18 April 2017, Geneva, Switzerland – The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) has agreed to an unprecedented partnership with the Arab Gulf Program for Development (AGFUND), which will be concluded today as part of the Fifth AGFUND Development Forum. Both organizations, represented by Mr. Nikhil Seth, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNITAR, and by Mr. Nasser B. Al-Kahtani, Executive Director of the AGFUND, will sign a Memorandum of Understanding based on mutual trust and in spirit of cooperation. The official signing will be the preamble of the “Symposium on the Role of Financial Inclusion in Achieving the 2030 Agenda of Sustainable Development”, organized by the AGFUND and taking place today at the Hotel President Wilson in Geneva.

The objectives of this Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) are to provide a cooperative framework within which the parties can develop and implement activities, as well as to utilize their existing resources for the benefit of the activities’ beneficiaries. The forms of cooperation between the two organizations will include the development of technical assistance, training, conferences, workshops, and the development of knowledge resources such as reports and research papers. The UNITAR and AGFUND’s major concern? Financial inclusion, mainly in the African region. This area of work – that can be defined by financial services (e.g. credit, savings, payments, mortgage) delivered at affordable costs to disadvantaged populations as a tool for poverty reduction – falls within the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Financial inclusion is important to allow the beneficiaries to save money or take loans in order to study, to start new businesses, invest in small companies, and increase the standard of living, etc.

According to Mr. Nikhil Seth, “While the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) do not explicitly mention financial inclusion, greater access to financial services is a key enabler for many of them”, as he introduced his speech this morning. UNITAR’s Executive Director believes that national financial inclusion strategies provide the groundwork for coordinated efforts between government, private sector and civil society. The SDGs call for action by all countries and the SDG areas cannot be financed from public resources alone and will require private financing, hence the partnership with the AGFUND and other partnerships, such as the collaboration with Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA).  

The Fifth AGFUND Development Forum takes place in Geneva, during the period 18-20 April 2017 at the Hotel President Wilson. The Forum will be held under the patronage of HRH Prince Talal Bin Abdul Aziz, President of AGFUND, and attended by development partners, media and AGFUND Prize winners. 

About UNITAR

The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) is a principal training arm of the United Nations, working in every region of the world. We empower individuals, governments and organizations through knowledge and learning to effectively overcome contemporary global challenges. The UNITAR Hiroshima Office, mandated to promote post-conflict reconstruction and international peace, has long engaged in designing and conducting training for people from post-conflict countries, such as Afghanistan and South Sudan, and commands a unique understanding of the needs of such trainees as they work toward peace.