Watch again: OECD faces major transition, says Kaljulaid on candidacy

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President of Estonia and now OECD Secretary-General candidate Kersti Kaljulaid.
President of Estonia and now OECD Secretary-General candidate Kersti Kaljulaid. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

President Kersti Kaljulaid says that the world is facing a period of great transition in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, as she prepares her candidacy for Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

As reported on ERR News, President Kaljulaid was formally proposed candidate last week, following weeks of speculation, and she gave a press conference in English, which started at 12.00 p.m. Estonian time (click video link above).

The president presented her vision for the OECD and then answered a few questions submitted by viewers and moderated by her press adviser, Taavi Linnamäe.

Kaljulaid: Period of great transition

"In 2020, we are living in a period of great transition," President Kaljulaid said ahead of the press conference, via a press release.

In her presentation, Kaljulaid noted the inter-linked issues of clean energy consumption and digital societies.

Fifteen percent of the world's energy consumption is related to the internet, she said, and at the same time digital tools help to manage green energy production and solve the problem of carbon emissions.

She also listed education, gender equality and healthcare for all, particularly in the light of the pandemic, as topics of interest for her.

An OECD digital platform should be set up, Kaljulaid went on, citing her experience with Estonia as an e-state as being assets in making progress.

OECD work on digital taxation is bearing fruit, she went on, but also needs to adapt to changing economies and situations and different countries and their populations.

The 37-state OECD, the bulk of whose members are in Europe and the anglosphere, must also be ready to accept new members if they meet the criteria, Kaljulaid added.

With regard to the challenges she would focus on if she were appointed the next OECD Secretary General next summer, Kaljulaid, ahead of the press conference, stressed the need to inspire the member states to consider the potential of digital transformation in achieving obvious common goals: Sustaining democracy, developing the economy and also saving our planet.

"We need to develop some greenfield thinking for harnessing the power of digital, including rethinking the global tax co-operation from the scratch, knowing that both goods and services markets are global and driven by more and more independent workforce and striving to remove administrative restrictions from these developments. We have to analyse how the tax model of industrial era needs to gradually grow into a digital era, tax system, taking into account the need of serving globally our globally working citizens," the president went on.

Clyde Kull, Estonia's OECD permanent representative, said: "The OECD continues to be one of the most important international organisations for ensuring sustainable development, particularly now, where the it is providing in-depth analyses and the advice how to cope with the economic consequences of COVID-19 crisis."

Kull added that: "Estonia is actively participating in the work of more than 180 different formats of committee work where it contributes and shares its experience in the field of e-governance, education, digitalisation and other areas. Nominating Kersti Kaljulaid as a candidate for the Secretary-General demonstrates Estonia's ambition for an even more substantial contribution to the OECD."

Kersti Kaljulaid also noted the giant leaps Estonia has made since independence in 1991, not least in education, where it is in the front rank internationally, according to the OECD itself.

Further future challenges and opportunities include a decline in tax flows from jobs in industry, the necessity of building on progress made in digital identities, and the battle against climate change.

The presentation with Kersti Kaljulaid can be watched here.

The video is also available on Kersti Kaljulaid's Facebook page here.

The OECD is an intergovernmental economic organisation with 37 member countries, founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade. It is seen as a "rich countries' club" since members are generally high-income economies, with a high level of human development.

José Ángel Gurría, who became Secretary-General in June 2006, is stepping down in part due to Mexico wishing to boost its chances of providing the next World Trade Organization (WTO) head, after current leader Roberto Azevêdo stands down at the end of this month.

From among Estonia's neighboring countries, Mari Kiviniemi, former Prime Minister of Finland, was OECD Deputy Secretary General 2014-2018.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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