H.M. Queen Máxima of the Netherlands has released her 2021 Annual Report in her capacity as the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA). The Special Advocate presented the new report today to Secretary-General António Guterres in a meeting during the 76th United Nations General Assembly in New York.
The report highlights how financial inclusion is more important than ever as societies continue to deal with the social and economic impacts caused by the COVID-19 crisis. It details many of the key activities and initiatives of the Special Advocate over the last year to continue to advance and reinforce the role of inclusive finance as an imperative and key enabler in building a more resilient future.
This includes numerous (virtual) country visits and engagements, bilateral meetings, speeches and participation in important events, with a heightened focus on advocacy for financial inclusion in Africa, especially for women.
A key theme emphasized throughout the report is the potential of digital financial inclusion to quickly expand access and usage of quality, convenient and affordable financial services to underserved groups, including the poor, women, smallholders and micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). This is particularly important in the context of COVID-19 as these segments are often more vulnerable to the pandemic’s fallout.
“Many people are in peril. They lack sufficient savings to safeguard them in a time of extended unemployment. They lack access to adequate credit and investments to keep their businesses afloat and solvent—or to expand them. They lack insurance to protect them against costly medical bills if a family member falls ill. And they lack the opportunity to build financial health and resilience to improve their lives,” wrote Queen Máxima in the report’s UNSGSA Message.
“But we are also seeing some hopeful news,” she added. “COVID-19 recovery efforts have resulted in broad recognition for the importance of financial inclusion and digitization. Therefore, it is crucial to build upon this momentum and press forward to erect economies and societies that are genuinely inclusive.”
The publication also details the UNSGSA’s heightened concentration on promoting quality financial services and products to ensure positive outcomes for customers. Throughout the year, Queen Máxima sought to ensure that inclusion leads to improved financial health, better lives for all and sustainable economic development.
Further, across her work, she reinforced that financial inclusion is not a standalone issue, but closely linked with other issues, including gender equality and climate change, and contributes to achieving a range of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
To download the full 2021 Annual Report, please click here.