Milan, 16 June 2015: More than 400 policymakers, private-sector stakeholders and civil-society representatives observed the first International Day of Family Remittances today at the opening of the fifth Global Forum on Remittances and Development in Milan.
In launching the international day and the forum, keynote speakers emphasized the importance of remittances for families and developing countries and called for global recognition of their impact on development.
“Today we honour migrant workers, their families and their stories of hope, separation and sacrifice,” said Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)." We also recognise their vital contribution to their families at home and to the development of their nations."
“Over the past 15 years, we have gained a much better understanding of remittance flows to developing countries. The scale of these funds is nothing short of astonishing. The key question is: how can we maximize their development impact?” said Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, speaking at the forum in her role as the United Nations Secretary-General's Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA).
In 2014, migrant workers from developing countries sent US$436 billion to their families back home. These funds provided for basic needs such as food, housing, health and education, but they also helped many families raise their living standards above subsistence levels.
With 40 per cent of remittances going to rural areas, Nwanze added that remittances could play a critical role in transforming poor communities if both migrants and their families at home were given more options to invest their funds, creating opportunities for business development and employment.
However, many barriers still exist that prevent remittances from meeting their development potential. The costs for transferring money is still high costing on average about 7.9 per cent of the amount sent.
The lack of access to adequate financial services by recipient families prevents them from investing. In rural areas, only about 10 per cent of poor rural people have access to the most basic financial services.
"The World Bank Group is committed to continue supporting migrants' efforts. We renew our vow to create a worldwide, safer, more efficient and more accessible environment for remittances", said Gloria Grandolini, World Bank Senior Director, Finance and Markets Global Practice while at the forum.
The Global Forum on Remittances and Development is organized by IFAD, The World Bank and the European Commission, 16-19 June in Milan.
The forum brings together public, private and civil-society experts from more than 76 countries to showcase and identify ways to help migrant workers and their families maximize the impact of their remittances.
The International Day of Family Remittances was unanimously proclaimed by all 176 members states of IFAD’s Governing Council held in February.