By Bernadette Victorio

Five for Five: Five things we have learned in five years of the Maya Declaration

In celebration of the Maya Declaration’s 5th year anniversary, here are five lessons we take away from the first global commitment platform for financial inclusion:

1. Ownership is the foundation of every strong commitment

All commitments, big or small, are underpinned by ownership—without ownership, commitments are merely imposed obligations. AFI members are fully cognizant that taking ownership of their unique national circumstances is critical first step to reaching the optimal solutions to their financial inclusion challenges. Committing to take action is a natural step forward. By making public commitments, AFI members take full responsibility for their countries’ financial inclusion journey and open themselves to accountability and scrutiny. This is what sets the Maya Declaration commitments apart—they are built on the solid foundation of ownership and are carefully balanced with responsibility. In the years to come, self-determination will continue to be enshrined at the heart of the Maya Declaration as AFI continues to champion the bottom-up approach to financial inclusion.

2. Smart commitments are not stand-alone targets

Smart commitments are by-products of extensive national introspection and consultations, and are therefore cohesive and coordinated. Wherever an institution is on its financial inclusion journey, it is necessary to ensure that they are aligned with their national development objectives as well as their stakeholders when formulating commitments to the Maya Declaration. It was in this spirit that the AFI network inaugurated the Sasana Accord—to ensure that their financial inclusion commitments are measurable, and more importantly, to ensure that they are integrated into national policies and programs that lead to the improvement of the lives of the unserved and the underserved population. Smart financial inclusion commitments complement and elaborate on national development goals, providing breadth and depth to poverty alleviation initiatives and efforts to redress inequality.
3. Public commitments optimize opportunities for collaboration

Financial inclusion is a complex issue, and no single country or institution has all the solution. In the last five years, the Maya Declaration has proven to be an effective platform for mobilizing support for AFI members’ commitments simply by making them publicly available. This approach is not only an important step forward in promoting transparency, but also an excellent way for partners to get clarity on their roles in supporting the implementation of the commitments at a country-level. Moreover, the culture of openness fostered by the Maya Declaration is fully aligned and underpinned by AFI’s peer learning and knowledge sharing philosophy. Through AFI’s Public-Private Dialogue (PPD), members can easily connect and engage with partners that offer the best comparative advantage in the areas relevant to their commitments.
4. Positive peer pressure does work

AFI members play an important role in positively pressuring each other to make tangible progress on their commitments. Over the years, AFI’s regional initiatives have been unique platforms for peer-to-peer follow up on commitments and progress, and are full of excellent examples from Sub-Saharan Africa to the Pacific Islands. Endorsements and references by key international development institutions have also provided much-needed public visibility to ensure that AFI members are held accountable for their financial inclusion commitments. Through the AFI Data Portal (ADP) all AFI member commitments are now publicly viewable to ensure greater accountability. The ADP is a fully member-driven database of commitments and progress, adding an innovative twist to peer pressure.    
5. Real commitments are not one-off

The Maya Declaration is a living commitment. It evolves with the changing global landscape and renews itself to remain relevant, innovative, and fresh. In 2011, The Maya Declaration had four policy pillars; digital financial services, financial integrity, consumer protection, and financial inclusion data. In 2015 AFI members added SME finance as priority with the inauguration of the Maputo Accord, and this year we launched the call for action on financial inclusion for women with the Denarau Action Plan. In the same way, the Maya commitments are also evolving. As members’ commitments progress, they are constantly refined and renewed with new objectives, each more ambitious than the one before. Milestones may be reached and celebrated, but AFI members’ work in financial inclusion continue. 


Bernadette Victorio is the Maya Declaration and Global Policy Forum Manager at the Alliance for Financial Inclusion.