Leaving Nadi: What Do We Take Away?

Reserve Bank of Fiji Governor Barry Whiteside engages in a Fijian cultural ritual during the Opening Ceremony of the 2016 Global Policy Forum on 8 September 2016 in Nadi, Fiji.
Reserve Bank of Fiji Governor Barry Whiteside engages in a Fijian cultural ritual during the Opening Ceremony of the 2016 Global Policy Forum on 8 September 2016 in Nadi, Fiji.

Leaving Nadi: What Do We Take Away?

2016-09-20
By Alfred Hannig

The Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) 2016 Global Policy Forum (GPF) is now in the history books, but the impressions are still fresh. Many of us left the Pacific thinking that the 2016 GPF was one of the best Forums we ever had, particularly in terms of organization, content and exposure to the local culture. With an all-time high of more than 500 participants, the Forum also witnessed an expression of commitments to the ideals of the Alliance by members, funders and partners.

This great event would not have been possible without the special leadership and extraordinary commitment shown by the Reserve Bank of Fiji (RBF), the creativity of the co-host, the way other members from the Pacific region were engaged in the Forum, the enormous resources RBF devoted, and last but not least Governor Barry Whiteside’s personal engagement during the days of the Forum. These factors all together made a big difference.

Under such excellent conditions the 2016 GPF produced impressive results including, among others, a good number of first-time and renewed commitments under the Maya Declaration, the launch of AFI’s position paper on de-risking, the decision to include green finance and financial inclusion into the network’s work streams, the launch of the AFI Data Portal (ADP) as well as the introduction of our new website, the advancement of AFI’s Public-Private Dialogue (PPD) Platform with a focus on digital financial services (DFS) and innovation, the approval of amendments to the Articles of Association to further strengthen AFI as the first independent organization that is leading policy reforms aimed at enhancing access to quality financial services, and the signing of the MoU between AFI and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

I believe that the outstanding deliverable from the 2016 Global Policy Forum, however, was the endorsement of the Denarau Action Plan: The AFI Network Commitment to Gender and Women’s Financial Inclusion. The Action Plan, which found an overwhelming endorsement by AFI members (96% of AFI members present at the Forum adopted the Plan), aims to promote the development of smart policies and regulations to create an enabling environment that accelerates women’s financial inclusion. This 10-point Action Plan will be overseen by the newly formed AFI Gender and Women’s Financial Inclusion Committee (GWFIC) comprising leaders from seven member institutions, with its implementation guided by Dr. Tukiya Kankasa-Mabula, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Zambia (BOZ). The Committee will work with key partners and gender focal points from each of the AFI Working Groups. It has identified key drivers to increase women’s financial inclusion and set ambitious targets for the whole network. As a matter of fact, several AFI members already announced Maya Commitments on women’s financial inclusion on the last day of the Forum.

I believe that the Denarau Action Plan is a monumental effort which has no precedent. For the first time in history policymakers and regulators from developing and emerging countries make a concrete and very timely commitment to narrow down the remaining gender gap in global financial inclusion. The Plan presents unique opportunities for members and partners to engage and collaborate in a highly effective way. It creates a platform that is truly inclusive—one through which AFI’s existing partnerships can be further strengthened and where additional opportunities for innovative cooperation with a diverse cadre of partners abound. A successful implementation holds the promise to unfold the huge potential of women in driving sustainable growth and eradicate poverty through enhanced financial inclusion. And I am convinced that by meeting our own high expectations the Plan will trigger more buy-in and substantive support from public and private stakeholders from all over the world.

In conclusion, with the endorsement of the Denarau Action Plan, the Alliance has taken responsibility to solve one of the key mega challenges of this world in a unique way—ensuring equal economic opportunities for all women. I am looking forward to seeing the tangible results of this effort, and I would like to encourage all of us to stand together to make the vision of the Plan a reality.

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