People all over the world—governments, businesses large and small, families, and individuals—have rallied behind the inspiring vision expressed in the Sustainable Development Goals. UNCDF is working to ensure that the unique role remittances can play in achieving that vision is widely understood, and that there is broad support for the work necessary for remittances’ full potential to be achieved.
The COVID-19 pandemic made the importance of remittances much more visible. As the world went into lockdown virtually overnight, migrants everywhere saw their income disappear or drastically reduced, and their families back home, often in countries with limited social safety net protections, were severely affected by the loss of remittances. Women migrants especially are hit hard.
In response, UNCDF collaborated with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to support a Member State-led initiative calling on policymakers, regulators and remittance service providers (RSPs) to improve migrants’ access to sending and receiving remittances, and to reduce transfer costs during the ongoing pandemic. Spearheaded by the Governments of Switzerland and the United Kingdom, the Call to Action – Remittances in Crisis – How to Keep Them Flowing issued on 22 May 2020 – is also supported by the World Bank, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the International Association of Money Transfer Networks (IAMTN) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). Since it was announced, member states receiving high-volume of remittances across regions have joined the Call. The goal is to remove the obstacles that migrants and their families face when sending and receiving money so that they can continue to cover the basic needs and services it pays for, such as food, housing, education and health care.
As part of efforts by the United Nations on financing towards the Sustainable Development Goals, a High-Level Event on “Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond” was co-hosted by the Prime Ministers of Canada and Jamaica with the United Nations Secretary-General on 28 May 2020. During the statement given by the President of the Swiss Confederation, H.E. Simonetta Sommaruga gave specific mention of the Member State-led call to action and encouraged member states to join these efforts.
As devastating as the pandemic has been, it has also demonstrated how quickly the pace of innovation can be accelerated when necessary. UNCDF works to sustain that momentum and ensure that both men and women can benefit from innovation, leaving no one behind. We publish extensively and speak (virtually for the time being) at conferences, raising awareness about the issues affecting remittances, the importance of remittances to sustainable development, and the opportunity to reimagine remittances beyond moving money from point A to point B—as the gateway to powerfully effective financial services for people on the move.