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Diaspora conference vows to be more than a 'talking shop'

BUILDING PATHWAYS: Minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade Kamina Johnson Smith addresses attendees at the Official Launch of the eight biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference held on Tuesday, April 2

FOREIGN AFFAIRS and foreign trade minister, senator Kamina Johnson Smith, says the upcoming Eighth Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference is expected to generate tangible outcomes that are implementable.

This assurance is against the background of what she notes are concerns from some stakeholders, who describe the conference as a “talking shop”.

“It [has been] my intention, [since] I became minister with responsibility for the diaspora, that we would change that and ensure that our conferences have direct outcomes which are implementable and specific” the minister said.

Johnson Smith further indicated that “we will be reporting on results of the last [conference in 2017, in terms of] where we would have slipped and succeeded, and also looking at how we take these conference outcomes forward, in an actionable way”.

She was speaking with JIS News following the 2019 conference’s launch at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston, last week.

The event is slated for June 16 to 20 at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston, under the theme – ‘Jamaica and the Diaspora: Building Pathways for Sustainable Development’.

LAUNCH: Johnson Smith delivers the keynote presentation

Meanwhile, Johnson Smith advised that the Ministry and its legacy partners are working to ensure that this year’s conference is “one of the best ever”.

“The ministry’s team is ready and the legacy partners are ready. We have more sponsors coming on board and everybody is very energised,” she further indicated.

Johnson-Smith also informed that there will be a conference launch in New York on Tuesday, April 9, at the office of the Consulate General of Jamaica, beginning at 6pm.

Additionally, she said a focus group meeting on the draft National Diaspora Policy, will be held with a broad cross-section of Jamaicans living in New York.

“We do intend that one of the significant outcomes of the conference is to finalise the consultations, so that we have a policy that’s ready for presentation to cabinet and tabling in parliament,” she said.

The minister further advised that similar launches are slated for Miami and Toronto.

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