Plenary Wednesday


Mobile industry holds the key to financial access

A plenary session that starts off the day is quite normal at conferences - unless the session features Queen Máxima of the Netherlands as keynote speaker. The Queen gave an inspiring speech about climate change and access to financial services, and in particular the urgency of opening up financial services to those who have thus far been denied access to it.

Queen Máxima took the podium in her capacity as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development. She pointed out that worldwide 230 million people are affected by natural disasters caused by climate change. Financial inclusion, access to financial services, is vital in improving resilience both for individuals, households, communities and businesses, especially smallholder farmers and SME's, which are the backbone of any economy. Financial services can reduce their vulnerability. Today, two billion people are financially excluded. But there is one industry that shows broad potential to financial inclusion for these people—mobile telecommunications. In countries like Kenia, Tanzania and Uganda an app made it possible for the people to get solar energy.

The need for small farmers - the backbone of an economies - to have access to financial institutions.

The panel discussion then started. And this extraordinary plenary ended with the words of Princess Abze Djigma of Burkina Faso. “Woman in Burkina put their money together. We use it for projects. And the basis is trust. Trust. That is what we do, what everyone does in business. Without trust you do not do business." The Burkinabé Princess invited the Dutch queen to the meeting where she would launch an expertise centre.           

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Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, United Nations Secretary-General’s
Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (video) (speech)

Panel (video)

  • Naoko Ishii, CEO of the Global Environment Facility, USA
  • Laurent Sédogo, Executive Director of the West African Science Service Center on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use, Ghana
  • Feike Sijbesma, CEO & Chairman of the Managing Board DSM, the Netherlands
  • Paula Caballero, Senior Director Natural Resources, The World Bank
  • Marjeta Jager, Deputy Director General Directorate-General International Cooperation and Development, European Commission
  • Robert Glasser, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction
  • Wim Kuijken, Delta Commissioner and Chair of the Supervisory Board of DNB, the central bank of the Netherlands