The first Saturday of July every year is celebrated as the International Day of Co-operatives (IDC) and this year, the day falls on the 2nd of July. The theme/slogan for IDC, 2016 is “Cooperatives: The power to act for a sustainable future” emphasising on the role Co-operatives play towards achieving the Sustainable Development goals.
“During the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015, world leaders committed to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, outlining an ambitious vision for a better world. They agreed on seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to wipe out poverty, fight inequality and injustice and tackle climate change, all over the next fifteen years. Co-operatives have a unique role to play in realising the SDGs. The co-operative business model has sustainable development at its core, being based on ethical values and principles. Locally rooted and people driven, co-operatives contribute to sustainable economic growth, social development and environmental responsibility.” — International Cooperative Alliance
Guided by the overarching philosophy of Gross National happiness and its four pillars of 1) Promotion of Equitable and Sustainable Socio Economic Development; 2) Preservation and Promotion of Cultural Values; 3) Conservation of the Natural Environment; and 4) Good Governance, Bhutan has always been working towards a sustainable future. At a time when the world is grappling with climate change, Bhutan has achieved a carbon-negative status.
The mandate of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests to enhance food and nutrition security, enhance sustainable rural livelihood to overcome poverty, accelerate the renewable natural resources sector growth and promote sustainable management and utilisation of natural resources aligns with majority of the identified 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
Co-operatives have a unique role to play in realising the Goals since they contribute to sustainable economic growth through community involvement and ownership, enhancing equal opportunities, fostering innovation, ensuring social development thereby resulting in poverty eradication, promoting equality and equity, conserving the environment, promoting gender equality and empowering women, and providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
Presently, there are 47 Cooperatives and 331 Farmer Groups registered with the Department of Agricultural Marketing and Cooperatives, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests in Bhutan with 50%, 36%, 12% and 2% of them engaging in Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry and Non-RNR economic activities respectively. Working in Cooperatives and Farmer Groups have benefitted members in terms of better opportunities, easier access to markets through collective marketing, better value for products, assured income thereby boosting savings and livelihood, quality innovation and business ideas, enhanced community vitality, focused activities, easier access to support, productive employment, enhanced continuity and most importantly progressive, content, self-sustained and empowered society.
On behalf of the Ministry and on my own behalf, I would like to wish all Cooperatives and Farmer Groups within the country and the International Community a meaningful International Day of Cooperatives, 2016.
I commend you for your efforts and wish you success in all your future endeavours.
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