Delivered by Mr. Anwarul K. Chowdhury,
Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the Secretary-General
for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries
and Small Island Developing States

New York, 10 November 2002

Microcredit is a critical anti-poverty tool and a wise investment in human capital. Now that the nations of the world have committed themselves to reduce by half, by the year 2015, the number of people living on less than a dollar a day, we must look even more seriously at the pivotal role that sustainable microfinance can play, and is playing, in reaching this Millennium Development Goal.

The global effort launched in 1997 to highlight the wide-ranging benefits of microcredit has found strong resonance in the United Nations General Assembly, which declared 2005 to be the “International Year of Microcredit”. The last five years have also seen grassroots community development organizations and the financial services sector working more and more closely together, creating partnerships that provide the financial services the very poor require to work their way out of poverty and move towards self-reliance, while ensuring that successes and failures are quantified.

The phenomenal growth in the number of microcredit beneficiaries represents the combined achievements of thousands of innovative institutions around the world, and tens of thousands of their dedicated staff. The United Nations system is proud to be your partner in this work, and you can count on our support as you continue your efforts to achieve your goal of reaching 100 million of the world’s poorest households by the year 2005.

In that spirit, please accept my best wishes for a successful summit.