H.M. Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, in her capacity as the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA), today presented her 2022 Annual Report to UN Secretary-General António Guterres during the 77th UN General Assembly in New York.
The report, written under the theme “Equitable, Inclusive and Sustainable Growth”, highlights the UNSGSA’s strategic work over the previous 12 months, including in the context of the recently released World Bank Global Findex Database. To download the full 2022 Annual Report, please click here.
Key activities and initiatives highlighted include country visits to Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal, along with numerous in-person and virtual engagements, bilateral meetings, and speeches. All these activities contributed to the UNSGSA’s mission to champion universal access and usage of safe, affordable, and effective financial services—particularly for the poor, women, smallholder farmers and micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).
The role of financial inclusion to help deliver positive development outcomes has been heightened recently as people worldwide continue to deal with a mix of crises. These include persisting social and economic impacts from the pandemic, deepening poverty, escalating climate shocks, widening gender inequalities, worsening conflicts, and more.
As the report details, the Special Advocate continued to reinforce the significance of inclusive finance to help everyone access the financial tools necessary to improve financial health—becoming more resilient and building better lives.
“Financial inclusion has moved from the fringe to the mainstream … with account ownership leaping from 51% in 2011 to now reaching 76% of adults globally, according to the new World Bank Global Findex,” wrote the UNSGSA in her Annual Report message (see pg. 2). “We need to cement the financial inclusion gains we have made so far, as well as reach those still left on the outside looking in. It remains crucial in this endeavor to be deliberate about concentrating on how access to financial services can help strengthen the resilience of people and contribute to their financial health.”
The report also features the UNSGSA’s increased focus on digital inclusive finance in Africa, particularly for women, and to seize new opportunities from going digital.
“As digital adoption grows, it is imperative to ensure that these products and services are designed to engender fair and equal access to the digital economy—one that provides opportunities for all,” wrote the UNSGSA. “This means the foundational rails must be in place. These are the necessary digital public goods that unlock digital access by expanding connectivity and agent networks into new areas.”
Additionally, across her advocacy, Queen Máxima stressed that success would also help contribute to attaining numerous Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the 2030 target date.
Around UNGA: Meetings and Events
While at the UN General Assembly, the UNSGSA also held bilateral meetings on inclusive finance with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tanzania Liberata Mulamula; His Highness Muhammad Sanusi II, the 14th Emir of Kano in Nigeria; and Co-Develop CEO C.V. Madhukar.
She also convened her Reference Group of financial inclusion advisors. The meeting was the first in-person convening for the group since the start of the pandemic. This group is comprised of leading international organizations in financial inclusion, which share expertise and suggest strategic opportunities that Queen Máxima can help advance through advocacy and partnerships.
UNSGSA Queen Máxima was also a keynote speaker at the "The Future of Digital Cooperation: Building resilience through safe, trusted, and inclusive digital public infrastructure" UNGA side-event, which was co-hosted by members of the Digital Public Goods Alliance (Estonia, Germany, Norway, Sierra Leone, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF, and UNDP) together with Smart Africa and the World Bank.
Finally, the Special Advocate participated in a fireside chat with PayPal President Dan Schulman at the invite-only “5th Annual Leaders on Purpose CEO Summit”.