Chee Soo Yuen, AFI Chief Operations Officer

4 March 2024

CEMCWG & IGFWG Meetings – Opening Remarks by Chee Soo Yuen, AFI Chief Operations Officer

It is my great pleasure to welcome you all to the 10th Inclusive Green Finance and 27th Consumer Empowerment and Market Conduct Working Group Meetings and heartfelt appreciation to Governor Ariff Ali and the team from the Reserve Bank of Fiji (RBF) for co-hosting the joint working group meetings. Fiji is known for its stunning natural beauty, including pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, lush rainforests, and vibrant coral reefs. It is known for being a paradise destination that offers a perfect mix of relaxation, adventure, and cultural experiences.

The RBF currently chairs the AFI Board of Directors and is one of the pioneering members of the Alliance. It has been a frontrunner in promoting inclusive green finance and consumer protection not just in the region but in the network and beyond as well. As one of the countries that are highly vulnerable to nature-related disasters, AFI members have been learning a lot from the RBF’s experience and policy initiatives in preparing and coping with the impacts of climate adversity. Its groundbreaking integration of green elements to understand vulnerabilities and coping mechanisms through the demand-side survey is something members continue to look up to. Within the AFI WG leadership, RBF has been part of the CEMC Working Group Leadership team since 2020 and chairs the Working Group since 2022. The institution has been central in the consumer protection deliverables and experience sharing around market conduct, consumer empowerment and national financial literacy best practices in Fiji.

For this joint working group meeting, we have 100 registered participants across the AFI network representing 61 member institutions from 50 countries, and with 50% female participation.

Inclusive green finance and consumer protection are two distinct thematic areas that may initially sound distant, but we do see rapid policy developments to address climate-related risks and greening financial systems which may also affect how normal market conduct should be done. Additionally, integrating climate change and resilience building in financial education is also a developing area.  

At this juncture, I am delighted to share on the collaboration and partnership between AFD and AFI on advancing inclusive green finance across the AFI network. This collaboration underscores our commitment to advancing inclusive green finance, a crucial aspect of our journey towards a more sustainable and equitable future.

By joining forces, AFD and AFI are poised to leverage their expertise and resources to drive positive change, particularly in regions like the Pacific, where the impacts of climate change are deeply felt. Together, we will work towards developing innovative financial solutions that empower communities, protect the environment, and promote economic resilience.

AFI recognizes how access to finance can drive climate resilience and climate change mitigation amongst disadvantaged populations including women and MSMEs. The element of inclusivity also remains essential in consumer protection policy developments among AFI members. We acknowledge the body of knowledge provided and generated by you, the IGF and CEMC Working Group members that guided financial inclusion policymaking for all the members in the network.

The IGF Working Group has produced 14 Knowledge Products and introduced innovative initiatives such as the Regional Coffee Chats, which offer valuable insights into ongoing IGF policy initiatives and policy priorities at both national and regional levels. AFI has also elevated its participation in the climate change discourse to the UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP) since 2022.

For more than 10 years, the CEMC Working Group has been active in producing high quality knowledge products, 30 in total, in both financial education and market conduct supervision. To build on the existing knowledge tools, members have been equally engaged in brainstorming and developing dissemination and implementation activities to transform consumer protection knowledge into practical and impactful solutions for the network.

Beyond working groups, the update of three of our flagship Network commitments, the Denarau Action Plan, the Sharm El-Sheikh Climate Change Accord, and the Sochi Accord on Inclusive Fintech during the 2022 GPF in Jordan brings to our attention the emphasis on the need to keep our policy focus on gender, inclusive green finance, financial innovation, and targeting vulnerable groups including youth and forcibly displaced persons.

Further, we are excited to announce the upcoming 2024 Global Policy Forum which we will be hosting together with the Banco Central de Reserva de El Salvador. This year’s theme will focus on “Innovation for an Inclusive World” in recognition of the significant role of innovation in scaling financial inclusion. As usual, there will be exciting discussions around this theme in plenaries and breakout sessions.

The AFI network has gone a long way and it’s all thanks to you members for your commitment and support. As we continue to make financial systems inclusive for a sustainable future for all, more commitment and support are needed from everyone. The world is changing but AFI strives to remain agile and adjust accordingly and timely in response to these changes.

I urge everyone to leverage this meeting to your utmost benefit and invite you to share your thoughts and reflections to optimize the working group platform. I would like to end by thanking you the working group members for your participation and thanking the organising team from the Reserve Bank of Fiji and my AFI colleagues for organising this meeting.

Please spare some time to appreciate and feel the breathtaking beauty of this paradise.  

Wishing you a week full of fruitful deliberations.

“Vinaka vakalevu”- which is thank you very much in the Fijian language!

© Alliance for Financial Inclusion 2009-2024