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Closing Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Maria Emma Mejia Permanent Representative of Colombia to the United Nations, High-level Event "A Chance for Change: Child and Youth Finance and the Post-2015 Agenda"

New York, May 23, 2014

 

Distinguished participants,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to address this High-level Event on Child and Youth Finance and the Post-2015 Agenda. I am confident that our discussions today will be valuable inputs for the next session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, as well as for the preparations for the post-2015 development agenda. I wish to thank our hosts and organizers, Child and Youth Finance International for making this event possible.

Distinguished participants,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Financial inclusion is a driver and critical enabler for achieving equitable and faster economic growth and social development, and a way to contribute to the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the MDG´s. In fact, a broader access to diverse financial services constitute an effective way of empowering people through income generation, poverty alleviation, building of assets, access to social services and education and resilience to setbacks. Even though, we recognize the need to promote financial literacy and financial capabilities as critical elements to seize the benefits of financial inclusion.

In this regard, child and youth financial education acquires greatest importance. Let me briefly touch on what we´re doing in Colombia. Last February, the Decree 457/2014 that organizes the "National Administrative System for Economic and Financial Literacy" was signed on the ocassion of the visit of Her Majesty Queen Maxima, United Nations Secretary General´s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development.

The National Administrative System will be in charge of coordinating all the activities (both public and private) geared towards achieving adequate levels of economic and financial literacy among the population. The Decree recognizes also that financial education must start at school, and that all citizens should receive financial education as early as possible in their life cycle.

Also the Colombian Ministry of Education is currently carrying out a project to include in a cross-cutting way financial education as a competence at elementary and high school level. The pilot of this project will start with 120 schools and will be evaluated in order to improve its design and assess its impact. It´s important to mention that in Colombia, formal education is based on standards, is flexible, and has a cross-cutting nature; in this regard, financial education is not conceived as a subject in the curriculum, but as a competence within it.

Regarding the issue of access to financial services, in particular savings, between 2007 and 2012 the number of young (under-eighteens) with savings accounts in Colombia increased from 767.000 to 1.1 million, which represented a raise of 44%. In June 2013, 1.2 million young colombian (under-eighteens) had one savings account. These figures represent the efforts of my country for promoting and enhancing saving habits among the youngest. However, the challenges remain given that these numbers only represent around 7% of the youth (under-eighteens) in Colombia.

The country is also preparing a drecree creating a Comission for Financial Inclusion, that will be in charge of proposing policies, guidelines, and tools to adopt steps towards enhancing financial inclusion in Colombia.

Distinguished participants,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Financial education and financial inclusion are pathways and cross-cutting components for fighting against extreme poverty, reducing inequalities, informality, improving quality of life, welfare worldwide, and fosters economic growth. As a consequence, they should be embedded as an integral component of the new development agenda.

In this regard, Colombia is proud to be part of the Group of Friends of Financial Inclusion, an informal initiative aimed at promoting and mainstreaming financial inclusion in all the UN processes, in particular the sustainable developments goals and the post-2015 development agenda.

Finally, let me stress the importance of international cooperation to strengthen capacity building on financial education and financial inclusion policy development and implementation, in particular for developing countries. It´s also important to harness public and private sector efforts aimed at increasing access to financial education and financial services, as well as engage all the relevant stakeholders in the process.

I thank you.