Archive | September, 2011

H.R.H. Princess Maxima of the Netherlands in Mexico for the 2011 AFI Global Policy Forum

H.R.H. Princess Maxima of the Netherlands is currently in Riviera Maya, Mexico to participate in the 2011 AFI Global Policy Forum. As honorary chairwoman for the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI) it was her duty as well as pleasure to attend this important event to discuss all things financial and inclusiveness (if that makes any sense…)   :)

This morning the princess opened the forum with an interesting speech… here is what she had to say:

Good morning Governors, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

I am thrilled to be with you in person at AFI’s third Global Policy Forum.

I say in person given that last year I spoke with you by video    as part of the Leadership Roundtable. A whole year has gone by and I am inspired by the actions you are all taking to help advance financial inclusion-allowing innovation to happen, helping political commitment and when possible, making the necessary investments in the financial system infrastructure.

Why are you here? Historically your role as central bankers has been to assure stability in your financial systems, protect depositors, maybe guide monetary policy and maybe examine and approve new financial products. But the topic here highlights a growing interest that you all share. That is, how to combine your traditional roles with a pressing one, one of allowing more people to have more access to financial services-whatever these might be and whoever might provide them. This is a big challenge.

Increasing access means fostering new financial products and encouraging the spread of services available to both poor individuals and small and medium sized enterprises.

In practice, this has meant that many of you are at the forefront of policy innovation. Especially considering that you are leap-frogging many traditional developments that occurred in the banking sectors in the developed world.

Take mobile phone banking, for example in the Philippines and in Kenya. This new product involved a technology and service that did not fall within the realm of the central bank’s central’s role. There were so many unknowns and no policy precedent. And look where we are today.

Similar examples lie in Brazil with agent banking. Also here in Mexico with the creation of a tiered system that lets people open a basic financial account with fewer identification requirements. And BCEAO’s review of its early e-money regulation and consumer protection shows that regulation is not a one-off event, but a continuous process of innovation.

In financial regulation there is no one size fits all solution.

The most successful approaches are those that are tailored to local contexts and needs. So, even if it has been done elsewhere, it may be brand new within your own national context. In this way, those of you who are building on experiences of peers elsewhere, will have to further innovate.

Another demand that falls on regulators is maintaining a sound and safe system. This is your core role and responsibility as Governor Carstens already stated on Wednesday.

So to your discussions yesterday about financial integrity and inclusion, I would like to add stability.  There are no trade-offs between them, they are actually mutually reinforcing. Financial Inclusion helps reach financial stability by having broader savings base and a diversified loan portfolio. And financial stability will help financial inclusion as it will be delivered by diverse, strong and stable institutions. This complementarity is what I have conveyed most recently to the Basel Committee hoping to help the review of its Core Principles.

In my conversations and travels, I have sometimes observed a big emphasis on expansion of financial services. I have also observed what can happen when internal governance or external supervision of rapidly growing institutions does not keep pace. Until now, these new systems have been a small part of the financial system. So a crisis can be contained. This was the case in Andhra Pradesh, India. Problems were kept local on the stability front. The problem of course was the over-indebtness of individual clients and the question of why did they actually get so many loans in the first place.  So, this raises the issue of responsibility. Now, as these new systems grow, we can start talking about systematic risk.  And they will grow, I can assure you.

I just hope they do so visibly on your radar screens and in a way that every product is provided responsibly and it actually improves people’s lives.

What we want is more of good. Not more of bad.

We want financial systems that are accessible while also promoting responsibility. Malaysia, Peru and more recently Uganda are but several examples where regulators are building consumer protection and increasing transparency in a comprehensive approach.  

Good Supervision and monitoring are therefore very important to ensure soundness. But as financial inclusion increases, it may put more demands on supervisors. Supervisors may find they need to add capacity to handle larger volumes. Or acquire new skills and structures.  A good example of that happened in Senegal, where the Government created the Observatoire de la Qualité des Services Financiers to address the need to monitor the quality of financial services in a different way.

Financial inclusion and stability both demand good data.

So, I am thrilled to see so many national data efforts accelerating. For example, Fiji and Samoa are preparing long-term plans to obtain solid financial inclusion data. I am also thrilled to mention that also global data efforts are accelerating, such as the IMF’s Financial Access Survey. I cannot stress enough how important it is to respond properly to all indicators. Only in this way can we all count on reliable and comparable data. And of course, the work of the G20 on data, measurement and target setting. I know many of you are contributing to that already.

All this can be a challenge in the short-term. In the longer-term however, I believe that the kinds of innovations we are discussing today will make supervision and monitoring more effective. Mobile phones, electronic transactions, national payment systems or MFI common information systems. All these can provide real-time, consolidated, electronic data. This will give you a greater sense of patterns and risks, and help you do a better job.  Thus, it will be better for stability, integrity and inclusion.

We have so much to learn from each other. Three days once a year is probably not enough. I encourage you to document your experiences. Then be outspoken in sharing these lessons and best practices. This is so useful for overall future policy development and also for building support. For example, last winter, I lead a meeting with six global financial standard setting bodies. In response to this conversation, the AFI network has shared national examples on how implementation affects inclusion, as well as the challenges in innovative regulatory solutions. The resulting case studies will be discussed at the follow-up meeting.

 I am very happy that the President of Mexico as well as his Finance Minister and his Deputy will be here this afternoon. Political leaders of countries are the ones that will crystallize your good efforts by creating nation-wide support, partnership and scale for real impact.

By engaging the private sector in a broad manner.

Providing incentives for business development services to grow. Enactment of laws. Investment in needed infrastructure. Public-private partnerships that create high volumes and therefore low costs for the clients. Partnerships that can advance health and agriculture policies, possibly through health insurance and schematic rural finance approaches … social security, gender, sanitation, water, energy, pensions…. The list is endless. But all these are the issues that will change people’s lives and the reason why we believe in financial inclusion. So, while central bankers maintain a focus on their core business of financial system regulation and supervision, we also need the leadership of Governments to make financial inclusion a reality.

When AFI started three years ago, financial inclusion was perceived as something in addition to your job.  Now, dedicated central bankers like yourselves are beginning to include it within your core mandate. This is an enormous shift.

Now, we would like everyone to consider financial inclusion AS essential to financial stability, as financial stability is essential to financial inclusion.

I believe that in doing so, you will be attaining your institutional goals of building inclusive, responsible and stable financial systems in your country and around the world. In turn, this will contribute to sustainable and equitable economic growth for us all.

I look forward to the Mayan Declaration today and to hearing of your progress in the coming year.  I would like to thank AFI for this successful forum. source

Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands Attends the ‘Ensure Independence’ Symposium

On September 30, 2011, Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands was in Utrecht to participate in the 55th anniversary of the Princess Beatrix Fund jubilee symposium entitled, Ensure Independence.  As I mentioned a couple of days ago, during the event awards will be given to:

… individuals or organizations that have deployed a special way for people with muscle disease or a movement disorder. At the symposium “Care for Independence” focuses on issues regarding the housing, care and environment of patients with complex care needs. Patients, healthcare professionals and policy makers to consider the possibilities and limitations surrounding the independent living and work. source

To view photos please click here. 

Photo courtesy of: Koninklijkhuis.nl

H.R.H. Princess Caroline of Hanover in Berlin, Germany

On September 29, 2011, H.R.H. Princess Caroline of Hanover was in Berlin, Germany to attend the 2nd Annual German Watermill Center benefit, Voluptuous Panic.  “The Berlin Benefit will be the German celebration of Bob Wilson’s 70th birthday…”

The event was hosted by Montblanc and held at the Studio Elmgreen & Dragset.  To view photos please click here. 

Photo courtesy of: Zimbio/A. Rentz

H.R.H. Princess Clotilde of of Venice and Piedmont at Paris Fashion Week

Well, Spring/Summer 2012 Paris Fashion Week officially began this past Wednesday and every one who is anyone is currently in the beautiful city of lights to gaze upon amazing clothing by incredibly talented designers.

This afternoon, H.R.H. Princess Clotilde of of Venice and Piedmont attended the highly anticipated show by Olivier Rousteing for the house of Balmain.  Other royal attendees included Princess Siriwanwaree Nareerat of Thailand, French Vogue editor Emmanuelle Alt, French journalist Alexandra Golovanoff, fashion queen and blogger Bryan Boy, and Anna Dello Russo to name a few.

Balmain S/S 2012 Collection 

Photo courtesy of:  Gala

H.R.H. Princess Letizia of Asturias News

On Thursday, September 29, 2011, the Spanish Association Against Cancer has given the prizes for ‘V for Vida’ (V for Life) in a ceremony in Zaragoza, Spain. H.R.H. Princess Letizia of Asturias gave a fantastic speech during the ceremony in which she emphasized the importance of research in the fight against this deadly disease.  The winners of the ‘V for Vida’ prizes were Dr. Joan Massaguer, Enrique Ponce, and State Lotteries.

To view photos please click here.  For more information about the Spanish Association Against Cancer please visit their official website here.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Open A Children’s Cancer Center in Surrey (VIDEO)

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were in Sutton, Surrey this afternoon to open a new children’s cancer center at the Royal Marsden Hospital.  To watch a video from today’s event as well as to read an article please click here.  To view photos please click here. 

Photo courtesy of: Daylife/K.Wigglesworth/AFP

Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands Meets with the Prime Minister of Vietnam. Plus, Other News

On September 29, 2011, Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands met with the Prime Minister of Vietnam, Nguyen Tan Dung and his wife at Den Haag.  The couple are in the Netherlands for a five-day official visit.  To view photos please click here.

In other news, on Friday, September 30, 2011, Queen Beatrix will attend the re-opening of the Netherlands Maritime Museum in Amsterdam.  Later on in the day, she will participate in the 55th anniversary of the Princess Beatrix Fund jubilee symposium entitled, Ensure Independence, to be held in city of Utrecht, Netherlands.  According to the official site for the Dutch royal family, Het  Koninklijk Huis, during the event awards will be handed out to:

… individuals or organizations that have deployed a special way for people with muscle disease or a movement disorder. At the symposium ‘Ensure Independence’ focuses on issues regarding the housing, care and environment of patients with complex care needs. Patients, healthcare professionals and policy makers to consider the possibilities and limitations surrounding the independent living and work.

The Princess Beatrix Fund is committed to people with muscle disease or movement disorder.  The PBF invests in scientific research and is committed to improving the quality of life of patients and their families. The past ten years the fund has over € 25 million available for research. This has also led to a treatment for Pompe disease. source

Photo courtesy of: Daylife

T.R.H.s Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde of Belgium News

On September 29, 2011, H.R.H. Prince Philippe of Belgium attended the inauguration of two environmentally friendly production units by the company Floridienne Chemistry in Ath. The company, founded in 1898, is particularly active in the production and recycling of metals as well as other stuff that mostly like will not interest you.

Kidding.   :)

According to the Belgian newspaper, RTBF , these new production units cost over 40 million Euros and is more green in its design than ever before.  Great.

As for Princess Mathilde of Belgium, she was Sint-Jan-in-Eremo in East Flanders this evening where is attended an academic session to celebrate of 25 years of “Plattelandklassen”:

This session took place in the provincial sports center ‘De Boerekreek’ in Sint-Jan-in-Eremo.  This form of rural and agricultural education puts the youth in contact with the modern agriculture and horticulture. source

To view photos from both events please click the links below:

Monaco Princely Family News

Recently, H.S.H. Princess Charlene of Monaco was invited to the French town of La Turbie where she, along with the local youth as well as the mayor Nicolas Bassani, celebrated Mass in honor of the village’s patron saint, Saint Michel.  Photos.

Meanwhile, H.S.H. Prince Albert II met with the director of the Laboratory of Environment of the International Agency for Atomic Energy (IAEA), Mr. Yukiya Amano, at the Musee Oceanographique. During their meeting the prince and Mr. Amano “… signed an agreement to strengthen cooperation between the IAEA agency and laboratories for the use of nuclear technologies in the areas of health and environmental protection.”   To read more about the event please click here.  To view photos please click here.

The next important meeting for H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco will be with well-known author, Professor Tim Flannery.  Mr. Flannery will be awarded the Officer of Saint Charles at a ceremony at the Palais Princier.

Courtesy of the Palais Princier de Monaco.   :)

H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco in Baden-Baden, Germany

On September 28, 2011, H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco arrived in Baden-Baden, Germany to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Olympic Congress.

Later in the afternoon, the prince along with other senior members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), participated in the Deutscher Olympischer Sport Bund (DOSB) roundtable Q&A fest along with Hungarian President and Olympic fencing champion Pál Schmitt, IOC Athletes Commission Chairman Frank Fredericks, and many others.

To view photos please click here.  To learn more about the history of the Olympic Congress please click here.

‘The Last Grand Duchess: H.I.H. Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna of Russia’

Here is the final documentary for today entitled, The Last Grand Duchess.  This series traces the life of H.I.H. Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna of Russia the daughter of Emperor Alexander III and Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia.  So far the program is quite interesting.

Click the links below to watch:

‘Henry VIII: The Mind of a Tyrant’ Hosted by Dr. David Starkey

Here is the documentary, Henry VIII: The Mind of a Tyrant, with your host — again — Dr. David Starkey who traces “… the dramatic events of Henry’s childhood, events that shaped his personality and his attitude to kingship.”

‘The Queen’s Palaces: Holyroodhouse’

Here is the third installment from the BBC One documentary series, The Queen’s Palaces. This segment focuses on Holyroodhouse in Scotland.

Britain’s least well-known royal palace and yet probably the most romantic, Edinburgh’s Palace of Holyroodhouse sits in the shadow of the dormant volcano Arthur’s Seat.
It is also one of Britain’s smallest palaces and yet events at Holyrood have determined the fate of three countries – England, France and Scotland. It was also the last place where a royal prince challenged the right of an English king to sit on the throne.

Fiona Bruce discovers remarkable objects from the Royal Collection that are intimately bound to the Palace’s turbulent history – from the spectacular Darnley Jewel with its many hidden messages to the cat-and-mouse needlework of a doomed queen.