Statement of Judith Karl, UNCDF Executive Secretary, on the occasion of UNCDF’s 50th Anniversary

  • December 13, 2016

  • New York, USA

Today UNCDF celebrates its 50th anniversary.

Much has changed in the world since UNCDF’s founding in 1966, and while its programmes have evolved over the years, its guiding mission has remained very much the same: making finance work for the poor.

With a capital mandate unique in the UN development system, UNCDF has consistently helped LDCs pilot and test business models and public finance mechanisms that can be scaled up and that provide inclusive finance solutions for people, places and small enterprise levels that are under-served and excluded, where development needs are greatest, and where resources are scarcest.

Central to these efforts is that UNCDF works with communities and local governments and identifies potential markets where few others operate or see value. Yet, by carefully deploying its seed investments, UNCDF has demonstrated time and again how small amounts of ODA can help LDCs leverage public and private resources exponentially for maximum impact.

As a small organization with longstanding presence and expertise in many of the world’s Least Developed Countries, UNCDF’s proud story is that of making a big difference in the lives of poor men and women.

It is the story of an organization taking calculated risks, testing out new approaches, creating new markets, and attracting public and private sector investment to under-served markets and neglected regions. It is also the story of how financial innovations can work hand-in-glove with new technologies, such as digital financial services, and help make growth more local, more inclusive, and more resilient.

UNCDF’s longstanding commitment to building knowledge and generating learning, and to building on what works is a core part of what has made UNCDF such a valuable actor in the financing for development architecture. It is what allows UNCDF to try out original ideas, show where there is value for other bigger actors to follow, and leverage public and private resources for maximum impact.

All of this is possible because of the readiness of governments in LDCs to experiment with such innovations and to articulate smart strategies to reduce poverty. UNCDF is proud to have worked with over 40 LDCs on their development journey.

We are also deeply grateful to our funding and implementing partners. Without their critical support over many decades, UNCDF would not be able to move from ideas to action.

UNCDF’s job is now more important and more relevant than ever. LDCs face many challenges, but also many opportunities. To achieve the SDGs, both the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the 2030 Agenda recognize the need for new financing and businesses models that mobilize resources from both the public and private sectors. This is what UNCDF does.

As we mark 50 years, we also look ahead to 2030 and beyond, working together we can help LDCs reach their graduation and development goals.

Together, we can build a more prosperous, fair, and inclusive world for all.

For more information, please contact

Chiara Pace
Partnerships and Communications Specialist