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Iveagh House Lecture - Angel Gurrìa, Secretary General of the OECD

Mr Angel Gurrìa, Secretary General of the OECD, delivered an Iveagh House Lecture on September 15th 2015. Mr. Gurrìa spoke on the theme of “Shifting Gears: Policy Challenges for the next 50 years.” His lecture highlighted the need to move beyond focussing on current crises and find new, long-term approaches to impending challenges.

Introductory remarks by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, TD, recalled that Ireland was among the founding members of the OECD in 1961, and that its “Investment in Education” report in 1966 helped to lay the foundations for the introduction of free secondary education here two years later. The Minister described 2015 as a critical year for sustainable development, referencing the UN's 'Addis Ababa Action Agenda', new Sustainable Development Goals, and the 'COP21' Paris climate conference in December.

Secretary General Gurrìa’s lecture focused on what he called the three Ps: People, Planet and Productivity. These refer to three long-term, shared social, economic and environmental challenges that require urgent attention. The first P, People, refers to a number of people-centred, global ‘megatrends’ including rising inequality and societal ageing. Planet refers to the well-publicised and imminent ‘collision course with nature’ that we are currently on. Climate change and global warming will have a long-term affect not only on the planet but also on the economy, worldwide. The final P, Productivity, refers to the need for countries to invest in research & development, facilitate the growth of new firms, and strengthen the diffusion of knowledge across the economy.

The lecture was followed by a Q&A session moderated by Professor Alan Barrett, Director of the ESRI during which Mr Gurrìa answered question on issues such as women in the workforce, Ireland’s ageing population and the welfare system. Secretary General Gurría was in Dublin for the launch of the biennial OECD Economic Survey of Ireland which took place earlier in the day with Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, TD.