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Speech
Minister of Youth & Culture, the Hon. Lisa Hanna.

Paris, November 8, 2013 – The Minister of Youth and Culture the Honourable Lisa Hanna, MP has given a brief outline of the work being done by the Ministry to advance culture and youth development in her statement at the 37th session of the UNESCO General Conference in Paris on Friday, November 8.

 

In her statement, Minister Hanna reported on, among other things:

  1. progress in improving the conditions for children including those in need of care and protection;
  2. progress in youth training, entrepreneurship and job placement;
  3. progress on cultural development including the establishment of the National Cultural Commission and action towards getting Reggae music inscribed on the Intangible Heritage List.

 

Minister Hannas full statement follows:

 

“Ministers, Excellencies, I bring you warm greetings from Jamaica and I address you in the prophetic spirit of our renowned cultural icon Bob Marley whose words still hold true – that there is so much trouble in the world. The UN was born out of the need to bring peace and end trouble. In Jamaica our culture was born out of struggle especially our music. As I said in the Leaders’ Forum, over the years, we have used our music for mobilisation and in most cases a call to action. A confident and sometimes unapologetic acceptance that we know the answer, a defiance in the face of great opposition as well as a bold resolve that no one can or should ever bludgeon our people or any people into acquiescence.

 

We are humbled that our culture has transcended language, colour and class with the philosophies of Marcus Garvey and Bob Marley. That is why all of us can sing one love or be motivated to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery. It reached into the heart of Usain Bolt who surprised some when he slapped his chest when he knew he broke the world record crossing the finish line in Beijing.

 

But this passionate confidence is not only present in Jamaicans.  It can be seen in millions of youth around the globe in different countries many of whom are having their own discussions on what they see as relevant and how they expect their leaders to satisfy their needs. Today, they are the real change catalysts, they are more tolerant and less suspicious of differences.  They use technology to make the world smaller and shape it in real time. I want to therefore, commend UNESCO for its recently concluded youth forum because if we miss the opportunity to make the connection with our youth we would have squandered our opportunities as leaders.

 

Therefore, Mr. President, I want to say resolutely that the Government of Jamaica supports UNESCO’s historical and continuing focus on social inclusion to build the social skills of our people; to build gender balance in our national development, eradicating illiteracy and poverty; and promote youth development, science and innovation, while respecting and protecting our climate and environment.

 

Mr. President I want to focus primarily on two of our several of priorities: youth development and culture.  We are committed to investing in our young people and improving the conditions for our children including those in need of care and protection by increasing budgetary allocations and working to have more of them stay with families and loving environments where possible. Youth make up 53% of our population. We just completed a national survey consultation with our youth which among other things is driving our youth policy and goals for the next five years. Coming out of these consultations we have implemented greater opportunities for youth entrepreneurship especially in the face of youth unemployment and the numbers of youth at risk. Since January of this year we have trained over 8500 young people for job placement and have created a new job internship programme for tertiary graduates through our National Youth Service.  This training will continue as we seek to make our youth more self-reliant.

 

Mr. President, we recognise that a post-2015 development agenda without a cultural component would be incomplete and indeed inconsistent with its role as a driver and enabler for development.

 

The High-Level Thematic Debate on Culture and Development at the United Nations in June 2013, as well as the Leaders’ Forum two days ago highlighted the centrality of culture in the global development agenda. Jamaica is a culture that has transcended to the four corners of the globe. We are committed to further enhancing Brand Jamaica utilising our dynamic culture as an economic platform for the prosperity of our people.  We have just created the National Cultural Commission led by the Prime Minister.  This is indicative of the country’s national priority and policy focus.  We are also revising the National Cultural Policy and creating a Cultural Industries framework for the enhancement of the economic contribution of culture and the creative industries to national development. We are pleased that we opened three new museums for our people this year with several more underway.

 

Allied to this, is the need for greater capacity building and collaboration among states and organisations with corridors for cultural dialogue for the implementation of the various cultural Conventions. We have several cultural partnerships with other countries.  I make special mention of the Japan Fund-in-Trust project on capacity building which was vital in assisting Caribbean States, including Jamaica, in safeguarding our intangible cultural heritage. Tangible support is critical to give greater force to the 2001 Convention to help the Caribbean and other regions better map their sites, protect them legally and benefit economically from them.

 

As Jamaica seeks to deepen its participation in the forums of UNESCO, we have humbly offered our candidature for membership on the World Heritage Committee.  We look forward to your support.

 

Jamaica does not have a World Heritage Site. We are currently undertaking preparatory work for the inscription of the Blue and John Crow Mountain National Park on the World Heritage List as a first step towards international recognition demonstrating the amazing story of the Jamaican people.  Work has also begun to inscribe Reggae Music on the Intangible Heritage List.

 

Mr. President, Jamaica acknowledges UNESCO’s role and distinctive contribution in addressing the unique vulnerabilities of small island developing states such as those in the Caribbean.  We welcome the priority status accorded to SIDS in UNESCO’s Medium Term Strategy 2008-2013.

 

We lament that the SIDS Intersectoral Platform appears threatened by the financial crisis facing the organisation.  We urge that appropriate measures be put in place to ensure the continued viability of the programme.

 

Mr. President, the output of our imagination and creativity will be the platforms on which the world will build its future generation of power. Regardless of who we are, where we come from and our size, our desires must be driven by the universal purpose grounded in empathy and love to be our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. It must supersede personal rancour, ridicule, intolerance and bitterness. We cannot pay our debts with blame or motivate each other with unwholesome values that persecute or harm the most vulnerable among us.  Our ability to reconstruct our future must first begin by reconstructing our own approaches, our dialogue and acceptance that we will need the force of togetherness to get the job done.

 

Mr. President, Your Excellences, Let us have One World, with one heart; let’s get together and do it right.

 

I end by renewing Jamaica’s unshakeable commitment and support for UNESCO to advance the progress of our community of nations and peoples.

 

Thank You.”