The Estonian president, Kersti Kaljulaid. Photo from the president's Facebook page.

Estonia proposes president Kaljulaid as the next Secretary General of the OECD

Estonia has proposed the country’s current president, Kersti Kaljulaid, as the Estonian candidate for the position of the Secretary General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

On 1 October, the Estonian ambassador to the OECD, Clyde Kull, handed over the president’s candidacy documents. She will give an overview of her positions and vision at a virtual event on 5 October.

“In 2020, we are living the period of great transition. Transition from industrial to digital economy and from fossil to clean energy. As a firm believer in multilateralism, I see OECD as an enabler for its global community of developed nations taking an active role in bringing together the best knowledge globally to help the governments cope with these changes,” Kaljulaid said.

The Estonian president, Kersti Kaljulaid, working on the World Cleanup Day 2020. Photo from the president's Facebook page.
The Estonian president, Kersti Kaljulaid, working on the World Cleanup Day 2020. Photo from the president’s Facebook page.

She added that Estonia regained its independence in 1991 and in the last 30 years has gone through comprehensive, rapid and successful reforms, has built the “first truly digital society” and developed “one of the best education systems in the world” according to OECD. “These are the experiences I want to bring to the OECD in order to be prepared for the challenges we will face in the next decades,” Kaljulaid said.

Talking about the challenges she would focus on as the next Secretary General of the OECD, Kaljulaid stressed the need to inspire the member states to consider the potential of digital transformation in achieving our obvious common goals: sustaining democracy, developing economy and also saving our planet.

Digital ID a backbone of a successful digital transformation

“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, considering the need of serving globally our globally working citizens,” she asserted.

Kaljulaid also emphasised the importance of a state-provided digital identity as the backbone of a successful digital transformation, saying that the digital ID needs to be as common and enjoy as strong legal protection to counter falsifications as do our paper passports.

The Estonian president, Kersti Kaljulaid. Photo from the president's Facebook page.
The Estonian president, Kersti Kaljulaid. Photo from the president’s Facebook page.

“The OECD continues to be one of the most important international organisations for ensuring sustainable development, particularly now, where the OECD is providing in-depth analyses and the advice how to cope with the economic consequences of COVID-19 crisis,” ambassador Kull noted.

“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,” he said.

A firm believer in multilateralism

Kaljulaid is the fifth president of the Republic of Estonia. As a firm believer in multilateralism, she has spectacular experience in the fields of economy and energy as well as in public sector, European institutions and international level, the Estonian foreign ministry said.

Before becoming Estonia’s head of state, she was a member of the European Court of Auditors. Previously she had been the director of the Iru Power Plant, a subsidiary of the state-owned energy company Eesti Energia – being the first woman to lead a power plant in Estonia – and an economic adviser to prime minister Mart Laar.

Kersti Kaljulaid meeting the US president, Donald Trump, in 2018. Photo by the Estonian foreign ministry

Kaljulaid is also a member of World Bank’s Advisory Panel for the World Development Report 2021 and member of the European Council on Foreign Relations Council. She is fluent in English and French and also speaks German, Finnish and Russian.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development brings together democratic countries with open economy and respect for human rights. Estonia joined the OECD in 2010. The headquarters of the organisation are in Paris. OECD member states cooperate closely, sharing experiences and searching for answers for common problems.

Cover: The Estonian president, Kersti Kaljulaid. Photo from the president’s Facebook page.

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