Wed | Feb 26, 2020

Ja must tap into potential of diaspora - Charles Jr

Published:Thursday | October 11, 2018 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Charles Jr

State Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Pearnel Charles Jr says Jamaica should find strategic ways of leveraging the untapped potential of its diaspora.

He told the country's diplomats gathered in Kingston for the 2018 Executive Management and Heads of Missions Conference that the Government intends to build a robust diaspora-engagement strategy and architecture that would strengthen and broaden Jamaica's relationship with all its nationals worldwide.

"Countries such as ours must articulate a clear strategy to leverage this still largely untapped potential. I hasten to add that the strategy cannot only be a one-way street," said Charles.

He said that the strategies must be based on the principles of mutuality, inclusiveness, participation, trust, communication, and accountability.

According to Charles, international migration is now viewed as a dynamic process of growth, advancement, and progress.

He said that migration, therefore, has the potential to empower migrants and advance their capacities.

"It is within that context that diasporas bear relevance. There is increasing recognition that diasporas are key actors on the international stage, and, therefore, for developing countries such as Jamaica, it is even more critical, given that we are both a sending and receiving state.

"Given their spheres of influence, they wield authority in corridors of power in their adopted countries, which, if capitalised, can be of tremendous benefit to their countries of origin," Charles said.


National Diaspora Policy drafted


Pearnel Charles Jr, state minister for foreign affairs and foreign trade, says that the National Diaspora Policy linked to the four core goals of Vision 2030 was drafted to set the framework for the partnership between Jamaica and the diaspora.

"We are in the process of reviewing and updating the comprehensive policy document with which most of you should be familiar. This exercise is projected to be completed by end of December," Charles said.

He told the conference that the Government is in the process of undertaking another round of consultation before the policy goes before Cabinet.

"We are now at a point where we must take stock of all our current plans for diaspora inclusion in national development."

According to the state minister, countries such as India, Ireland, Mexico, Chile, Israel, New Zealand, and the Philippines have very elaborate and developed diaspora engagement plans and policies.

"We can use their established methods to create a robust, vibrant, and powerful link of our own doing to help in the development of Jamaica," Charles noted.

Some of the strategies the Government will employ in realising the desired outcomes include communication, building out partnerships and networks, welfare (Immigrant Support Programme), youth engagement, and architecture.