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Happy birthday, OECD Observer!

November marks the 50th anniversary of the OECD Observer, the award-winning public magazine of the OECD. The brainchild of Thorkil Kristensen, the first secretary general of the organisation, the OECD Observer was launched at the 2nd ministerial meeting 27-28 November 1962. He recruited a former war resistant and political journalist from his native Denmark, Anker Randsholt, to do the job. The audience? Busy policymakers who had no time “to read more than a fraction” of the OECD’s already considerable and somewhat technical work.

In those post-war decades divulging information to the public was a delicate exercise. Policy had inched forward in a Cold War atmosphere of confidentiality, not to mention paranoia. Today, information is currency, and as Kristensen wrote in the first editorial, by ensuring the OECD Observer was distributed at the 1962 ministerial meeting, “a step was taken towards a wider dissemination of this [organisation’s] knowledge.”

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Acting on gender

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Half a century of country surveys online

The entire collection of OECD‘s country economic surveys has now been made accessible online at the OECD i-Library. Published regularly since the creation of the OECD in 1961, and to mark the Organisation’s 50th anniversary, this online archive offers a unique historical perspective of the economic changes OECD countries have undergone since 1961. It is an invaluable resource for anyone tracing their efforts to rebuild their economies after World War II, addressing the oil crisis in the 1970s, the dot.com revolution and bubble, and the economic, educational and environmental challenges of the 21st century.

The OECD is a "force for good"

“The government’s top priority is reducing the nation’s deficit and returning Britain to strong and sustainable growth. That means the right economic policies at home and creating the right economic environment abroad.

Japan will bounce back quickly

“[…] On behalf of the OECD, I express our profound sorrow at the enormous loss of life and extend our condolences to all those who have been affected by this terrible tragedy. At the same time, we admire the courage and resolve of the Japanese people in face of adversity, and we are confident that Japan will emerge from this disaster stronger and better.

A majestic start: How the OECD was won

It would be easy to think that the organisation created in 1961 was the inevitable next stage in the evolution of the OEEC, the European body originally set up to administer the Marshall Plan in 1947. But the OECD did not simply "replace" the OEEC. Nor was its creation inevitable or easy.

Foresight at 50: Looking back at looking forward

Strategic foresight is an essential tool in any government’s toolbox. It’s what enables policymakers to anticipate developments better, encouraging them to be more creative in reflecting on their options, and offering them more time to prepare and set in train their programmes. It is an area in which some governments excel, while others perform less well. It is also an area subject to much misunderstanding and confusion.

Charting a disastrous course on climate

The UK government has prepared a map of the world showing how the effects of climate change would differ by region. The map, presented to OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría by the British ambassador to the OECD, Dominic Martin, shows the likely impact on the planet of a 4 °C rise in the global average temperature.

Outreach, reform and the economics of climate change

Concerns for the world economy were already building when OECD governments met for the annual Ministerial Council Meeting (MCM) last June.

Climate and economic rationality

How to be green and competitive was the centre of attention when environment ministers of OECD countries met at the end of April for the first time in four years. How to fight climate change and maintain competitiveness is a question that concerns many countries outside the OECD too, and the governments of four candidate countries for OECD membership–Chile, Estonia, Israel and Slovenia–participated at the conference, as did Brazil, China, Indonesia and South Africa, four countries with whom the OECD is strengthening its relations in a programme of “enhanced engagement”.

Cotis leads top French bureau as Lalonde becomes climate change envoy

Cotis leads top French bureau–
Jean-Philippe Cotis, the OECD’s chief economist, has been appointed as director general of the French national statistics institute INSEE (Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques, or the National Statistics and Economic Studies Institute).

Is nuclear energy back?

A decade ago, even thinking about expanding nuclear energy was almost taboo in some OECD countries, but this may now be changing. For Luis Echávarri, director-general of the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), those taboos are now being challenged as governments and people everywhere seem ready to openly discuss the potential of the nuclear option.

Is nuclear energy back?

A decade ago, even thinking about expanding nuclear energy was almost taboo in some OECD countries, but this may now be changing. For Luis Echávarri, director-general of the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), those taboos are now being challenged as governments and people everywhere seem ready to openly discuss the potential of the nuclear option.

Global warning

Three years after the adoption of the OECD 10-year Environmental Strategy, ministers acknowledged that they are “not on track” for implementing it by 2010 and that more ambitious action is needed. OECD and non-OECD ministers or deputy-ministers met in Paris to assess progress.

Smart water

A key Millennium Development Goal agreed at the 2002 Johannesburg summit on sustainable development is to halve the numbers of people in developing countries without access to safe water and basic sanitation.

The OECD: Securing the future

The OECD is an organisation with a bright future and a key role to play, as long as it carries out some serious reforms. A difficult, but necessary challenge. 

Long-term energy

Noé van Hulst has been appointed director of the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Office of Long-Term Co-operation and Policy Analysis.