OECD Forum Wrap Up: Day 4

Alasdair Cannon, QUT Business School

Waking up this morning signalled a bit of a sad note to our tired minds: our time in Paris was officially drawing to a close. Having completed all our scheduled meetings at the OECD Headquarters, we instead made our way to the Australian Embassy. Located close to the Eiffel Tower (seriously, what a view!), the Embassy holds the Australian Permanent Delegation to UNESCO. Sitting in a beautiful conference room (courtesy of Harry Seidler, the classic Australian modernist architect), we met with the Australian Ambassador to UNESCO and Deputy Head of Mission at the Paris Embassy, H. E. Mr Angus Mackenzie. The next hour was spent discussing the details of UNESCO’s work, covering topics such as UNESCO’s World Heritage project and other matters of international concern. Following this, we were treated to a short-tour of UNESCO, which includes a mural designed by Picasso.

Australian Ambassador to UNESCO and Deputy Head of Mission at the Paris Embassy, H. E. Mr Angus Mackenzie.

Australian Ambassador to UNESCO and Deputy Head of Mission at the Paris Embassy, H. E. Mr Angus Mackenzie.

Et, c’est tout: our Global Voices delegation was officially over. We said our goodbyes, and went our separate ways, with some returning to Australia, and others staying on to further explore Paris and Europe. It feels reductive to try to sum the trip up succinctly: the intensity, quality, and depth of the delegation were like nothing else any of us have experienced.

Never before had we met with so many interesting and important people in the international political sphere. From them we gained insight, knowledge and connections that no amount of ordinary university education can offer.

Ultimately, Global Voices truly delivered a formative experience for everyone involved, and I think that all of us have come away with refined and more mature interests in our various fields of study.

OECD Forum Wrap Up: Day 3

Ben Burgess, University of Melbourne Faculty of Business and Economics

With the official OECD forum officially over, day three provided the delegation with the chance to reflect on the policies issues discussed over the past few days and the opportunity to meet with some senior members of the OECD.

In the morning our first meeting was with Mr David Bradbury, Head of the Tax Policy and Statistic division for the OECD.  We discussed the changing role of tax reform in an increasingly globalised and digitised world. Given the decentralisation of markets and the emergence of crypto currency, it was fascinating to discuss how tax reform needs to change to accommodate for the future.

We were fortunate to meet someone who had previously worked within the Australian government as Assistant Treasury, now working at a global organisation within Europe. It was great to meet an Australian who has been shaping policy in different forms.

Mr David Bradbury, Head of the Tax Policy and Statistic division for the OECD.

Mr David Bradbury, Head of the Tax Policy and Statistic division for the OECD.

After this, we were lucky enough to meet another Australian politician, Mr Brian Pontifex, Australian Ambassador and permanent representative to the OECD. Like Mr Bradbury, Mr Pontifex had previously worked within Australian politics, as Chief of Staff to the Hon. Colin Barnett and it was intriguing to discuss how his roles have changed over his career. Mr. Pontifex had just arrived from a long day of ministerial meetings and provided us with an insight into the intricacies of how decisions at the OECD are made. The ministerial meetings that Mr Pontifex discussed were a significant part of the OECD week for policymakers and it was great to be able to discuss how topics being debated at the forum were also being implemented in policy meetings.

Our final meeting for the day was with Mr Andrew Wyckoff, Director for Science, Technology and Innovation. Mr Andrew’s department, specialising in technology and innovation, played an important role in this year’s OECD forum as issues such as the impact of technology on the workforce, Artificial Intelligence and the opportunities and threats of globalisation were debated.

Mr Brian Pontifex, Australian Ambassador and permanent representative to the OECD

Mr Brian Pontifex, Australian Ambassador and permanent representative to the OECD

As well discussing these issues in length, Mr Wyckoff asked for our input into ways in which the OECD can communicate its work and deliver key messages to the younger population. As many of our research topics touched on areas of technology and innovation, we were fortunate to be able to debate our findings with Mr Wyckoff and discuss potential solutions to these pressing problems.

Thursday was a fantastic day. The diverse range of topics discussed and rich insights gained from such different and experienced individuals inspired and energised the delegation.

Later that evening, the team ventured to Sacré-Cœur Basilica together, enjoying the splendid views of Paris offered from the site. The team also shared its last team dinner, which included the consumption of frog’s legs!

When in Paris...

OECD Forum Wrap Up: Day 2

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. 

OECD Forum Wrap Up: Day 1

By Gulandam Khan, Monash University

We kicked off day one in Paris at the OECD Forum with plenary speeches from the Secretary General Angel Gurria and Her Royal Highness, Crown Princess of Denmark, which set the tone and intent for discussions over the next 48 hours. They both spoke about the opportunities presented by globalisation, including those that threaten our ability to create inclusive societies despite so much technological advancement. One such example raised was the process of globalisation being hijacked by the global elite with the fall in labour share of national income, rise of market distortion, income concentration, a shift in taxation from high individuals to labour, and even tax avoidance all together. All of these trends in our economies and societies has meant that wealth concentration at the top 1% is now accounting for 50% of global assets held by individuals.



It then becomes increasingly clear that we need to rebalance these numbers. That’s where the role of the OECD and the agenda of the OECD Forum for 2017 comes into play. The Secretary General raised questions: how do we provide everyone with the opportunity to improve their well-being? How do we achieve a “cooperative globalisation” model?

These questions formed the golden thread for the sessions throughout the day. There were discovery labs on sustainable development, and how it has been affected (for better or for worse) by globalisation. The panel speakers included Ramiro Fernandez, Director of Climate Change, Fundación Avina, Rasmus Abildgaard Kristensen from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Denmark, Tatiana Landysheva, Vice President, AIESEC International and, of course, Bathylle Missika, Head of Partnerships & Networks, Development Centre, OECD.

Another similar session was on “bridging divides”, with panellists across multiple sectors. They discussed and debated what it means to bridge divides in an increasingly globalized world and how to actually do this. The most impactful component of this session was having someone from the corporate sector like Airbnb, alongside an NGO like Amnesty International, engaging in a debate about the future of our world and what steps governments and businesses need to take

This business, government, and civil society debate is what makes the OECD so unique and impactful. Similar robust discussions continued over topics like the ‘gig economy’, where people are less and less likely to have secure full-time jobs. The panel had a local Australian, Nicola Hazell, Head of Diversity for BlueChilli, alongside John Evans, the trade advisor for the OECD and the CEO and Chairmen of Randstad and Deloitte! They discussed the opportunities, as well as the threats, of an increasingly decentralized work system and the need to protect those most vulnerable as trends of the workforce predict increased casualization and less job security.



Between sessions, we met with Mari Kiviniemi, the Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD (Yes, that’s right!) in her office to talk about our research papers, her thoughts on our research areas, as well as all things that have been hot on the agenda of the OECD, including: trade liberalization, emerging technology, the future of jobs, and the ever changing roles of governments and corporations to tackle civil society issues. It was an absolute honor to get as much time and robust debate as we did with Ms Kiviniemi, considering it was right in the middle of OECD week’s Ministerial meetings. One ever-present theme from the forum was how much each of the leaders we met with was enthused about meeting with young people to hear our views on the changing future.



After our meeting with Ms Kiviniemi, some of us joined a ‘Meet the Author’ session with renounced ex-Guardian and BBC journalist Matthrew D’Ancona, who just released his new book on ‘Post truth: The new war on truth and how to fight back”. He spoke about how much data and information has shaped and empowered the decisions governments and corporations make, and how in an increasingly data driven and information heavy world, us citizens must navigate our ways to find the truth.

We also met with Jehan Savage from the Trade Department at the OECD, who spoke to us about the ever changing landscape of trade, particularly following global trends after the rise of Donald Trump and Brexit.

After a day of one on one with leaders like Ms Kiviniemi, heard from the likes of the Crown Princess of Denmark, the Chairman of Deloitte, CEOs of Amnesty International and leaders from Airbnb, it is safe to say the OECD experience was already off to an enriching, engaging, and awe inspiring start!

COP22: Final Wrap Up (Week 2, Days 9-11)

By Madelin Strupitis-Haddrick, University of Sydney (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences)

The success of climate conferences is often judged based on the texts produced or, in the case of Marrakech, it is based on the progress of technical negotiations for implementing the Paris Agreement. Indeed, international agreements are highly significant in catalysing state action, however non-governmental actors play a crucial and complementary role in realising climate solutions.

Following the opening of the high level segment, the conference was buzzing with government ministers, UN officials and representatives from academic, business and advocacy organisations.  Keeping our phones at hand, the Global Voices delegates split up according to our interests, attending sessions in the plenary hall, visiting the displays of environmental technology and innovation in the public zone, watching technical consultations and networking with non-governmental organisations.

On receiving word from our Program Managers, Matt and Riley, we regrouped for two highly anticipated meetings: back-to-back discussions with Helen Clark, former NZ Prime Minister and head of the UN Development Program and Mary Robinson, former Irish President and leader of the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice. As young women seeking to work for positive change in the world, Riley, Caitlin and I were moved to meet these idols in person and were inspired by their knowledge, passion and willingness to share this with us.

Following these meetings Matt, Sam and I attended the ‘Momentum for Change’ award night. Opened by an address from the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, this event highlighted the role of communities in developing solutions to climate change on a local level. From household solar systems in Bangladesh to sustainable cities, the projects that were showcased opened our eyes to the impacts individuals and communities can have on reducing emissions, improving access to clean energy, and improving resilience.

Between these meetings and side events, we also caught up with Liz, a former GV delegate now working for DFAT and Luke, a Researcher from ANU who shared fascinating analysis of the options for a Paris Agreement with and without the United States.

The last few days of the conference ended on a high note for climate action, with Canada, the US and Mexico all releasing Mid-Century Strategies outlining their climate action plans for 2050. Hearing these in the context of the strong leadership, community commitment and hardworking individuals, which we had witnessed, reaffirmed that it is individuals and groups acting at all levels who will be key to the implementation of such policies and the realisation of a safe climate.



We did it! 

We did it! 

COP22: Wrap Up Week 2 (Days 7 & 8)

By Samuel Edge, Murdoch University 

Meeting with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop following Australia's recent signing of Because the Ocean declaration, blue carbon and the recent ratification of the Paris Agreement.

Meeting with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop following Australia's recent signing of Because the Ocean declaration, blue carbon and the recent ratification of the Paris Agreement.

The second week of our conference started on an elevate note, the $100 Billion target had been reviewed and agreed upon: the Warsaw Mechanism’s review had reached its conclusion. A surprise, given the expectation that talks would continue well into 2017. This was progress. Not the sort of ground shattering, earth-rendering change that the conclusion of Paris was said to be, but things were progressing.

The best ideas presented at the COP so far have tended to come from the side events – away from the politics. Following my research on Finance, I found a number of highly informative sessions held by the Parties in their respective pavilions. One such example was a talk on financing South-South Cooperation projects and the likely direction for the region, in light of current and ongoing climate talks. Included in this group were directors from the Asian Development Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology, each providing a unique insight to the likely direction for development in the region, where the financing was expected to be sourced from and how public financing (from the UNFCCC Mechanisms) could assist in creating the space for private investment.

It has been interesting seeing how diplomats, civil servants and politicians appear to conduct themselves differently, with variances in style and motivation. Where the Ambassador and his/her associates will meet with stakeholders or interested parties for candid talks and light speeches, a Minister or Elected Representative will organise events for political gain and media attention. For example, many would consider gathering a number of engaged young delegates to discuss their views with various Environmental, Youth and Economic Ministers, an excellent opportunity to inform current leaders of young desires and nurture the development of future policy-makers. However, when such an event follows a script, the youth voices pre-selected from a chosen few and those who do speak are handed the microphone with reluctance, one questions the sincerity of a ‘commitment to climate change’ when those most effected have no voice.

The following day saw a number of high-level meetings of note. The first, with the CEO of 1 Million Women, Natalie Isaacs, who provided an excellent narrative on the capacity for a small change individual to enact a larger, national response. The second meeting was with Minister for the Environment and Energy, Josh Frydenberg, and his staff. Finally, my first (hopefully of many) cocktail event with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Minister Frydenberg and members of DFAT, for the various invited Australian stakeholders attending the COP and organised by the Carbon Market Institute.

Global Voices met with Minister Josh Frydenberg in Marrakech. The delegates discussed their research papers as well as Australia's recent ratification of the Paris Agreement. 

Global Voices met with Minister Josh Frydenberg in Marrakech. The delegates discussed their research papers as well as Australia's recent ratification of the Paris Agreement. 

As we've moved through the conference we've learned the ins and outs of COP22 and are beginning to more naturally offer our business cards to new and interesting people. Hopefully it will bear fruits – either way, we’ve enjoyed the ride. As we conclude this whirlwind adventure of unimaginable access and exposure to international affairs and diplomacy, I must say a massive 'Thank You' to the Global Voices team and our respective universities for creating this opportunity.