JIS News

WASHINGTON DC – The Embassy of Jamaica in Washington has heightened preparatory activities in support of the upcoming fifth biennial Diaspora conference.

On Wednesday (May 22), Ambassador Stephen Vasciannie, along with Embassy staff, met with leaders of major organisations and philanthropic groups, in a consultative forum, to solicit input aimed at shaping the conference agenda.

The interaction was primarily to familiarise participants with the draft agenda of the conference and to invite the community to provide its own perspective on how the discussions at the forum could serve to encourage greater levels of support from Jamaicans abroad, as well as investment in the process of nation building.

In addressing the gathering, Ambassador Vasciannie noted that the conference is designed to reach out to the Diaspora community, not only in the US, but in the United Kingdom (UK), and Canada as well.

“Our goal is to incorporate them into Government’s national development agenda and to determine a feasible mechanism through which their contribution towards national development can be facilitated,” he stated.

Ambassador Vasciannie mentioned that the conference also attempts to harmonize several initiatives currently being undertaken by groups in the three countries to assist the island.

“As you know, many of our citizens abroad have consistently lent their skills and capital in various areas, such as health and education. The problem, however, is that these efforts have been largely executed on an ad hoc basis,” he pointed out.

“This is an attempt by the Government to apprise our nationals overseas of the policy objectives of the Government and to create a framework within which the assistance that they provide on a voluntary basis, can be rendered in a manner that is more consistent with the Government’s approach, and therefore yield greater efficiencies to the nation,” he added.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon. Arnaldo Brown, who addressed the meeting via a conference call, said the upcoming conference seeks to build on the legacy of ‘Jamaica 50’ celebrations by exploring and defining opportunities for the Diaspora to expand their business interests in Jamaica, through increased trade and investments.

He added that both large and small participants will engage in discussions about ways to expand social partnerships and facilitate the Diaspora’s contributions to health and education in Jamaica, both as individuals and organisations.

He informed that the conference will bring together, a diverse group of Jamaicans in an effort to facilitate and broaden the Diaspora’s engagement and involvement in the affairs of the country of their birth.

The State Minister pointed out that attendees to the conference will be provided with updates on major trade and investment opportunities and urged them to attend the conference, as more detailed information will be provided on how the Government is addressing various issues affecting the country.

Diaspora Board representative for the North East USA, Irwin Claire, also addressed the community leaders.

Members of the community organisations present at the consultations were optimistic about the conference’s overall prospects and its ability to provide a forum for meaningful dialogue among Jamaicans living overseas, the Jamaican government, private sector and civil society.

The Diaspora Conference, themed: “A Nation on a Mission – Jamaica Diaspora Partnership for Development”, will be staged at the Montego Bay Conference Centre from June 16 to 19.

It will involve hundreds of participants representing several Jamaican organisations, as well as professional and business interests drawn from communities in Jamaica, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States.


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