The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) organized the 2007 International Forum on Remittances at the IDB Conference Center in Washington DC, on 18-19 October 2007.
Remittances are part of the centuries-old pattern of migration from rural to urban areas. Nowadays, remittances represent the human face of globalization, in which millions of people migrate in search of a better life and in order to provide for their loved ones back home. One person out of every ten in the world is personally affected by the hundreds of billions of US dollars in remittances that are sent every year by migrants to families back home.
These flows of human and financial capital have profound implications for the economies and societies of the sending and the receiving countries.
Over the past 20 years, remittances have influenced the economic and social identities of regions worldwide. A case in point is Latin America, with a flow of remittances totalling US$63 billion in 2006, which, many experts believe, now exceeds the combined total of all Foreign Direct Investment and Overseas Development Assistance to the region.
However, this phenomenon is also evident on a global scale, in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. To date, very little is known about these global flows, and the true magnitude of remittances remains hidden in the errors and omissions columns of national balance of payments accounts.
At a microeconomic level, remittances offer a direct opportunity to improve access to financial services, with a greater pro-poor and rural outreach by linking remittances to products such as savings and loans. Therefore, remittance services are main elements of interventions by IFAD and the MIF, both of which have mandates to improve access to financial services for the rural poor and to strengthen the private sector in developing countries.
In support of IFAD’s multi-donor Financing Facility for Remittances, IFAD and the MIF organized the 2007 Forum to follow-up on the 2005 Forum on Remittances that provided more than 600 guests from the private and public sectors and civil society with the opportunity to share experiences and create partnerships that have had a significant impact on the remittance market.