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How to reform and be re-elected?

“To reform and to perform” is the goal of many a serious politician. It is not an easy task.

Transport drives forward

As we are now beginning to see the signs of a fragile recovery, the 2010 Forum will emphasise the role that innovation must play in the future of the transport sector. Decision-makers, experts and practitioners from all modes will consider the transport systems of tomorrow, the barriers that must be overcome to get there, and the innovative technologies, policies and collaborations needed for success.

Water quality and conservation

Although agriculture and industry are the thirstiest of all water consumers, household water use accounts for some 10-30% of total consumption in developed countries. As governments develop strategies to promote water conservation, an OECD survey of households conducted in 2008 offers insight into what really works. Based on some 10,000 responses across 10 countries, the answer is as clear as what comes out of the tap: having to pay for water encourages water-saving behaviour and investment in water-saving appliances, thus reducing consumption.

Water aid

Development aid for water supply and sanitation projects has risen in recent years after a decline in the late 1990s. Considering the importance of safe water, perhaps it hasn’t risen far enough. In 2007-08, OECD Development Assistance Committee countries committed on average $5.1 billion in bilateral annual aid to the water supply and sanitation sector, 50% up on 2003-04 in real terms. When combined with aid from multilateral agencies, the total was $6.6 billion. Over the 2003-08 period, bilateral aid to water increased by an annual average of 15%, while multilateral aid rose 3% annually. Still, for DAC countries, aid to the water supply and sanitation sector rose to just 7% of all aid commitments in 2007-08, only slightly up from 6% in 2003-04.

After Copenhagen: the European business perspective

European businesses were disappointed with the climate change agreement hammered out in Copenhagen. Here’s one way forward.

Climate change: No cop out

At Copenhagen world leaders moved forward in step on climate change. More progress is needed in the year ahead.

Roundtable on the jobs crisis

Ministers responsible for employment from around the world gathered at the OECD on 28-29 September to discuss the jobs crisis. In our eighth OECD Observer ministers' roundtable, we ask six representatives, from Canada (co-Chair), Italy (co-Chair), Sweden (vice-Chair), France, New Zealand, and Chile, which is a candidate for OECD accession: What new policy actions are you taking to improve the jobs situation in your country?

Investment check-list

A Check-list for Public Action has been developed by the OECD and its partners to assist governments considering engaging with the private sector in the water sector. It is organised around the OECD Principles for Private Sector Participation in Infrastructures–some 24 principles grouped under five points that highlight sector-specific features, government considerations and available tools and practices:

Economic instruments in the fight against climate change

2008 will be a decisive year in the battle against climate change. Hopefully, it will see us forge an international consensus so an agreement can be reached in Copenhagen in 2009 that will allow us to build on the Kyoto Protocol.

Economics climate

Harsh financial reality often rides roughshod over good intentions when it comes to corporate and national balance sheets. Climate change is no exception, for though it may rouse worldwide concern, it also makes people uneasy because of how much it might cost and who should pay.

Water and the OECD: Towards a symbiotic relationship

Water is a growing challenge for all countries, and a fresh, more coherent approach to tackling it is now needed.

Femmes d'affaires

Long ago I gave up trying to break through the so-called “glass ceiling” that has kept women like me out of higher management. Instead I decided to create new enterprises in which management could be reinvented by women. On 8 March 2005, I launched a business incubator devoted exclusively to projects by female entrepreneurs.

Migration, globalisation and gender:
Some key lessons

Just how significant is international migration in the light of other globalisation developments? One obvious starting point for answering the question is to ask how many of the current world population of 6.7 billion people are international migrants, defined as persons living outside their country of birth.

Tackling global challenges and the OECD

With the world economy today experiencing turbulence on a number of diverse fronts, OECD countries are preoccupied with meeting these challenges.

Solving transport's CO2 problem

Any serious attempt to deal with climate change must involve transport. Transport accounts for 13% of all world greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, though this figure takes into account CO2 sources other than fuel combustion, such as forestry, land-use and biomass burning. A look at CO2 emissions from fuel combustion only shows the transport sector accounts for about 23% worldwide and about 30% in the OECD area.

Climate change special

Welcome to this special online focus on climate change, in view of the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia, 3-14 in December. "Ambitious policies to tackle climate change should lead to a structural shift in the economy – away from carbon-intensive activities. So the question that remains is: how can this transition be managed in an economically efficient and socially responsible manner? We should not exaggerate the cost of change. Action is affordable."

Small is renewable

Your energy focus covers the renewable question very well (No 258/259, December 2006). But what if the renewable promise became a broken one? It might, if mindsets don't change.

Innovation, globalisation and the environment

Globalisation is exerting pressure on the environment, but it may also provide solutions. Could green be turned to gold? Climate change, melting polar ice, rising sea-levels, unpredictable weather patterns, drought, rampant urbanisation, demographic explosions: the list goes on. Many people blame globalisation for these ills, and it is true to say that increased economic pressures inevitably leave a bigger footprint on our planet.

Globalisation’s first King

Alex King, a much-admired director of the OECD, passed away on 28 February 2007. He was 98. Now that the OECD has gone “global”, it is worth remembering that Alex King was also the founder, in cooperation with Aurelio Peccei, of the Club of Rome, which first put the spotlight on the crisis of globalisation (notably in a report published in 1972 entitled The Limits to Growth*).

Coal faces the future

In OECD countries coal has a blackened image. Yet, it remains a key component of any energy mix. Innovation might help make that future brighter.

Fuelling emissions

Transport is the main cause of carbon dioxide emissions, ahead of power generation or industry. While aviation accounts for 14% of transport-based CO2 emissions in the EU, roads have a larger effect. In OECD countries, road transport accounts for over 80% of all transport-related energy consumption, for most of the accidents and the majority of air pollutant emissions, noise and habitat degradation.

Water and farms: Towards sustainable use

Both consumption and pollution of water by agriculture are becoming serious concerns. Yet, water resources can be used much more efficiently in producing food and fibre, while minimising pollution and supporting ecosystems. How to achieve this depends on mindsets and societal goals, as well as institutional systems and structures. And that means government.

Here comes the sun

With oil prices historically high and worries about global warming, greater attention is being paid to renewable energy potential. Take solar energy, for instance, which is already used for water heating and cooling systems.

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.

Energy policy

Oil prices may be high, causing more than a little anxiety among governments and the public. Yet, it is precisely at such times that a calm look at the energy situation is needed.

The energy challenge

The Ministerial Council meeting and Forum this year provide a rich menu of issues for consideration including investing in energy, structural adjustment in response to globalisation, development challenges, as well as the progress of trade negotiations under the Doha Round.