KINGSTON, Jamaica – Against the background of the postponement of last year’s conference , and recent issues raised by members of the Jamaican Diaspora, consultation with overseas based Jamaicans is being enhanced to assure a successful 2011 Jamaican Diaspora Convention next month.
“The consultative mechanism has been designed to
facilitate more effective communication between the Diaspora and the Government of Jamaica,” Senator Marlene Malahoo-Forte, State Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, told the Convention press launch at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, last Friday (May 20). “We intend to fully and better utilize it as we go forward.”
Jamaicans from Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States and other regions of the world, along with a delegation of local nationals, will meet at the 2011 Convention, at the Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort & Spa in Ocho Rios, June 15-17. Key topics of the biennial talks will include governance and operational structure of the Diaspora, engaging future leaders, as well as national economic and social initiatives, and possible Diaspora contributions.
Senator Marlene Malahoo-Forte (left), State Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade smiles explains the approach adopted in developing the Jamaican Diaspora Convention 2011. She is flanked by Earl Jarrett, Chairman of the Jamaican Diaspora Foundation, during the press launch of the Convention, at the foreign affairs ministry on Friday, May 20.
The Jamaican Diaspora Advisory Board was “a significant factor” in developing the Convention, through its liaising with members of the Jamaican community overseas, Senator Malahoo-Forte said. She also pointed to the role of the Preparatory Committee, chaired by Earl Jarrett, Chairman of the Jamaican Diaspora foundation; as well as, the country’s Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates General.
“The Diaspora Convention 2011 promises to be a ‘game changing event’,” Mr. Jarrett stated. “It is setting the stage for a new level of interaction between the persons who represent Jamaican Diaspora communities overseas, government and private sector representatives here in Jamaica.”
He said that the 2010 convention scheduled for Kingston in May last year had to be postponed; and, “based on discussions with Jamaicans in the Disapora, it was determined that the convention format, outside of Kingston, will provide a better working context.”
Additionally, issues such as enhancing communication and participation in Diaspora entities have already generated public debate leading up to this year’s convention, Mr. Jarrett pointed out. “We plan to fully address these matters and arrive at positive solutions,” he stated.
Professor Neville Ying, Executive Director of the Jamaica Diaspora Institute, responding to questions from the media about the treatment of recommendations from previous Diaspora meetings, said such decisions been implemented. He pointed to the establishment of a Diaspora Institute, and a Diaspora Advisory Board; as well as, the establishment of a joint committee of the Houses of Parliament, which specifically deals with Diaspora issues, among other recommendations.
Jamaica must redefine the scope of its activities to encompass nationals living both inside and outside the country’s borders, said Noel Greenland, Vice-president, Marketing, GraceKennedy Limited, a sponsor of the Convention. “The solutions we are looking for should benefit us all as one people, seeking the same end.”
Senator Marlene Malahoo-Forte (second left), State Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade smiles while Earl Jarrett, Chairman of the Jamaican Diaspora Foundation, gestures while responding to a question from the media during the launch of the Jamaican Diaspora Convention 2011, at the foreign affairs ministry on Friday, May 20. They are flanked by Noel Greenland (right), Vice-president, Marketing, GraceKennedy Limited and Professor Neville Ying, Executive Director of the Jamaica Diaspora Institute.
“Over the past years, the Government of Jamaica has progressively adjusted its foreign policy to reflect the significant role which the Jamaican Diaspora has been playing at different levels,” Senator Malahoo-Forte said. “Jamaicans have created an important movement, which today we can proudly and effectively harness and leverage for national development.”
Current conference records indicate a steady increase in the number of prospective overseas delegates making reservations for the conference; and enquiring about tour and other activities in Ocho Rios, for the period June 15 through that weekend.