Greetings from Jamaica, the land of the fastest human alive on planet earth. Today we celebrate history. We have witnessed the election of our first female Director-General and for the first time the Caribbean presides at the General Conference. As a fellow Caribbean State, I congratulate my colleague from The Bahamas. I also congratulate the Director-General designate for having shattered the proverbial glass ceiling. This is a true testament to UNESCO’s pursuit of gender equality at the highest level.
We thank and recognize the outgoing Director-General for his contribution and commitment to UNESCO’s ideals.
As we consider the adoption of a budget for the next biennium, we must recognize in a tangible way, and within this climate, the critical role of UNESCO in fulfilling its mandate. As Member States, we therefore must fulfill our obligations in providing the budgetary and extra-budgetary support which will allow UNESCO to achieve its targets and goals as outlined in the Medium Term Strategy.
Colleagues, I recognize that you’re here because you care. However, we must all recognize that it takes cash to care. We must strengthen action that will address the vulnerable globally; and in particular, Small Island Developing States in their totality. Some of the areas include:
1. Social intervention focusing on the particular needs of each region. For example, in the Caribbean where our boys are at risk in so many ways.
2. Intensifying our efforts in achieving universal primary education by 2015 and the elimination of gender disparity.
3. Environmental sustainability and move quickly in the drafting of a Declaration on Ethical principles on climate change.
4. The fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
5. Supporting youth development programmes geared towards social inclusion.
6. The importance of culture and the creative industries in wealth creation and poverty alleviation.
7. The strategic role of ICTs in the creation of a knowledge based society and the importance of access to information.
Notwithstanding the economic challenges, we in Jamaica are playing our part towards achieving the MDGs. We have intensified our efforts in providing access to quality education through improved infrastructure, removal of school fees, ensuring compulsory attendance, proper nutrition and educational material, the increase of highly trained teachers, and accountability for literacy.
Social, Human and Natural Sciences
In the area of the sciences, Jamaica has now established a National Bioethics Committee and is actively engaged in the deliberations pertaining to human cloning and international governance.
We applaud the IOC’s promotion of the sustainable management of freshwater, ocean and terrestrial resources as well as disaster preparedness and mitigation, and welcome the steps taken towards the creation of tsunami early warning systems in the region. Sport and Culture
We were pleased to have hosted the 2008 UNESCO International Congress on Sport for Development and Peace. Jamaica has been blessed with excellent sportsmen, sportswomen and internationally renowned cultural icons that have left and continue to leave their indelible marks on the pages of history. The world is in awe at the record-breaking achievement of Usain Bolt, our triple Olympic gold medalist and triple world record holder. We are equally proud that we boast some of the fastest women in the world. UNESCO, in recognizing these achievements, has awarded Usain Bolt and Veronica Campbell-Brown, five time Olympic medalist, as UNESCO Champions for Sport. Next Tuesday, Veronica will visit UNESCO’s Headquarters here in Paris, to receive this prestigious award.
Jamaica gave the world a new religion in Rastafari, one of our strongest intangible cultural expressions. We also gave the world reggae music which has penetrated all corners of the world and an international cultural icon in the personality of Bob Marley, creator of the Song of the Millennium, One Love. Jamaica’s greatest resource still remains its people, their creativity, perseverance and spirit. We remain deeply committed to the protection and preservation of our cultural heritage and the building of cultural industries. Consequently, we have nominated three sites to the World Heritage Tentative List and are satisfied with the consensus concerning preferential treatment for developing countries in the Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. Our underwater cultural heritage is not only important because of the material treasures that lie at the bottom of the ocean, but it cradles the remains of our ancestors who were forcefully taken from the continent of Africa, but did not make the shores of Jamaica.
I reiterate Jamaica’s commitment to the principles, values, ideals and overarching objectives of UNESCO to which member states have all subscribed. Jamaica gives its full support and cooperation to the incoming D-G, as we all work together towards sustained social and economic development. I thank you Mr. President.

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