There is an estimated 3 million Jamaicans worldwide mainly located in the United States of America, United Kingdom and Canada. There are however resident populations in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe and the Middle East.
Jamaica has a well-developed institutional mechanisms with respect to Diaspora engagement. It has been recognised that the Diaspora can play an important role in development-related activities in our nation. It is for this reason that successive Governments have ensured that Diaspora matters remain at the core of Jamaica’s foreign and domestic policy. In an effort to deepen the relationship between Jamaica and Jamaicans abroad, the Diaspora Affairs Department was created in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade. We have also developed a number of initiatives and programmes to strengthen the synergistic partnership.
Networking through Biennial Conferences
Jamaicans overseas have remained committed, dedicated and passionate about their homeland. They continue to seek various opportunities to share their skills, expertise and innovative ideas with a view to building Jamaica. Multiple networks have been created following the 2013 and 2015 Biennial Diaspora Conferences that have effectively translated ideas into action.
Every two years, Jamaicans overseas and at home attend the Jamaica Diaspora Conferences convened through a public-private partnership which serves as a mechanism for structured engagement and interaction among the Diaspora, the Government of Jamaica, the Private Sector and Civil Society.
The Conferences have provided an excellent opportunity for dialogue on issues of special interest to the Diaspora as well as for exploring workable solutions. It has allowed the Government’s priorities and programmes and those of other stakeholders, including the private sector to be shared, eliciting public discourse and given wide publicity. In addition to creating a framework for the continued involvement of the Diaspora in diverse areas which range from education, health, research and development, social impact investments, sports, the creative industries, to technology transfer, Diaspora conferences have created a platform for the renewal of spirit and celebration of what is uniquely Jamaican.
Six biennial Conferences have been convened since 2004 which have evolved into dynamic, engaging results-driven events. The last two Conferences in 2013 and 2015 had a deliberate focus on trade and investment, inclusive of social enterprise investment.
Jamaica 55 Diaspora Conference
In 2017 the JAMAICA 55 Diaspora Conference will be held at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston from 23rd to 26th July to coincide with the celebration of the 55th year of Jamaica’s Independence. It will culminate with a Diaspora Day of Service on 27th July.
The Conference is being organised against the backdrop of the Government’s economic growth agenda and in that context, it will engage the Diaspora on the theme: ‘Partnering for Growth’. In addition to a very engaging conference agenda, to address critical development issues such as the economic growth agenda, workforce development, Diaspora partnerships in health care and education, among many other areas. There will be several other exciting activities such as Exposition of Products and Services specifically catering to overseas participants; Government At-Your-Service ‘One Stop Shop’ and panel discussions on topical issues.
The Day of Services is designed to assist communities and institutions through a range of projects. This year there is a special emphasis on health, education and social business enterprises. A list of projects will be made available shortly.
The Ministry looks forward to the attendance and active participation of a record number of Jamaicans overseas in this landmark Conference, which is aimed at providing each member of the Diaspora with a unique experience and opportunity to make a clearly defined contribution to the attainment of the development objectives of their homeland