Public Lecture Series

2020 GraceKennedy Foundation Lecture

This year’s lecture is being presented in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) which is the lead UN agency on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The lecture will be delivered by Dr Margaret Jones Williams, the UNDP Deputy Resident Representative for Suriname, who will be presenting virtually from her base in Paramaribo on the topic The Decade of Action Begins. The Sustainable Development Goals Leaving No One Behind.

The lecture will explore the adoption of the SDGs, the progress to date and the global challenges such as COVID-19, climate change and natural disasters that have already eroded the development gains. It will focus on the Small Island Developing States in the Caribbean region, which despite middle-income status and moderate to high human development indices, still experience relatively poor economic growth, high adverse impacts from natural disasters, rising crime and gender-inequity.

The SDGs were adopted by all UN Member States in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.


A project of the GraceKennedy Foundation that has become highly regarded and which has impacted nationally is the annual public lecture series.

Since 1989, the Foundation has invited a person of distinction to lecture on a subject of political, economic or social concern to Jamaica and the Caribbean. It is the aim of the Foundation that the lecture should initiate public debate and commentary at all levels of society. To further facilitate this process the lecture is published and circulated to institutions and individuals.

Several of the lectures have become important sources for reference in their fields. A number have been assigned as texts at both the University of the West Indies and the University of Technology. Two titles have been in constant demand by schools and the general public and have had to be reprinted. These are Elsa Leo-Rhynie’s The Jamaican Family: Continuity and Change and Don Robotham’s Vision and Volunteerism.

Previous Lectures

Below is a list of topics of past lectures. Simply click on the lecture titles to access the online version in PDF format.