As another year draws to a close, it is time to look back and reflect on the past 12 months.
It is also a time to give thanks to all of you. Our results would not have been possible without your continued support. I would also like to thank the Board members for their commitment, passion and creativity which instil in me a confidence that we are equipped to take on whatever challenges and opportunities lie ahead.
I will not dwell on our past activities as they are already fully presented in our annual report. But as an illustration of our accomplishments in the past year, our 2019 international conference held in Kigali brought together a thousand delegates - cooperators, cooperative leaders, institutional personalities, government representatives, researchers, etc. - from some 80 countries. The program offered an impressive content covering the role of the cooperative movement in the achievement of the sustainable development goals, including several talks on development best practices from worldwide cooperatives. I really believe that our 2019 conference “Cooperatives for development” provided us with inspirational ideas and new perspectives.
In 2019, we have also fought hard in many other fields such as, inter alia, our identity, policy, institutional recognition, membership, partnerships, inter-cooperation, growth, development, visibility, communications, gender equality, youth.
Last but not least, we have laid the foundations of the ICA Strategy Plan for 2020-2030 and we are ready for the future.
As the calendar page turns, our story unfolds. I already know that 2020 will be a memorable year for the ICA and the whole cooperative movement.
Indeed, 2020 will see the celebration of the 125th anniversary of the ICA on the occasion of its 33rd Congress. And what better place to hold these events than in Seoul, South Korea, which is the symbol between tradition and innovation. I avail myself of the occasion to extend my heartfelt thanks to our Korean hosts.
From 11 to 17 December 2020, we will walk together in the footsteps of the cooperative movement 's founding fathers. All our events will be a true link between the past and present but also between the present and future. Such exercise will unite us to the past centuries. But, it will also pass what we are on to the next centuries. This great gathering already promises to be exciting.
Thank you again for your continued cooperation and confidence. It is a great honor for me to be leading the International Cooperative Alliance. Let us all march into 2020 with pride of what we have accomplished and the drive to make the next year even more amazing as we advance the cooperative identity worldwide.
Looking forward to meeting you soon in Seoul, I wish you all the best during the holiday season and a Happy New Year!