Finance ministers have to be green in today's world, says OECD head

(The Guardian, 17 Feb 2021) Ángel Gurría reflects on time at helm as new generation leads institutions with power to influence governments

“Finance ministers have not always been green,” said Ángel Gurría, the outgoing secretary general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, reflecting on his 15 years in charge of the club of wealthier nations. “But today, if you are not green, it probably means you died and no one told you.”

The OECD occupies a powerful position, advising countries on economic policy and judging them on their performance, judgments that can sway investors and affect a country’s economy. Gurría said when he took office in 2006 that environment ministers tended to be left out of important decision-making by their governments, while the finance ministers who ruled the roost spurned green concerns. “Fifteen years ago, any meeting of environment ministers was like group therapy. They used to feel so lonely, they would tell each other stories so they would not feel so much alone.”

Today, international institutions that have the power to influence finance ministers are increasingly talking about climate change and other environmental crises – hence the need for them to change tack. “Finance ministers are saying the right things now, and most are putting their money where their mouth is,” said Gurría. “[The climate] is no longer just a question for environment ministers – the leaders of the world have taken this up now.”

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The Guardian, 17 Feb 2021: Finance ministers have to be green in today's world, says OECD head