Statement to the World Heritage Committee
Honourable Lisa Hanna, MP
Minister of Youth and Culture
Bonn, Germany, July 2015
Madam Chair, Colleagues I speak on behalf of the Government and people of Jamaica in humbly expressing our gratitude to the World Heritage Committee for its decision to inscribe the Blue and John Crow Mountains to the World Heritage List. This inscription represents the first World Heritage site for Jamaica and the first mixed site for the Caribbean sub-region.
This has been quite a journey for us as a country. The experience has taught us many things, and among them, we have learnt to appreciate our distinctive natural and cultural heritage even more. You see Madam Chairman There is a natural mystic that belies who we are as a county and as a people. A small nation with unabashed resolve and courage giving to the world the King of Reggae Music Bob Marley, jerk chicken, and the fastest Man and woman on land; Usain Bolt and Shelly Ann Frazer Pryce. Our history, in particular, the struggles and defiance of our Maroon People helped to mould us into being distinctly Jamaican.
To this end, we want the world to not only drink our outstanding Blue Mountain Coffee but to see the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the Blue and John Crow Mountains, a site that the world can embrace as its own, exhibiting the natural and cultural values that will give an understanding of our “Jamaicaness.”
We respect the World Heritage Committee and recommit our obligations to uphold the tenets on which the World Heritage Convention was developed. We will ensure that the OUV, the integrity and the authenticity of this site are maintained, not only for Jamaica and Jamaicans, but for peoples of the world.
We are equally conscious that maintaining a site such as this one requires additional financial resources and management. My Government understands, and appreciates this and, we have given the assurances for these requirements to be in place. That said I wish to emphasize the legal protection of the property that is already in place to ensure among other issues that no mining, prospecting licenses and/or operations will be permitted within the nominated area. The Ministries of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining and Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change and Tourism are working with my Ministry to ensure that these commitments are maintained. The fact is that we are aware and again extremely humbled that as the first mixed site in the region much is expected from us.
Madam Chair, I am heartened by the Strategic Objectives of the World Heritage Convention, the Five “Cs” that have guided this convention and to which we have been held accountable as unofficial custodians of our respective heritages and those of the world in general. We are especially appreciative of UNESCO’s push to enhance the role of Communities in the implementation of the World Heritage Convention and specifically their presence and participation in the management of World Heritage sites. Our communities are at the heart of everything we do as a country. It is for this reason Madam Chair that I ask for your indulgence in allowing the floor to Colonel Wallace Sterling, Maroon Chief in Moore Town, one of our indigenous communities located in the site.
In closing, please allow me a moment to express my sincerest thanks to our friends and colleagues who have been nothing less than supportive and encouraging throughout this process. First, to the members of the World Heritage Committee, past and present; to the staff of the World Heritage Centre headed by Mr. Kishore Rao. Mr. Rao, You have been the gentle giant in settings such as this, motivator to many in a process that can be arduous. My heartfelt thanks to the Advisory bodies, ICOMOS and IUCN for their professional oversight of the evaluation process, their patience and general guidance provided to our technical team.
I must express our gratitude to Governments and people of Latin America and the Caribbean who have supported Jamaica in building its presence in World Heritage. Finally, to our Jamaican technical team that led this process from Ministry of Youth and Culture and our agencies. Deborah Kay Palmer, Dorrick Gray, Susan Otuokon, Selvenious Walters, Bernard Jankee,Carla Gordon, Marlon Beale, Tracy Commock, Thera Edwards, Colonel Wallace Sterling, Colonel Frank Lumsden, Janice Lindsay and my PS, Mrs. Sherrill O’Reggio Angus and Amb. Vilma McNish. To all other stakeholders within and outside Jamaica… Thank you for getting us here.
Madame Chair we will remain resolute as members of the World Heritage Committee to uphold the tenets of the Convention and to serve the interests of Small Island Developing States in World Heritage.
Thank you once again and we look forward to your company on July 5 as we proudly present to you the natural and cultural heritage of Jamaica and Caribbean SIDS.