The Government is lobbying the support of Jamaicans living overseas for the establishment of proposed Global Jamaica Diaspora and Global Jamaica Youth Councils.
This was announced by Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, who said the concept for both proposals will be discussed with delegates attending the Eighth Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference, whose endorsement is being sought.
She was speaking at the opening session of the four-day event at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston on Monday (June 17).
Senator Johnson said the Global Jamaica Diaspora Council is intended to be an expanded and inclusive body with a wide membership of individuals “who hold Jamaica at the forefront of their voluntary efforts”.
The Minister noted that not only will the Council “ease the burden” placed on the Diaspora Advisory Board, “but it will allow for greater inclusivity of Jamaicans living afar in lands across the oceans”.
She said it is intended to have members from six regions not currently represented on the Board. These are Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, and the Middle East.
“This way we ensure that in diasporic regions, which are real but are not as yet organised, they will have an opportunity to engage with us directly and to learn from colleagues who are more organised. This is how we [will] create the institutional framework to build out and expand our diaspora to the reach that we know we truly have,” the Minister added.
She said efforts will also be made to ensure that wide-ranging sector interests are represented,
These, the Minister outlined, include health; education; arts, sports and culture; faith-based institutions; citizen security; commerce, and development.
This, Senator Johnson Smith further pointed out, will ensure that persons with the breadth of expertise and experience in these areas are engaged and afforded the opportunity to make their contributions to Jamaica’s development.
She indicated that details regarding appointments, among other areas, will be further discussed during the relevant sessions.
Meanwhile, Senator Johnson Smith said the Global Jamaica Diaspora Youth Council is intended to create the framework for increased and sustainable connections between young Jamaicans living overseas and the island.
“We know that our young people are our future. We know, have known and have been saying for some time that it is important that young Jamaicans maintain a connection to our island, outside of just our food, language, music and culture,” the Minister noted.
She contended, however, that “it is not enough for them to be single members of the Diaspora Advisory Board”.
“We need to give them the space and the framing to devise and implement the sustainable means of deepening engagement with their contemporaries in Jamaica and in the broader diaspora,” the Minister added.
“Jamaican young people must know the legacy of our people and our country and be incorporated to sustain our and their development,” he said.
This, the Minister said, as part of efforts to create safer, stronger and more economically viable societies, while ensuring that “no one is left behind”.
Senator Johnson Smith advised that the diaspora youth representatives have “taken the lead” to define a framework that, with support, “can allow us to now have that sustainable means of connection and succession in diaspora leadership”.
“I look forward to their presentation to Conference and I trust that we will all support their commitment to moving forward in action,” she said.
Meanwhile, Senator Johnson Smith advised the delegates that a draft of the proposed National Diaspora Policy has been prepared, which will be discussed with them with a view to securing their endorsement, before its submission to Cabinet for consideration and approval.
The Policy will provide the framework for effective partnerships with Jamaicans living abroad.
The Conference is being held from June 16 to 20 under the theme ‘Jamaica and the Diaspora: Building Pathways for Sustainable Development’.