Global economic leaders highlight importance of national FI strategies, Maya Declaration

2014-07-01

The emergence of Mexico as an important worldwide leader in financial inclusion—along with recognition of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion’s (AFI) Maya Declaration as a key driver to enhance financial inclusion—was evident last week as Mexico hosted the International Forum for Financial Inclusion at the National Palace in its capital on 26 June 2014.

President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, delivered the opening speech, in which he acknowledged the importance of financial inclusion, saying: “The challenge of financial inclusion is a challenge relevant for all developing economies, and includes economies that already consider themselves developed. But in the case of Mexico it is perhaps an even greater challenge.” At the same time, he indicated his government’s commitment towards the continued support of financial inclusion as a key to healthy economic development.

The meeting also convened numerous domestic and international high-level participants, such as International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde, Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público (SHCP) Finance Minister Luis Videgaray Caso, Comisión Nacional Bancaria y de Valores (CNBV) President Jaime González Aguadé, Bank of Mexico (Banxico) Governor Agustín Carstens, Hacienda y Crédito Público de la República of Colombia Finance Minister Mauricio Cárdenas, Superintendent of SBS Peru Daniel Schydlowsky, Banco Central do Brasil (BCB) Deputy Governor Luiz Edson Feltrim, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Executive Vice President Julie T. Katzman, and AFI Executive Director Alfred Hannig.

Mexico’s role in the advancement of successful financial inclusion policies, which includes the efforts of AFI member institutions SHCP and CNBV, and the importance of the Maya Declaration first announced at the 2011 Global Policy Forum (GPF) in Riviera Maya, Mexico, were recognized by Mme. Lagarde: “During its presidency of the G-20 in 2012, financial inclusion was a key pillar of Mexico’s agenda. It was also in Mexico that the Maya Declaration was agreed—a set of global and measurable commitments to unlock human potential through access to financial services.” As the Guest of Honor, Mme. Lagarde expressed a belief that one of the most notable economic stories of our generation is the reduction of poverty around the globe and that access to basic financial services such as payments, savings and insurance holds out the potential to generate huge benefits. “Financial inclusion can be a powerful agent for strong and inclusive growth … with improved financial access, families can smooth out consumption and increase investment, including in education and health. They can also insure against unfavorable events—and therefore avoid falling deeper into poverty, which is often the case with such incidents.”

The conference signaled the next step for a Mexican government that has become a frontrunner in advancing and sharing financial inclusion knowledge and practices around the world. From ensuring the issue as a central focus for G-20 meetings, the birth of the world’s first ever global commitments to financial inclusion in the Maya Declaration, as well as engaging standard setting bodies (SSBs), to supporting the establishment of the first international organization on financial inclusion, Mexico has demonstrated regional and global leadership. The global relevance of financial inclusion was underscored by Superintendent Schydlowsky, who noted by referring to recent data from the developed world that financial inclusion is far from just being a developing country phenomenon.

On the “National Financial Inclusion Strategies” panel, it was noted that there is not one unique strategy for all countries, but rather each individual nation must find and adopt its own approach based on solid evidence and realities, and must incorporate the lessons learned from the experiences of other nations. Representing the AFI Network as a panelist, Dr. Hannig noted that financial inclusion brings a new model of international cooperation based on the power of knowledge sharing and peer learning championed by the AFI Network where former patterns such as the distinction between North and South are no longer applicable. “In the world of financial inclusion everyone can learn from everyone, no matter whether you are a rich or a poor, or a small or a big country,” he said. “The speech of Mme. Lagarde demonstrates how financial inclusion has entered the mainstream thinking on economic development. Such a speech would not have been possible five years ago.”