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Archive for June, 2013

A key focus of discussions and deliberations during this year’s fifth staging of the Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference, from June 16 to 19, in Montego Bay, St. James, will be the country’s long-term National Development Plan — Vision 2030 Jamaica.

The plan seeks to position Jamaica to attain developed country status by 2030 and in the process, make it ‘the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business’.

This will complement the Conference theme: ‘The Diaspora: Partnership for Development’, with trade, development, investment, and the Diaspora’s role through partnership being the overarching focus.

Against this background, the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) will be seeking to further deepen dialogue with Diaspora representatives at the conference through the Vision 2030 Jamaica Secretariat; Population and Health Unit; Migration Policy Project Unit; and Community Renewal Programme.

Chief of these activities is the integrated booth which each Unit will combine to mount in the Marketplace. This will centre on Vision 2030 Jamaica and two of the key elements for realising the national vision: community renewal; and development of a National Policy and Plan of Action on International Migration and Development as well as a Diaspora Policy.

PIOJ representatives will also participate in several panel discussions and make a number of presentations over the three days.

Vision 2030 Jamaica Programme Director, Richard Lumsden, notes that “the Conference is structured around the priorities for development”.

Richard Lumsden
Vision 2030 Jamaica Programme Director

He said there will be discussions around the areas of strategic investment in logistics; information and communication technology; tourism; the creative industries; developments in the social sector, health and education among others.

He added that the discussions are expected to explore how to effectively deepen the partnership between Jamaica and the Diaspora, “drawing on the lessons from other countries such as Israel and Ireland”.

One special area of focus this year will be engagements at the community level. Lumsden explained that members of the Diaspora are inclined to have “enduring connections” with their hometowns, communities, and districts. “They have often expressed, certainly with us, an interest in engaging in projects in specific areas of the country,” he said.

To this end, a number of field trips are being scheduled for Diaspora members following the conference’s conclusion on June 19, during which they will visit projects in several communities.

“That (community interest) was part of the rationale for the Community Renewal Programme being such a prominent component of this year’s engagements. That (community engagement) is one of the (new) areas that we see an interest in,” he advises.

The Community Renewal Programme seeks to promote interventions aimed at building capacity for self empowerment at the individual and community levels in the targeted areas, deemed marginalised.

Regarding efforts to heighten the Diaspora’s overall awareness about Vision 2030 Jamaica outside of the biennial conferences, Lumsden said the secretariat has endeavoured to provide information through collaborations with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade to representatives through Consular offices globally.

“We have (also) engaged in ‘one-on-one’ discussions with members….(and) actually travelled (on one occasion), at the invitation of (members of) the Canadian Diaspora, to Toronto and made a presentation at one of their events there,” he added.

Noting the extent of the PIOJ’s input in assisting to plan and organise the Conference, Lumsden says the Vision 2030 Jamaica Secretariat and the Population Unit have been engaged, “over the past several months”, in the preparatory work, led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.

Additionally, he said the Migration Policy Project Unit has engaged in developing the new Migration and Development Policy, which is also scheduled to be discussed, while also having an input in commencing work to draft a Diaspora and Development Policy.

Lumsden also said the conference was aiming to generate an action plan for implementation, during the two-year period preceding the next meeting, to further strengthen the partnership between Jamaica and its Diaspora.

Read the original article on the Jamaica Observer.
 

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Members of the delegation: (left to right) Derrick Snowdy and Marc Kealey of Kealey & Associates Inc., Canadian High Commissioner, Robert Ready, Jamaica’s Consul General to Canada, George Ramocan, and Chairman of the Hitachi Power Systems Canada, Ltd, Howard Shearer.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller (3rd right) is seen here with a Canadian delegation that accompanied former Canadian Prime Minister, John Turner (seated) for a meeting on Monday (June 10) at Jamaica House.

Mr Turner told the Prime Minister that Canada stands ready to assist Jamaica with its response to natural disasters and is in the process of organizing a response team. Mrs Simpson Miller in expressing appreciation for this initiative noted that it will strengthen the long standing relations between both countries. She added that Jamaica is taking disaster preparedness seriously ahead of what is predicted to be a very active Hurricane Season.

Background: The former Prime Minister has agreed to serve as patron to the Jamaican Canadian initiative for Disaster Resilience and Response (JCIDRR), a project of the Consulate of Jamaica, Toronto, which seeks to support Jamaica’s objective to develop its capacity against natural and man-made disasters. The visit is in keeping with the beginning of the 2013 Hurricane Season and will help to heighten the importance of the country’s preparedness.

- Marc Kealey
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HONORARY CHAIR and patron of the Jamaican Canadian Initiative for Disaster Resilience and Response (JCIDRR), former Canadian Prime Minister John Turner, says Jamaicans and Canadians alike are being mobilised to assist the country in the event of a natural disaster.

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Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter – The Gleaner

The JCIDRR is an organisation established to assist the development of Jamaica’s capacity for disaster resilience and response to minimise the effects of natural disasters.

Turner, who, on Monday, met with Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller in Kingston, said the organisation is committed to putting in place expertise and financial support to “equip Jamaica with an up-to-date counter-reaction to disaster and avoid the type of situation that Haiti has gone though in the last several years”.

Turner was among several stakeholders who were guests at a Gleaner Editors’ Forum held at the company’s North Street offices on Monday.

“I undertook this role because I wanted to advance the cause of Canadian-Jamaican friendship and the process of shaping a process to anticipate and deal with tragedies such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and other natural disasters that Jamaica and other Caribbean countries face because of geography,” Turner said.

He said the JCIDRR has the support of Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper.

George Ramocan, Jamaica’s Consul General to Toronto, who played a key role in forming the organisation, said the manner in which response effort was handled in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake brought home the need for a coordinated response to disasters.

“I am aware of the sort of waste and duplication that occurred. Persons were passionate and sincere about helping, but because of the urgency, the disorganisation, the lack of communication, you find that much that was intended to happen for Haiti did not happen,” Ramocan said.

Ramocan told the Editors’ Forum that the JCIDRR would be partnering with the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management to respond to disasters.

engage private sector

Howard Shearer, who is the chairman of Hitachi Canada, and a key player in the JCIDRR, said a critical part of disaster mitigation is the engagement of the private sector.

Shearer noted that the private sector did not only exist to make money, but it also has a sense of social responsibility, which must be encouraged. He said that in engaging private sector interest in Canada, through the JCIDRR, to invest in Jamaica, would redound to the benefit of the country’s disaster resilience building.

“Disaster mitigation and resilience is in the self-interest of the private sector,” Shearer argued.

“They have the assets on the ground, they have the critical infrastructure, they know how to execute, they know where the equipment is, they have the contacts globally, they have the logistics,” Shearer said.

Shearer, whose father, Hugh Shearer, was prime minister of Jamaica, stressed that the engagement of the private sector for disaster mitigation would in no way undermine the role of Government.

Read the original article on the Jamaica Gleaner.
 

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FORMER HEAD of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Dr Barbara Carby, says the media must do more to assist the process of disaster mitigation.

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Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter – The Gleaner

Speaking at a Gleaner Editors’ Forum on Monday, Carby said the media have not been persistent in pushing the issue of the need for a revised building code.

“I am very disappointed with the media in general. You have no problem in donating square metres of column space to other issues, but surely, the matter of the national building code should be at the front of the agenda at some point,” Carby said.

The existing legislative framework for the regulation of building activities in the island is outdated and experts say it impedes effective regulation and development of a modem building sector.

“The development of a modem legislative framework is particularly urgent and relevant in view of the need to reduce the vulnerability of the built environment and ensure public safety and welfare, minimise damage caused by natural or man-made hazards, prevent squatter settlements, and promote sustainable development,” the Memorandum of Objects and Reason of a 2011 bill to enact a building code said.

The bill fell off the order paper and has not yet made it back to Parliament.

stakeholders carrying fight

Carby is adamant that stakeholders, with the exception of the media, have been carrying the fight for the revised code.

“The engineers have done their bit; the disaster risk-reduction people have done their bit,” she said.

“You need to start pushing this thing seriously,” Carby continued, adding that she was in danger of dying before the building code was enacted.

Jamaica does not have a mandatory up-to-date building code. The current code was enacted in 1908, and an updated code published in 1983 as a policy document is not enforceable by law.

Marc Kealey, assistant to former Canadian Prime Minister John Turner, said the Jamaican Canadian Initiative for Disaster Resilience and Response (JCIDRR) presents an opportunity for Jamaica to deal with issues such as the building code.

Howard Shearer, chairman of Hitachi Canada, and a key player in JCIDRR, said the organisation would be utilising the goodwill that exists in Canada for Jamaica. He said that among the aims is to mobilise investment in Jamaica and build the country’s disaster resilience capacity.

“We have to focus our efforts and focus our leaders and bring the community together because the end result is saving lives,” Shearer said.

Read the original article on the Jamaica Gleaner.
 

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