Youth Representation on Diaspora to Increase

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Story Highlights

  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade will be increasing the number of young people on the Diaspora Advisory Boards.
  • “We are going to increase youth representation from one youth leader per country to one youth leader per region in the same way that the other senior members are represented,” said Portfolio Minister, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith.
  • “It’s important that we know that things will work smoothly when a process is engaged and it also means that we need to make our processes more accessible and simplified, so there is work to do on both sides but we are getting it done,” she said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade will be increasing the number of young people on the Diaspora Advisory Boards.

“We are going to increase youth representation from one youth leader per country to one youth leader per region in the same way that the other senior members are represented,” said Portfolio Minister, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith.

She was addressing the closing ceremony for the Jamaica 55 Diaspora Conference at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston, on July 26.

In addition, she informed that the term future leaders will be changed to youth leaders. “I wanted you to know that we are hearing and we are taking action. We are not just talking, we are actually trying to change the dynamic and to increase and improve our engagement,” she pointed out.

The Diaspora Advisory Board arose out of the First Biennial Diaspora Conference held in Kingston 2004, and represents an important bridge between the Government and the Jamaican communities overseas.

The board members are required to liaise with community-based groups, alumnus associations and influential individuals in their respective countries to obtain a clear understanding of the issues, interests and concerns within the Jamaican communities. In addition, they are required to brief their respective communities on the priority areas of the Government.

The boards consist of 10 individuals, who are elected by their peers in each Diaspora location for a period of two years.

In the meantime, Senator Johnson Smith is urging members of the Diaspora to familiarise themselves with the importation procedures.

“It’s important that we know that things will work smoothly when a process is engaged and it also means that we need to make our processes more accessible and simplified, so there is work to do on both sides but we are getting it done,” she said.

Senator Johnson Smith said three-day staging of the conference has “far exceeded my expectations”.

She commended the Diaspora members “for making the effort to come here to Kingston and bringing with you your positive energy and your commitment to Jamaica.”

Among the outcomes of the conference include greater collaboration on health and education, such as the upgrading of hospitals, training of nurses, and building more schools.

Providing a summary of the conference, Executive Director, Jamaica Diaspora Institute (JDI), Professor Neville Ying, said information was provided on opportunities for investment, expertise and philanthropy in: health care, education, crime intervention and prevention, business process outsourcing, redevelopment of downtown Kingston, agriculture, medicinal marijuana, cultural and creative industries, small and medium-sized enterprises and tourism.

Noting that the Diaspora is a critical growth partner, he noted that the community contributes 23 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) “and if we go seriously at it, we can …increase that to 35 per cent of GDP.”

Professor Ying said “there are significant issues that Diaspora members face in their host countries, which Jamaica needs to work with them to help them solve such as the implications of Brexit, new immigration legislation in the United States of America and challenges related to social protection, health and pensions.”

The Diaspora conference was held under the theme: ‘Partnering for Growth’.

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