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Bringing International Urban Policy Ideas to the United States through the OECD

Message From PD&R Senior Leadership
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Bringing International Urban Policy Ideas to the United States through the OECD

Kurt Usowski.
Kurt Usowski, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs in HUD's Office of PD&R.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an outgrowth of the Marshall Plan for the reconstruction of Europe after World War II. Since its founding in 1961, OECD has sought to deliver greater well-being worldwide by advising governments on policies that support resilient, inclusive, and sustainable growth. Through evidence-based policy analysis and recommendations, standards, and global policy networks, including close collaboration with the G7 and G20, OECD has advanced reforms and multilateral solutions to global challenges. OECD conducts research and policy development in nearly all areas of interest to its 38 member countries, including the United States.

Government experts from member countries serve on numerous committees centered on specific policy areas. These committees function as boards of directors to select research and policy analysis proposals from OECD staff (known as the Secretariat), edit and make suggestions to draft reports, and approve final reports and recommendations. HUD participates in OECD’s Regional Development Policy Committee (RDPC) and its Working Party on Urban Policy (WPURB). RDPC addresses economic and environmental policies for urban areas, rural areas, and larger regions, with a strong emphasis on measuring socioeconomic conditions and policy outcomes. WPURB focuses on the urban policy aspects of RDPC’s work. HUD also has been involved in housing-related work that other OECD committees have sponsored, such as the cross-cutting Horizontal Project on Housing, as well as in coordinating data submissions for the biennial Questionnaire on Affordable and Social Housing, which supplies data for the OECD Affordable Housing Database.

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs Kurt Usowski, with the able assistance of Aaron Weaver of the International and Philanthropic Affairs Division, has had the privilege of representing the United States on RDPC and WPURB since 2019 and has been a vice-chair of the WPURB since 2022. Usowski and Weaver attended the most recent semiannual RDPC Week at the end of April 2023 at OECD headquarters in Paris. The meetings covered an array of topics including:

Kurt Usowski (left) and Aaron Weaver (right) stand in front of a wall of different country flags.Kurt Usowski and Aaron Weaver in front of the OECD member country flags in the Chateau de la Muette at OECD headquarters, Paris.

And all that was on the first day! Other notable topics for the week included increasing regional attractiveness in the new global environment; the challenges of regions in industrial transition; promoting trust in government and democracy through local approaches; an overview of the aftermath of the recent earthquakes in the Republic of Türkiye, including a discussion of disaster recovery policies among delegates; and policies to help small businesses grow without moving out of their region of origin.

Usowski and Weaver also met with Secretariat staff to discuss ongoing projects for which HUD is contributing data (for example, a long-term comparative study on how OECD member countries measure homelessness and what policies they are implementing to reduce and prevent homelessness), pointing OECD staff to U.S. data resources and potential U.S. participants in OECD studies. Usowski and Weaver also met with individual delegates from other OECD countries to discuss cooperative efforts, including the upcoming G7 Sustainable Urban Development Ministers’ Meeting, as well as bilateral delegation visits to learn about alternative approaches to development policies.

RDPC Week was a fascinating examination of urban and regional development policy from a global perspective. Through articles like this and other means, HUD hopes to raise awareness among state and local policymakers most responsible for local and regional economic development in the U.S. about the resources and ideas OECD can offer to help them implement “better policies for better lives.”

Published Date: 13 June 2023

The contents of this article are the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or the U.S. Government.