Letters & Opinion

Reach Out To The Diaspora

img: The six OECS, 15 CARICOM and 12 Commonwealth Caribbean member-states will be expected to come out of the current 37th CARICOM Summit, under way in Guyana, with plans to address the expected Brexit Caribbean blowout, which offers both challenges and opportunities for new relationships with Britain and the EU.

I WAS very pleased to read reference to our Diaspora made by our distinguished Senator Adrian Augier.

For many years, as Dean of the Caribbean Diplomatic Corps, I have participated in conferences on Global Diaspora Affairs in Washington DC. Of particular reference was the George Washington International series, where countries exchanged their experiences – their successes and frustrations.

Of particular reference was the problem of mobilisation of the enormous potential of qualified Diaspora professionals serving in more developed countries and the absence of a structured mechanism to absorb that potential.

As Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, I was invited to many Jamaica Diaspora consultations and I was pleased that the government and opposition leaders in that country firmly agreed to a commitment towards the mobilisation of Diaspora resources regardless of political affiliation.

I am pleased to report on a 361-page Executive Conference Report of the Jamaica Diaspora 2017 conference, which was held in Jamaica on July23-26 in Kingston, celebrating the 55th year of independence under the theme ‘Partnering for Growth’.

The conference was attended by 1,341 persons with 239 from the Diaspora and was designed around three thematic areas: Human Resources as Key Drivers of Economic Growth – Building, Caring and Protecting Human Capital; Diaspora Investments for Supporting Jamaica’s Growth Agenda and Creative Strategies for Sustaining Economic Growth, Job Creation and Employment.

Among the conference objectives were:
* To deliver an exciting energising and invigorating programme that will facilitate the sharing of information and constructive dialogue around national imperatives
* Highlight initiatives for growing and sustaining the contribution of the Diaspora to Jamaica’s Growth Agenda
* Facilitate dialogue between young people in Jamaica and those in Diaspora locations
* Identify actions aimed at providing solutions for socio-economic problems
* ensure that the conference outcomes are specific, actionable and implementable

Various awards were given to persons for their outstanding services and there were various focal discussions on Diaspora involvement in economic growth and social development, partnership for development, private sector products in the marketplace and global youth strategies for more effective engagement of second and third generation members.

The major actionable outcomes were summarised under the following headings: Education, health (notably the support for the establishment of 55 health clinics), crime intervention and prevention, facilitation for Diaspora contributions in culture, creative industries, finance and youth leadership and the involvement of second, third and fourth generation Diaspora members in national development and awareness.

As we plan for the celebration of St Lucia’s 40th Anniversary of Independence next year, we need to mobilize our political representatives, and our Diaspora for national development regardless of political affiliation.
Members of our public and private sectors, service clubs, and overseas associations must be made to play a part.

Dr. Edsel Edmunds, OBE
Former Ambassador of St Lucia to
The UN, OAS and US and former member of The Executive Board of UNESCO

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