UNDP, Western Union join forces to channel remittances for development

28 Feb 2011

New York — The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Western Union Foundation today announced a US$500,000 initiative to assist Filipino and Moroccan migrants living and working abroad to contribute to sustainable local development in their home countries.

This contribution represents a portion of a $1.1 million grant from the Western Union Foundation to support the efforts of three United Nations agencies to advance the Millennium Development Goals –a set of eight internationally–agreed goals designed to reduce poverty, hunger, disease, and maternal and child deaths by 2015.

Through this programme, migrants abroad will be offered new ways to collectively support development priorities set by the government and local communities in their home countries. These may include improving access to critical services like health, education and finance, and supporting small business and job creation.

“With just five years left to 2015, the target date to achieve the global anti-poverty goals, we must find innovative ways to improve the lives of millions of people living in poverty in the developing world,” said Olav Kjorven, UNDP Director for the Bureau of Development Policy. “Remittances represent a significant source of funds that could be used to benefit the larger community, beyond the household level.”

The World Bank estimates that in 2010, some 8.5 million Filipinos living abroad remitted $21.3 billion, while 4.5 million Moroccans in the diaspora sent home $6.4 billion.

With the support of the Western Union Foundation, UNDP will assist the two countries to develop policies, institutions, skills and mechanisms that employ remittances to reduce poverty; engage diaspora communities as transnational actors of local development and services delivery; and enhance partnerships between all levels of government, the private sector and non-governmental organizations.

“At Western Union, we create shared value by leveraging our 445,000 Agent locations to make it possible for millions to go places, prosper and build better lives,” said Hikmet Ersek, President and CEO of Western Union. “In many developing countries, remittances provide more financial resources than aid and foreign investment combined. By innovating approaches for consumers to multiply their impact, we will be able to foster economic opportunity and expand education resources in the developing world.”

The Western Union Foundation also announced the details of its 2011 commitment of $1.1 million to the United Nations family. 

In addition to the UNDP contribution (half of which was paid in 2010), the Western Union Foundation committed $600,000 to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to support its efforts in restoring the education system for children in Haiti.

The grant will support, in part, the Accelerated Learning Programme, focusing on vocational skills training to help rebuild earthquake-affected communities, while preparing young people for viable local careers.

The Foundation will also match up to $250,000 in corporate donations to the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), representing a challenge for the corporate community to raise a total of $500,000 in celebration of the CERF’s five-year anniversary.
 
The funds will be used to enable more timely and reliable humanitarian assistance to those affected by natural disasters and armed conflicts. Western Union, CERF’s first corporate supporter, has contributed $100,000 annually to the organization since 2007.

Contact Information

Western Union Foundation:
Anna Alejo  
Tel.: +1720 332 3884
anna.alejo@westernunion.com

UNDP:
Sandra Macharia
Tel.: +1212 906 5377
Sandra.macharia@undp.org