Wrapping up the OECD Forum 2019

Brandon Barrio, Queensland University of Technology

Yesterday we saw the conclusion of the official OECD forum. It was a truly eye-opening experience which exposed me to a range of different viewpoints and cultures which I had yet to experience. Some of the key takeaways that I realised from the OECD forum was the focus on technology, particularly AI, and the importance of understanding emotions. The theme of emotion was something I was particularly sceptical on prior to attending the OECD forum, which was most likely attributed to my background in the law. However, after engaging with the presentations and participants at the forum, I have realised the importance of having high emotional intelligence to identify problems and subsequently create appropriate evidence-based solutions. 

However, my learning did not stop with the OECD conference, as this morning we were fortunate enough to speak with Brendan Berne, the Ambassador for Australia in France in his picturesque living quarters at the Australian Embassy. During our discussion he shared his insight into importance of the French and Australian relationship, particularly in light of our new submarine contract. Brendan also shared his insight into Australia’s historical relationship with a variety of countries. Most interestingly to me was our discussion on China and the impact that this economic giant may have on the international trade landscape in the years to come. We were also fortunate enough to receive some inspiring career advice from Brendan, of which the most notable comment to me was to do something that I am passionate about, because passion drives innovation and innovation is what makes you stand out.

This inspirational messaging continued throughout the day to our meeting with Josee Touchette, the Executive Director of the OECD. Josee reassured us of the importance of the youth voice and how we are the key to creating solutions to develop the ‘glue’ that ensures all groups in society feel enfranchised and cared for by institutions. Personally, as a law student myself I found her insight into the transferable skills she learnt from her law degree, such as the ability to ask probing and analytical questions, to be extremely interesting and motivating.

Last but certainty not least, we also met with Anthony Gooch, the Communications Director of the OECD. This meeting was particularly interesting to me because we were able to reflect on the key themes of the conference such as distrust in institutions and the concept of ‘emotion’. Anthony also allowed us the opportunity to discuss our policy papers and our justification behind our elected topics. The discussion of ‘populism’ and topics such as immigration were also intriguing to me as they are also rather controversial issues within Australia.

Overall, the OECD forum and accompanying meetings I have experienced through the Global Voices Scholarship have been extremely enlightening. I am looking forward to what tomorrow brings and using the knowledge I have accumulated throughout my trip in Paris in developing my final submission of my policy paper.