As the world scrambles to respond to the current global pandemic, continued attention to fostering a society engendering prosperity, equality, opportunity and well-being in our world seems like an insurmountable challenge.
Founded six decades ago by the U.S. State Department with what is now over three dozen nations — and an additional 70 affiliate nations — the low-key Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD) brings valuable insight to this challenge.
Based in Paris, the OECD aims to improve the global economy and promote world trade by providing an outlet for the governments of member countries and cultures to work together to find solutions to common problems.
In addition to the U.S., among the current members are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
The organization has weighed in on a dozen basic policy issues that, OECD believes, address important elements of the current environment.
Major concerns outlined in its study, compiled from member nations, are summarized below:
Corruption is affecting the livelihoods and lives of many citizens. Corruption erodes the faith of citizens in the rule of law of their governments, according to OECD, and is a growing threat to the national security of our country and others around the world.
Competition, as the organizing principle of modern, free-market economies requires a vigorous market competition that "enhances efficiency and consumer welfare, boosts growth and makes economies more competitive and innovative," according to the study.
Education, the great equalizer and the engine of today's knowledge economy, is more important than ever. The OECD hopes to provide a unique forum to compare performance, share expertise, best practices and innovative ideas in hopes of providing students with the know-how and career-readiness to be able to compete in the global marketplace.
Energy, through participation in the International Energy Agency (IEA), seeks to maintain a stable oil supply and supports reliable, affordable and clean energy throughout the world.
Export credits save taxpayers money through OECD Export Credits to help ensure a level playing field for exports.
A green growth strategy, adopted nearly a decade ago by OECD, asserts that economic growth, job creation and environmental protection are not enough. The sustainable use of natural resources combined with environmental protection can and will improve economic performance and secure prosperous future.
Health care goals that ensure that all citizens have access to high quality services — even at a time when our economies are feeling the powerful effects of the global economic crisis of COVID-19. This challenge is compounded by the global realities of aging populations, increasing costs and rising expectations.
Preserving and nurturing an open internet and shaping global norms that support economic opportunity is one important way to promote human rights. OECD members seek to develop and promote regulatory principles, guidelines and best practices for the future in an open and free internet economy.
The outreach of OECD reaches beyond member nations by expanding the involvement of some 70 nonmember nations through legal instruments regions of strategic interest using a variety of engagement tools.
Responsible business conduct in the global marketplace is a reality as the world becomes ever more connected as businesses seek customers, sourcing materials, and investments. The OECD's Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) offer the most comprehensive, government-backed recommendations on responsible business conduct (RBC) ever produced.
Trade. Maintaining open global markets for goods and services is the goal. The OECD serves a critical function in helping members advance their shared agenda of ensuring a strong and dynamic global trading system that can generate sustained economic growth and overcome the challenges of the global economic crisis.
Women and families. Despite social and economic progress women have made around the world, many gaps persist — the wage gap, poverty gap, education gap, technology gap, access-to-capital gap. OECD members are working to close these gaps by showing that countries can increase equity and growth by improving their current and future workforce.
Independent observers report that the OECD is a reliable source of comparable statistics and economic and social data. The OECD also monitors trends, analyzes and forecasts economic developments, and researches social changes and evolving patterns in trade, environment, agriculture, technology, taxation and other areas.
Begun in 1961 during the Kennedy administration, the U.S. has found continuing value in its membership in the OECD, as do other responsible members who seek multilateral cooperation to solve international problems affecting the economic and social well-being of all of us.
Chuck Slocum is president of the Williston Group, a management consulting firm; a former strategic planner at Honeywell. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org