The 5th biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference got underway on Sunday, June 16, with a record 700 persons in attendance.
These include local and overseas delegates, speakers, exhibitors and journalists.
The record turnout is in keeping with the predictions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade that this year’s conference would be the biggest and best yet. Also, it is an endorsement of the efforts of the planning committee to transform the event, which has been re-calibrated, re-packaged and re-branded, with a change in the event logo, and intensified marketing.
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State Minister in the Ministry, Hon. Arnaldo Brown, in his remarks at the opening ceremony held at the Hilton Rose Hall hotel in Montego Bay, said there is no doubt that progress has been made since the first staging of the Diaspora conference in 2004.
He said the nation’s engagement with the Diaspora is becoming more refined and better suited to its purpose.
“With the increasing involvement of Jamaicans at home in projects initiated in the Diaspora, we are moving closer to the type of framework, which the experts agree is the essence of a vibrant and effective Diaspora/homeland partnership,” he stated.
Mr. Brown said that having attended Diaspora conferences in other countries, and having analysed other homeland/Diaspora partnerships, he is of the view that Jamaica has all the essential elements for an extremely successful partnership with its Diaspora.
He expressed the view that the time is ripe to provide more support to all aspects of the Diaspora organisation, including an implementation process for recommendations put forward at the conference.
“For this purpose, we propose to establish the Diaspora implementation council, post conference,” he informed.
Mr. Brown stated that this “purposeful collaboration” will not make Jamaica a place that people will admire significantly more than they do now, but it will also make Jamaicans everywhere proud, while leaving a legacy for future generations.
This year’s conference, which is being held under the theme: ‘A Nation on a mission: Jamaica – Diaspora Partnership for Development’, seeks to build on the legacy of Jamaica50, by exploring defined opportunities for the Diaspora to expand their business interest in Jamaica through increased trade and investment, large and small. It is particularly focused on trade and investment, as well as broadening the Diaspora’s contribution to health and education.
Member of Parliament for East Central St. James, Edmund Bartlett, who represented the Leader of the Opposition, Andrew Holness at the opening ceremony, said that he believes the caucus is timely, as there is a need for “all hands to be on deck, and every shoulder to be put to the wheel”.
“We must endeavor to harness the efforts of stakeholders near and far, forge enduring partnerships and build consensus, as we pursue actions in the present that will further propel our nation towards prosperity and the economic independence we desire,” he stated.
Contact: Bryan Miller