Desktop site
OECD Observer
Home
Menu
Can Big Tech play fair? I Casper Klynge I OECD Podcasts

These 25 climate actions can change our lives for the better

Climate change affects lives and livelihoods everywhere. We can and must act now to tackle climate change and make a better world for our children. We have the knowledge, the tools and the financial resources. Now our countries must deliver on commitments. Here are 25 climate actions to get us on track by 2025.

OECD Environment at a Glance Digital Platform | Climate Change

How worrying is the outlook for the global economy?



The OECD expects world economic growth to fall to 2.9% this year- its weakest annual rate since the financial crisis.

Setting course for a human-centred AI

Fifty years ago, the world watched in awe as the first humans landed on the moon. Today, artificial intelligence (AI) is helping us to build on this achievement, by giving us the power to map the moon, to locate and count craters, and even (virtually) to moonwalk!

What are the OECD Principles on AI?

Artificial intelligence is still in its early days and policymakers are still finding their feet. To what extent can they, and should they, encourage this powerful new technology, and how can they address any risks? The OECD Principles on AI can help. They promote artificial intelligence (AI) that is innovative and trustworthy and that respects human rights and democratic values.

Societal intelligence

Seventy years ago, scientist Alan Turing philosophically asked whether machines could think. Coined in 1956, the terms artificial intelligence and AI are now everywhere. Since 2011, breakthroughs in “machine learning”–an AI subset that uses a statistical approach–has dramatically improved the ability of machines to make predictions. A machine learning technique called “neural networks”, as well as large datasets and computing power, are fueling AI’s rapid expansion.

AI and Europe’s medium-sized firms: How to overcome an Achilles heel

Artificial intelligence could become very real in the world of business. But funding needs to be corrected first for medium-sized firms, where millions of jobs are at stake.

Science and AI: Don’t forget the human factor…

Ever heard of “magic-angle” graphene? This is a next generation material and newly-found superconductor that could revolutionise energy efficiency, and much more. It could help us address climate change. AI could play a key role in this. But real scientists are needed too… 

AI: Getting the plumbing right

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is sometimes thought of as something esoteric, a shiny idea that may become real at some distant point in the future. But the reality is that although AI is developing globally at different rates, AI is already being integrated rapidly into the internal workings of governments, business, civil society, and more.

Job automation
Talent attractiveness

Talented and skilled individuals have a key role to play in a country’s future prosperity. They hold jobs that are key for innovation and technological progress, and ultimately contribute to stronger economic growth with other employment opportunities and better living conditions for all. OECD countries increasingly compete to attract and retain talented workers notably by adopting more favourable migration policies for the best and the brightest. This competition has led to a convergence of policy frameworks but significant differences in policies and practices remain. Beyond conditions for migration, many other factors contribute to shape the attractiveness of countries to foreign talent.

OECD Podcasts

How does the OECD help shape better policies for better lives? In just 15 minutes, our podcasts offer our listeners insightful discussions and thought-provoking debate with OECD experts and guests on the economic, social, environmental, governance and technological challenges of our time.*

Regional development: Why places matter for better policies

OECD countries are at a critical juncture, as they face deep and often widening inequalities between people and places. Responding to the concerns of communities that feel left behind is a political priority. Policymakers need to focus their efforts more sharply on the places where people live ensuring a more even distribution of services and opportunities. As the OECD Regional Development Policy Committee (RDPC) celebrates its 20-year anniversary, its clear voice is needed more than ever.

Five facts about regional inequalities and what to do about them

Popular unrest, street protests and calls for a return to protectionism: today’s headlines make it crystal clear that too many people feel left behind or simply left out. The economic and social crisis didn’t help, and and these divides are visible in our regions. We should have seen it coming, that by concentrating too much on national averages, the needs of too many communities would be overlooked. Our regional blindspots and insufficient place-based efforts are showing.  No wonder people’s patience has run out. But a closer look at these regional divides shows that by reinvigorating regional development policies in strategic ways, particularly in our age of digital transformation, today’s geographical disadvantages could be turned into tomorrow’s opportunities.

Start-up event, Helsinki, Finland
Experimental Finland

Most people spend their evenings kicking back with a book or whatever’s on Netflix. In Finland, they’re teaching themselves artificial intelligence (AI). In the summer of 2017, computer scientist Teemu Roos heard that the government was looking for ways to teach ordinary people the basics of artificial intelligence. It would be a continuing education initiative­—not necessarily to train people to become machine-learning engineers, but to understand how neural networks work and grasp how AI is changing the way we do things. 

The last (plastic) straw?

“I just want to say one word to you. Are you listening? Plastics.” This infamous advice, delivered to Ben, played by Dustin Hoffman in the 1967 film, The Graduate, foresaw a great career in plastics. 

Housing first: How Finland is ending homelessness

It was seven years ago when Arvo (not his real name) first walked into this building. Back then, it was a hostel for homeless men run by the Salvation Army and had a certain reputation. Arvo can still remember opening the door to his dormitory. There were three men sitting on their beds, their faces sullen and melancholy. This would be his new home for a while.

Digital planet: How smart technologies can help us solve our climate and infrastructure challenges

Back in the 1960s, when my dad wanted to make an international call for work, he had to order it 24 hours in advance. Today, he uses WhatsApp to make toll-free calls from anywhere, anytime, in just a couple of clicks.

A day in the life of Shirley, platform driver



"My husband said, ‘Hey Shirley, why don’t you consider becoming a driver…you can work your own hours’." Thanks to smartphones and apps, Shirley revamped her work to suit her life. There are risks, but satisfaction, too. Watch our video. 

Where are all the women in tech?

For proof that the tech industry is not particularly welcoming to women, one need look no further than Google, where women account for just 31% of headcount, falling to a mere 20% in pure tech roles. They are also paid less than their male counterparts, according to a class action lawsuit filed in 2017 by three former employees on behalf of “all women employed by Google in California” for discrimination and unequal pay for equal work. Which did nothing to stop another former employee, who had been laid off after circulating a sexist memo, lodging his own complaint against the Internet giant for “ostracising” conservative white men.

No more “9 to 5”

“Workin' 9 to 5; What a way to make a living”, Dolly Parton sang in her classic hit. The year was 1980, and Parton’s character in the eponymous film, 9 to 5, already pioneered numerous policies of the new world of work to come, such as flexible work hours and a job-sharing programme. Some of these changes have since become widespread in certain countries and industries. And they affect social protection policies, too, as the OECD report The Future of Social Protection: What Works for Non-standard Workers? shows.

Cool generation

Climate change appears to be gathering pace, with the four years since 2015 being the hottest on record. Of course, 2015 was also the year the Paris Climate Agreement was signed by 195 countries, with the goal of holding the rise in the global average temperature to well within a maximum of 2°C above pre-industrial levels over the long term. But that goal is in peril, which means efforts to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions must be stepped up.

OECD Forum 2019: World in EMotion

Are we ready for the future of work? How can we forge a new societal contract? What must be done to strengthen international co-operation and bolster trust? These are just some of the key issues up for debate at the 20th anniversary OECD Forum 2019, 20-21 May. Join us and let's build the future together.

Fighting corruption one YouTube video at a time

Some young people are walking down a busy street. A man with a video camera stops them and asks some questions about what they like best about their country. They say they like the food, the beach, and a few other things. Then the man asks what they don’t like about their country. The conversation soon turns to corruption. Want to get your driving licence? “Bribing’s the only way to pass the test.” Want to get your student papers without having to wait forever? “Throw in an extra €10.”

Digitalisation: “The global tax rules are changing”–Pascal Saint-Amans, OECD tax chief

Everybody agrees that tech giants and all other businesses should pay their fair share of taxes where they create value. But is a digital tax the way to go? OECD tax chief Pascal Saint-Amans says no. The OECD has secured an agreement among 127 countries and jurisdictions to spearhead talks on changing the rules of the taxation game: shifting more taxing rights to market jurisdictions where goods and services—digital or not—are being consumed…away from the countries where multinational companies are headquartered. What’s at stake? Nothing short of changing fundamental tax rules to address the 21st century’s globalised and digitalising economy.

Are digital technologies the new Holy Grail?

Digital innovations are everywhere, in our pockets, cars and homes. However, while digital technologies seem to offer great potential to enhance firm productivity, productivity growth has slowed sharply in most OECD countries over the past two decades. Read more on the OECD Ecoscope blog.

Are platform workers really their own boss?

Smart communications technology has enabled people to hire themselves out as independently contracting workers in everything from taxi drives to video producers and gardeners. But what is the status of these workers, and what are the challenges of the so-called gig economy?

The funding crowd

“Every crowd has a silver lining,” said P.T. Barnum, America’s “greatest showman”. For businesses, Barnum’s play on words is especially true: crowds are becoming something of a motherlode of funding for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). With bank lending declining, smaller businesses are looking for alternative ways of financing. Thanks to the world wide web, they can now solicit funds not just from banks and professional investors, but from virtually anyone with internet access. This approach can take different forms. Besides crowdfunding (where many individual contributions–usually sourced online–make up the funding), examples include online invoice financing (where SMEs, for instance, can borrow online against unpaid invoices) and peer-to-peer lending activities (online services that match lenders with SME borrowers). Together, these funding opportunities constitute the online alternative finance market. Read the full article here.

The dark side of the digital economy: Bad things come in small packages

In a small town just outside Montreal, Jake [not his real name] struggles with drug addiction. His dependence on numerous substances has brought him in and out of hospital and rehabilitation programmes many times. What is striking about Jake’s addiction is how he acquires the drugs: not from a neighbourhood drug dealer, but through the post and courier companies.  “It’s remarkably easy business,” he says. “Just like buying common, everyday items on the surface–as opposed to dark–web. Only there are a few extra steps. After you provide your false personal and delivery information and whatever sum of money is agreed upon, your package arrives at the designated address disguised as something else in order to get through the postal service.” Read the full article here.

Tackle corruption to protect wildlife

Illegal wildlife trade is one of the most profitable forms of illicit trade worldwide, a multibillion-dollar international industry that has grown in sophistication, and volume. Estimates value the trade at somewhere between US$7–23 billion annually, making it a lucrative part of a wider environmental crime industry worth over US$175 billion.

A cut above: A guide to improving due diligence in garments and footwear supply chains

Supply chain management is a tough challenge for global companies. A new OECD guidance can help them get it right.

No longer burning down the house

In the early 1600s in North America, colonists ruined by a bad crop would often move on to new territory. In order to save on costs, they would burn down their homes to collect the nails, which would be used to build their next house. The image is one of restlessness and ingenuity, and mobility, contributing to a myth that many people there still cherish.

Data vs deforestation: A breakthrough in supply-chain transparency

We are eating our way through tropical forests. Whether it’s a cappuccino for breakfast, a burger for lunch or a chocolate bar as an after-dinner treat, the things we consume in OECD countries are often linked to deforestation in the tropics, where trees are falling at alarming rates.

Infrastructure: We must find alternatives to state funding

On 16 October 2018, the authorities of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) announced the signing of an Inga 3 project exclusive development agreement with two consortia (Chinese and Spanish). This is a milestone for Africa. After eight years of studies and discussions, this hydroelectric dam project on the Congo River will finally enter its operational phase.

OECD Observer Roundtable on regional integration in Africa

What policy initiatives would you prioritise to promote regional integration in Africa and what international co-operation initiatives would you encourage most?

Yanis Varoufakis on austerity and the Democracy in Europe Movement (DiEM): OECD Podcast

One country that symbolised the crisis of the last 10 years was Greece. Its insolvency embarked the country on a long regime of bail-outs and austerity. This August, Greece officially emerged from the crisis, with the OECD forecasting GDP growth again. So, did the austerity work? The former Greek finance minister and co-founder of the Democracy in Europe Movement (DiEM) remains unconvinced. Mr Varoufakis was a guest at the OECD’s “10 years after the crisis” conference.

OECD on the crisis and after: 10 years, 10 stories

It’s been a decade since the financial crisis changed our world, forever. What did the OECD say at the time? What has the organisation been saying since?