RAI breaks down latest OECD report on regional development policy-making

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recently published a report, Rethinking Regional Development Policy-making, which takes stock of discussions held between academics and country practitioners during a series of seminars organised in 2017 that focused on opportunities to improve the design and delivery of regional development policies. 

The report seeks to answer questions on what governments can do to enhance economic development in regions and cities, and what lessons can be drawn from theory and practice to ensure public spending and investments contribute to regional development as effectively as possible.

The Regional Australia Institute (RAI) broke down some of the OECD’s broader thinking on collaborative regional policymaking and the ways it can inform regional development in Australia.

“In its regional policy release, the OECD identified nine lessons for more successful regional development policy. This is a great start, but these broad lessons are not specific enough for locals to implement, nor have they been tested in the Australian environment,” RAI said.

“In Australia, collaborative arrangements between locals and government are growing – see City Deals (federal) or Accelerating Growth Loans (NSW). How best to design and deliver these new types of development policy is still under question.

The RAI will use its new Inquiry Program to road-test these lessons and identify some Australian specific examples and successes.”

With regards to the availability of policy tools, RAI said that we all have our own ways of grouping the tools that deliver the policy on the ground.

“The latest OECD report uses three categories (contracts, financial instruments and grants). These categories provide a useful mechanism for aligning existing and future policy tools to the new collaborative regional development approach,” RAI said.

“To foster successful collaboration in Australia’s regional policy environment, we need to learn from what is already going on – both within and beyond our national borders.

“New ways of doing things always require a bit of ‘learning on the job’. Some honest reflections on the successes and failures of a new policy approach is essential. So is a rethinking of what ‘success’ actually looks like, particularly with multiple players involved in design and delivery.”

Read more from the RAI on its website.