Staff Reporter

More than 70 representatives from government, civil society organisations (CSOs), development partners, media, and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) gathered in Thimphu and Paro to launch the ADB’s first Civil Society Partnerships Day in Asia and the Pacific yesterday.

ADB hosted the two-day gathering as the first in a series of events across ADB’s developing member countries to strengthen relationships between government and civil society.

In Bhutan, the theme was “TriUnity: Forging Pathways of Collaboration for Sustainable Progress.” Sessions led by distinguished government officials and leaders of civil society organizations inspired dialogue around pressing development challenges identified in the upcoming 13th Five Year Plan of Bhutan and ADB’s forthcoming country partnership strategy.

Department of Law and Order Director General Pasang Dorj said, “The challenges we confront—be they in climate change, social inequality, or economic disparity—are indeed formidable. Yet, they are not insurmountable. It is in gatherings like these, where the government, civil society, and development partners converge, that we recognise the potential to effect lasting and positive change.”

“In the spirit of collaboration and unity, let us engage in open dialogue, celebrate our shared achievements, and, most importantly, commit to actions that will leave a lasting impact on the communities we serve and the world we share,” he said.

Partnerships between the government and CSOs  were further highlighted through a CSO Partnerships Marketplace, a unique feature of the program where CSOs shared project ideas.

CSO leaders promoted their respective project ideas across thematic development areas tied to Bhutan’s development priorities.

Bhutan Media Foundation Executive Director Needrup Zangpo said that there was a need to plan the future for CSOs strategically alongside the government.

“Where and how do CSOs feature in the 13th five-year plan, for example? The interface between the government and civil society must be expanded and strengthened. The government and CSOs can be the best development partners. With mutual trust, CSOs can be the government’s extra arms, enabling it to do more things,” he said.

According to the ADB, to support the government and civil society partners across the country to collaborate and together forge a more prosperous, inclusive, sustainable, and resilient Asia and the Pacific.