The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives, under the theme “Cooperatives build a better world” to highlight the contribution of cooperatives to socio-economic development. In adopting resolution 64/136 on 18 December, the Assembly noted that cooperatives impact poverty reduction, employment generation and social integration.

A cooperative is an autonomous voluntary association of people who unite to meet common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations, through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise. In general, they contribute to socio- economic development.

As self-help organizations that meet the needs of their members. Cooperatives assist in generating employment and incomes throughout local communities. Cooperatives provide      opportunities for social inclusion.  In the informal economy, workers have formed shared service cooperatives and associations to assist in their self-employment.  In rural areas, savings and credit cooperatives provide access to banking services that are lacking in many communities and   finance the formation of small and micro businesses.

The cooperative sector worldwide has about 800 million members in over 100 countries and is estimated to account for more than 100 million jobs around the world.  The strength and reach of cooperatives are  illustrated in the following examples under the umbrella of the World Council of Credit Unions, 49,000 credit unions serve 177 million members in 96  countries, and 4,200 banks under the European Association of Cooperative Banks serve 149 million clients; agricultural cooperatives account for 80 to 99 per cent of milk production in Norway, New Zealand and the United States; 71 per cent of fishery production in the Republic of Korea; and 40 per cent of agriculture in Brazil; electric cooperatives play a key role in rural areas.  In Bangladesh, rural electric cooperatives serve 28 million people. In the United States, 900 rural electric cooperatives serve 37 million people and own almost half of the electric distribution lines in the country.

The Cooperative Movement welcomes International Year of Cooperative 2012 and has accelerated the planning process towards making this a memorable event.  In keeping with United Nation recommendation a National Committee has been established.

The Committee comprises of the Cooperative   Division; representative of Ministry of Finance; Social Services; Agriculture; Youth Division; Local Government, Credit Unions Fisheries Division; Dominica Cooperative Societies League; representative from the St.Marks Fisheries Cooperative. A draft program of activities and budget for the year have been completed.  The Cooperative Division is also working on establishing a website, which would highlight the activities of the Division and International Cooperative year.

The local theme for the year’s observance is “Encouraging entrepreneurship through Cooperatives” local official launching for the year is expected to be held in December 2011 and media launch in September 2011. We therefore encourage Dominicans to get ready to participate in the events for International Cooperative year 2012 which will include a banner competition, theme song competition and also a Calypso competition amongst other activities.