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Global Forum on Remittances, Investment and Development

Statement by Alvaro Lario, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

Location: Nairobi, Kenya

14 June 2023

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Distinguished guests, ladies and gentleman,

The last UN General Assembly made a global call to rescue the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It called on us to get back on track to building a better world that leaves no one behind.

Certainly, migrant workers don´t leave their families behind. Each of the more than one billion national and international migrants in the world today has a story to tell. And the majority share something in common: they provide remittances to their families back home.

They leave home so their families do not have to. So that they can stay in their hometowns and villages, and invest in a brighter future there for their children.

Remittances help families and communities in a variety of ways. They help people improve their health and nutrition, and keep their children in school. In some cases, remittances are used to improve housing and sanitation. And they enable people to acquire assets, start businesses and strengthen their livelihoods, hence contributing to improved livelihoods and stronger resilience.

In other words, remittance are directly relevant to many of the SDGs.

In 2022, $647 billion dollars were registered in formal remittances flows to low and middle-income countries. This figure represents more than three times Official Development Assistance. Remittance flows are more than Foreign Direct Investment in almost every developing country.

Half of these flows go to rural areas, where poverty and hunger are concentrated, and where remittances make the most difference to people’s lives.

Therefore, a key development challenge is maximize the impact of the projected US$5 trillion in remittances to be received by families living in developing countries between now and 2030.

IFAD has extensive experience in working to maximize the impact of remittances. Our mission is to invest in rural people, and that is why we believe that the scale and scope of remittances are so important. It is in rural areas that remittances can help make migration more of a choice than a necessity for future generations.

Over the past 17 years, IFAD has co-funded over 70 projects in more than 50 countries focusing on providing opportunities for remittance-receivers and their communities -- benefitting at least 2 million people.

Based on our experience, we know that, given better opportunities to save, remittance families will save more. We know that, given appropriate investment options, customized to their circumstances and goals, they will invest more. And we know that, if we give them opportunities to invest in education, healthcare, and climate adaptation, remittance recipients will live better lives.

Many of our efforts have been focused on Africa. We have started the PRIME Africa Initiative together with by the European Commission the governments of Luxemburg, Spain and Sweden. PRIME Africa is being implemented in 7 countries: Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa, The Gambia and Uganda.

The Initiative is advancing digital options for sending remittances to even the most remote rural areas. It is promoting formal channels to reduce costs and extend reach. And, it is leveling the playing field through enhanced regulatory frameworks to enable competition in remittance markets. These are all essential aspects of promoting the transformative role of remittances in rural communities – and we look forward to discussing them in more detail during this Summit.

On 16 June, with the occasion of the United Nation’s International Day of Family Remittances, we will recognize the contribution of over 200 million migrants -- half of them being women -- who improve the lives of their family members, entire communities and countries through their remittances. The Day calls upon governments, private sector entities, as well as the civil society, to work together to maximize the impact of remittances.

By taking action to help remittance families reach their own individual development goals, we will be directly engaging ONE BILLION PEOPLE in rescuing the SDGs by 2030: ONE FAMILY AT A TIME.

I wish you fruitful discussions during the three days of this Summit as we look ahead on our road to the 2030 milestone.

Thank you.