Jamaicans are being encouraged to participate in a major islandwide tree-planting exercise on Labour Day, May 23, in keeping with the focus of this year’s observance.
Activities marking Labour Day and Workers’ Week, 2023, under the theme ‘Plant a Tree for Life – Promoting Climate Change Mitigation, Food Security and Road Safety’, were launched at the Office of the Prime Minister on Tuesday (May 2).
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, and several other key Ministers of Government provided details on slated engagements.
“On Labour Day, we will mobilise the nation in one action that we can all participate in, regardless of our circumstances. That is, we can all plant a tree,” Mr. Holness stated.
He announced that the national project will be the planting of 10,000 trees on Highway 2000, in the vicinity of Hartlands.
Additionally, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries will be providing 15,000 assorted fruit seedlings to be distributed by all the parish offices of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and National Irrigation Commission (NIC).
Prime Minister Holness said this year’s focus was consequent on the fact that all aspects of life, including labour, are affected by climate change.
“It is one of the greatest challenges of our time, and small island states, like Jamaica, are at the frontlines bearing the brunt of the climate crisis,” he noted.
Mr. Holness said Jamaica can reduce the harmful effects of climate change by taking effective action to protect the environment, adding that the labour day activities will highlight the importance of citizen mobilisation in responsible stewardship of the environment.
He further reasoned that tree planting is an “effective and accessible way” of enhancing the environment and combatting climate change.
The Forestry Department’s National tree-planting initiative, which began in 2019 with a goal of planting three million trees in three years, slowed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the Prime Minister advised that the undertaking has, so far, reached 2.5 million trees.
Mr. Holness expressed the hope that Labour Day 2023 will help to position the nation closer to its goal.
He also informed that a ‘Parish Tree Initiative’, targetting the planting of trees that are popular or endemic to the respective parishes, will feature on Labour Day, onwards.
Labour Day 2023 will also focus on road safety, which is highlighted as another important element of sustainable development.
The Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport will spearhead the planning and administration of Labour Day and Workers’ Week in tandem with other Ministries.
These include the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, which will lead the programme of activities for Workers’ Week, from May 14 to 23.
The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has been tasked with mobilising the participation of Municipal Corporations islandwide; the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries will ensure the provision of kits for backyard gardens and green houses in homes and schools, among other places; and the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation will lead the national tree-planting exercise on Labour Day.
All other Ministries will be mobilised to support the effort, particularly ensuring the planting of trees at premises under their jurisdiction.
Jamaicans are also being encouraged to start or refresh their backyard gardens and have their projects registered with the National Labour Day Secretariat.
The Jamaica Information Service (JIS) will host the online registration of projects on their website, www.jis.gov.jm, and will collate and publish regular updates on project registration during Workers’ Week, prior to Labour Day.
As is customary, Labour Day activities will end with a national concert that will take the form of a praise and worship gospel concert at Emancipation Park this year, from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.