Organization for Economic Co-Operation & Development (OECD) Public Forum 2017 | Paris, France

Adam Camenzuli
Sofiya Kominko
Theresa Yurkewich
Sara Elhawash
Yanish Bhoolaton
Ross Linden-Fraser

Written by Head Delegate: Adam Camenzuli

1. Executive Summary

From June 3-9, 2017, Young Diplomats of Canada (YDC) sent five young Canadian delegates to attend the OECD Forum and hold meetings with Canadian and international stakeholders in Paris, France. The OECD Forum was held on June 6 & 7 and the delegation organized and met with over a dozen people/organizations before and after the OECD Forum. The delegation was led by Head Delegate, Adam Camenzuli and delegates included Sofiya Kominko (Communications Coordinator), Theresa Yurkewich, Yanish Bhoolaton, and Ross Linden-Fraser. Sara Elhawash joined the delegation as a representative of YDC.

Each member of the delegation chose his or her own sessions of interest depending on their professional background and career/personal goals. Our delegates come from very different backgrounds, ranging from government to social enterprise to law to the private sector. There were many thought-provoking panels and presentations at the OECD Forum but the Idea Factory stood out as a particular favourite of our delegation. Many of these events included a long waiting list. Accordingly, thanks go to the past YDC delegates who recommended we pre-register for them.

Our delegation organized a series of meetings with many stakeholders, both Canadian and international. We met with our Canadian representation in France including the Embassy as well as the Canadian Delegation to the OECD. We also met with many international organizations, which the team identified as organizations of interest. Although it was a very packed schedule, the team learned a lot from these meetings and we were able to extend our understanding of international policy through asking additional questions.

There were many key successes including meeting the Australian, New Zealand and Polish youth delegations before the OECD Forum itself. This helped to build relationships which carried on throughout the week. We also had a great meeting with the Canadian Embassy in Paris, the Canadian Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Finance, the World Bank and UNESCO. 


2. Forum Sessions Attended & Meetings

June 3
Seymour Projects

·      Deep-dive into life/personal motivations
·      Nice introduction for the week


June 4
Canadian-organized intro social event

·      Great to meet other delegations to learn more about their YDC-like organizations


June 5
Canadian Embassy

·      Met with Ambassador Lawrence Cannon and other high-profile diplomats to learn about Canadian policy/trade in France

·      Questions included the future role of diplomats in the digital age


June 5
Canadian Delegation to the OECD

·      Met with lawyer/seasoned diplomat Dénis Langlois and discussed Canada’s role at OECD and future of OECD

·      Discussed possibility of adding more countries and how populism is changing the OECD

June 6
Morning Mindfulness

·      Introduction to OECD Forum and what want to learn and experience

·      Opening up each of us to the experience of the OECD Forum


June 6
Opening Session

·      Secretary General Angel Gurría discussed anniversary of Marshall Plan and that a minority reaps the benefits of globalization

·      Talked about building “social elevators” to help people benefit more from international trade and globalization

June 6
Idea Factory: Post-Truth World

·      Amazing and interactive take on how to address the issue of “fake news” with a small presentation and break-out sessions

·      Many delegates’ favourite part of the entire OECD Forum

June 6
Bridging Divides

·      Discussing the increasing divide in society given globalization and digitization

·      Jobs and government trust were discussed

June 6
Beyond Biases: What Does My Headscarf Mean to You?

·      Yassmin Abdel-Magied explained the underlying biases experienced working in construction in Australia


June 6
Mobile as a Mechanism to Solve the Refugee Crisis

·      Excellent examples of low-cost technology being used to have major impact (entrepreneurship education in Iraq reaching 1.5 million people)


June 6
Inclusive Growth and Globalization

·      Talking about formal “textbook” strategies to reduce inequality

·      Impact of Nordic “Law of Jante” on development


June 6
How Screen Technology Is Changing the Way We Think & Feel

·      Brain plasticity allows the brain to change over time

·      Over the span of one's life, different types of technologies may lead to changes of the brain at the neurological level (e.g. video games causing a short attention span)


June 6
21st Century Skills

·      Digital literacy is a necessity in a decentralized digital age

·      Equally important are digital problem solving skills–engaging with technology and also using technology to solve issues


June 6
The Neuroscience of Consciousness

·      Shelil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International, gave a pragmatic approach as to how youth are coping with the changing landscape of traditional jobs

June 6
Inclusive Growth & Civil Society

·      This required registration and was limited to several different mini-groups on various topics.

·      Was placed in Rural and Urban divide and we were able to draft notes about each individual’s relationship to the topic and country

·      Also shared some ideas and policies


June 6
Wealth into Well-being: How Can We Measure Happiness?

·      Based on the book Life of Hygge by Meik Wiking, he talked about how tax systems in different countries affect the well-being of their citizens

·      We also discussed and compared happiness in the world and the different measurement scales of happiness


June 6
Tools for Empowerment

·      A good introduction to the Civic Tech Hub

·      Highly technical presentation of digital tools for policy-makers, though without some of the context that might help some of the traditionally disengaged to truly participate


June 6
Integrating Migrants into the Labour Force

·      Less focus here on how to integrate migrants than on how to attract the “right kind” of migrants

·      A bit disappointing, and perhaps a downside of the corporate presence and focus in parts of the Forum


June 6
A Fair Share – Universal Basic Income (UBI) et al

·      Here we got a real taste of what it meant to bring in divergent perspectives: a panellist (a socialist academic and proponent of UBI) who claims he never would have been invited to the Forum if populism hadn’t swept the globe

·      Expected a fiery debate, but it turned out pretty much everyone on the panel felt UBI would be useful in some form or another


June 6
Educating for Civic Innovation

·      Case study presentation from Sciences Po showcasing their tools for collecting the views of youth and getting students involved in French elections

·      Good to see institutions accepting that voter turnout is a product of more forces than individual choice


June 6
Empowering Indigenous Women

·      The panel here was properly interdisciplinary

·      People from the worlds of business, the arts, and government talking about finding tools for indigenous women to speak for themselves


June 6
Idea Factory: Me Myself and AI

·      This was a real chance to engage

·      Three hours locked in a room with a small number of people from all walks of expertise, culminating in a long philosophical exercise discussing how to build and manage trust with computers that think for themselves


June 7
Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

·      Talked about Canada’s role at OECD and experiences that aided her most in her career thus far


June 7
MCM Keynote

·      Heard from Secretary General Angel Gurría and Prime Minister Rasmussen of Denmark about overall goals of Ministerial Council Meeting


June 7
Inclusive Entrepreneurship

·      Heard from entrepreneurs working on building products and services for the under-served

·      Focus on impact funds/incubators/accelerators


June 7
Anthony Zacharzewski

·      Talked about Democratic Society, a participatory democracy think tank with offices in Brussels and the UK

·      Intersection of government and civil society


June 7
Behavioural Economics and Nudging: Fast and Slow

·      Very interesting presentation (university-style) on how people make decisions and how the use of “nudging” people can bring about changes intended by policy


June 7
Inequality, Digitalisation & Competition

·      Amazing discussion on digitization of the economy and how to regulate this new economy

·      Discussion around who owns data and how to bring research to market (Denmark as an example)


June 7
Responsible Business Conduct

·      Interactive session with Finnish Finance Minister and Dutch Development and Trade Minister and on building good business practices (environmental/social) into policy


June 7
Holly Richards

·      Member of the OECD Global Parliamentary Network

·      Discussed internal politics of the OECD and the Better Life Index


June 7
Cashless Society and Fintech

·      Looking at Kenya/China for examples of post-cash transactions

·      Discussing whether cash will one day disappear and also debated the trustworthiness of banks/cards


June 7
Coding the Law

·      Session covered new technologies from smart data collection software for the agricultural industry to online readers that detect changes made to legal text


June 7
Citizen Led Approach to Radical Innovation

·      Mara Balestrini presented Making Sense - a civic technology empowering citizens through personal digital manufacturing, co-designing and deploying environmental sensors


June 7
Stocktaking on Globalization

·      Learned that important political winds against finance are due to globalization’s failure to deal with inequality

·      This complexity remains a real challenge for us as policy-makers


June 7
Online Engagement for Offline Empowerment

·      A great exchange between tech entrepreneurs, politicians, and OECD officials that gave us some ideas about how tools from the Forum’s Civic Tech Hub might look if put into practice


June 7
Ageing Readiness and Competitiveness

·      Panellists from Foreign Policy presented a study about age-friendly policies around the world

·      High marks for Nova Scotia’s emphasis on connecting rural adults with urban communities


June 7
Trade and Social Protection

·      The panel at this event seemed to appreciate that the public no longer approves of trade at face value, but their line of thinking (people want social protection, but they don’t want to pay for it) didn’t leave much room for accommodating public concern


June 7
Empowering Public Servants

·      Fascinating case studies of cooperation between public servants and tech start-ups, mostly bundled under the theme of accessibility

·      Not much information on how to make these collaborations happen


June 7
Better Life Index

·      Discussed the better life index initiative of the OECD

·      It uses social/civic tech to combine old and new messages of public engagement to determine what is important to society today


June 7
Forum Closing Session

·      Talked about future of policy and the pace of change with globalization and digitization


June 8
Liberté Tech Lab

·      Met with incubator with focus on civic-tech and gov-tech

·      Big focus on intergenerational, inclusive and social impact entrepreneurship


June 8
City of Paris

·      Presentation on participatory budgeting and differences in the various districts of Paris and how they work together along with the mayor, Anne Hidalgo

·      Discussed overall budget and initiatives like bicycle ballot boxes and citizen kiosks


June 8
Sylvain Giguère, Head of OECD Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED)

·      Canadian working at OECD and discussed push for congruency with taxes across OECD countries and the emphasis on value and jobs


June 8
Rolf Alter, OECD Director for Public Governance

·      Amazing interactive discussion going over our personal careers and advice on the “big picture” of the OECD and thought-provoking questions for each of us

·      Definitely one of the best meetings of our trip


June 9

·      Met with Frederick (Russ) Russell-Rivoallan, a Canadian working for the Executive Board who gave us the background of UNESCO from his perspective and toured around the building

·      Also met with experts on internet freedom and human rights


June 9
World Bank

·      Met with Jakob Kopperud who works at the intersection of the World Bank and OECD and has expertise stretching all around the world

·      Great discussion on policy and interconnectedness of these international organizations


June 9
French Foreign Ministry

·      Met with North America and Canada/Quebec department heads

·      Discussed Canada-French cooperation with security, trade, culture and the success of CETA and its Quebec-French origins