, we decided to catch up with them under the Eiffel Tour – a truly wonderful way to end the incredible and insightful day.