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Webinar with Jamaica’s ‘brilliant minds’ reveals importance of speaking Codex language

08/11/2019

Understanding Codex for a member country or observer organization also means being able to use the online systems that manage the standard setting process. If you are unable to take part in electronic working groups or post your national position via comments online then your voice will not be heard, and you will not learn the views of others. The Codex Secretariat has held training sessions in different regions and regularly showcases Codex online tools at the Commission and during technical committees. Webinars for individual countries tailored to users’ requests have also proved popular and invaluable for those delegations who are not always able to attend Codex events.

Jamaica arranged a webinar in October 2019 and Suzan McLennon Miguel and Earle Stewart from the Jamaican National Codex Committee told us what they thought.

Q. Tell us first of all about your experience with Codex.

Suzan - When I started in Codex last year, I was wondering what Codex was all about. Then I went to CAC41 and CAC42 and saw there are many projects taking place to strengthen food safety and trade.

However, when I returned home, I felt I was the only one who shared the excitement for Codex. I think we need more web trainings on how to use the Codex website. There is a wealth of knowledge there and most countries are not using it properly.

Q. How did participants find the web training?

Suzan - The training was well received by all participants who are members of the National Codex Committee, secretariat, chairs and members of the mirror committees. They thought the training was timely and well presented. A member from the industry stated that she appreciated the interactive approach which made it more meaningful. The chairs from the mirror committees were excited to see the different tools available on the Codex website and ideas of how to use the website in stakeholder forums, industry meetings or further training were being discussed by the end of the training. One of the chairs from the mirror committee said she was invigorated from the training and eager to engage in Codex activities.

Webinar training Jamaica

Earle Stewart and Suzan McLennon Miguel from the Jamaican National Codex Committee

This type of training should be an annual event as Codex committee members may change throughout the year. The knowledge gained clearly highlighted the value Codex places on each country’s input. There is also the deep interest in the progress of each country in their development and maintenance of a Codex infrastructure.

Codex, a wonderful opportunity – more than just a line in a budget.

Q. Why do you think it is important to speak the language of Codex?

Earle – Well, like with any language, if you speak it around others who speak it, you foster a greater connection. I mean the language of Codex is food safety backed by scientific data. Jamaica has some of the most brilliant minds and I think Codex provides a wonderful opportunity for them to share an experience that will stimulate intellectual development and showcase our abilities outside of athletics.

Q. What more needs to be done from all sides to ensure participation in Codex?

Earle - Our number one problem is funding because we are still struggling to have people at the upper echelon of the public sector understand how important Codex is. Because of this there is no real allocation for Codex work. There is no office, no infrastructure and no human resources dedicated solely to the work of Codex. Those higher up in the chain have to fully understand Codex is very important and requires attention and support and is more than just a line in the budget.

What’s next for Codex Jamaica?

Suzan and Earle agree they now need to utilize the Codex web pages and strengthen their involvement in regional activities. They are hoping to apply for the Codex Trust Fund but would first have to conduct an assessment which would be the next project to get support for in order to identify the gaps in their food safety control system and strengthen Codex nationally. Political buy-in is essential to establish Codex within institutions or to gain legal standing, to designate an administrator and even to handle daily Codex activities.

Top tips for a Codex tools webinar

Follow the link. Plan ahead. The Codex Secretariat will share some useful links with participants to familiarize them with the tools ahead of the training sessions. Make sure you do your homework.

Raise your hand. There are no mistakes during a webinar. Write down any question or doubts you may have. Specific questions can be sent to the Secretariat before or after the event.

Share your feedback. There is always room for improvement. Send your feedback to the Secretariat in case you want to further comment on your webinar experience.

 

Requests for webinars are always welcome by the Codex Secretariat. Send an email to codex@fao.org.