Ambassador Yohannes Addresses the Champion Mayors for Inclusive Growth
The following remarks were delivered by Ambassador Daniel W. Yohannes, Chair of the Friends of Inclusive Growth Group, at the second meeting of the Champion Mayors for Inclusive Growth, hosted by Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo on November 21, 2016.
In 2013, President Obama called rising inequality “the defining challenge of our time.”
His words were met by some with surprise, even skepticism. Today they are undeniable.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are seeing – in very striking terms – the impact of inequality in countries across the world. Many people feel left behind by the global economy, and they are making their voices heard. We must listen and respond. And that’s why we are here today. But how?
I believe we need to look to the example of climate change. Like climate change, rising inequality is a complex global challenge that requires a fundamental shift in the way we think about — and pursue — economic growth. In the case of the climate movement, cities, NGO’s and businesses took the lead in policy experimentation and advocacy, laying the groundwork for action at the national level. They can do the same on inequality. They can lead a global movement for inclusive economic growth.
You, the mayors, are on the front lines of this battle. Just as carbon emissions are concentrated in cities, inequality tends to be higher in urban areas. You drove the global policy agenda on climate, and you can drive the agenda on inclusive growth. That’s why I encouraged and supported the creation of the coalition of Champion Mayors for Inclusive Growth.
Your leadership is critical for two reasons. First, you can bring inclusive growth down to a practical level. You can help figure out which policies actually create inclusive growth.
Second, you can help change the narrative. Inequality is dividing us. It is pushing people to look for scapegoats such as immigrants and corporations, when these groups are actually critical to inclusive growth. We need to do a better job of educating the public about the root causes of inequality and how they can be addressed. And this is where your advocacy and your leadership can make all the difference.
To support your work, I am proud to announce that the United States Department of State is sponsoring the development of a special web platform for inclusive growth.
The platform will do two things. First, it will allow you, the Champion Mayors, to share information and ideas privately, and to keep the conversation going between meetings. Second, it will highlight your leadership to the public, and help educate them about how we can all work together to curb rising inequality. In the months ahead, the OECD will be consulting with you, to ensure that the web platform is developed to suit your needs.
I should also mention that we have been so inspired by the Champion Mayors network, we are working to adapt it to the private sector. We just launched the OECD Initiative on Business and Inclusive Growth last week, and we look forward to building synergies with your efforts.
In closing, I want to congratulate all of the members and partners of the inclusive cities campaign. I want to thank the OECD for taking the lead on this critical issue, particularly Secretary General Gurria and Gabriela Ramos. I am honored to have supported this initiative, and I look forward to great things to come.