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Panama: Taking Firm Steps Towards Sustainable Environmental Development

by Arlinda Arizi - 20 January, 2022, 12:00 684 Views 0 Comment

Panama is a country with abundant and exuberant nature, with tropical ecosystems of high biological diversity. It is worth mentioning that more than 40% of the land and marine surface of the national territory has been declared as a protected zone, which are important carbon sinks that allow Panama to stabilize its emissions and become a carbon negative country (Source: The Second Biennial Update Report BUR2).

In the first part of the article “Panama Leading by Example on Climate Change”, H.E. Yasiel Burillo, Ambassador and Consul General of Panama in India expanded on the valuable actions, achievements and leadership on the international front that Panama has demonstrated in mitigating the effects of Climate Change. Panama continues to move positively on this front and we are pleased to share such actions in this article to spread awareness of climate change.

Panama with the joint effort of its environmental conservation policies and strategies, has positioned its leadership as a valid interlocutor in the international green agenda.

As part of the fulfilment of sustainable development commitments, our country has adopted progressive structural changes for the transformation of the economic model towards one that is innovative, low-carbon and resilient to climate change.

Sustainable Tourism

In Panama, we understand that the reality we live in demands new models of tourism that allow us to move towards the future in a sustainable manner. Sustainable tourism is a holistic type of tourism that includes environmental, socio-cultural, economic and political aspects.

Panama has a Master Plan for Sustainable Tourism 2020-2025, highlighted by UNESCO for its innovative vision on how to address sustainable tourism for the future.  It is worth mentioning that the strategic heart of the plan is the strategy of Tourism, Conservation and Research, where local communities have also been integrated into the center of the model, valuing the country’s conservation and sustainability efforts and its varied natural, cultural and historical offerings to the world. The routes focus on three core heritage trails: Cultural Heritage (multifaceted culture), Green Heritage (extraordinary biodiversity) and Blue Heritage (ocean wonders).

Its economic model focuses on the development of specific public policies to incorporate sustainability in tourism by promoting the implementation of projects that support the transition to a green, low-emission and climate-resilient economy, as well as working with communities to strengthen and preserve their multicultural identity.

Inauguration of Panama-Costa Rica Electricity Route

This route is another step towards the decarbonization of the region. People with electric vehicles will have chargers along the 900 km from San José to Panama City.

In Panama, the chargers use solar and wind power plants, which combine renewable energies with zero-emission vehicles, an important contribution to reducing emissions. Also, Costa Rica has 99% of renewable electricity in this electric route.

Through this initiative, we seek to join forces so that the government and the private sector can promote the adoption of electric vehicles by citizens. This is another example of binational work to achieve the decarbonization of transportation.

New Solar Power Plants: Another Advance in the Energy Transition and Contribution to Sustainable Development

Both projects, together, represent a capacity of 39.36 MW and will generate 59.65 GWh per year, avoiding the emission of more than 35,400 tons of CO2 per year (Source: Enel, Green Power 2021).

With a projected investment of $30 million, the commissioning of these two solar plants will contribute to economic reactivation and the supply of clean energy at a reasonable price to customers in the country’s commercial and industrial sector.

This great achievement is also part of the energy transition of the new sustainable development model by the Government of Panama, placing Panama in the group of nations that contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Bloomberg New Economy Forum in 2022

Panama has been chosen to host the Bloomberg New Economy Gateway, a series of regional events with global audiences, which will start off with a Latin American event in Panama in 2022.

This event will bring together regional and global leaders for action on sustainable investment and the future of trade. This will be an excellent opportunity to help influence and accelerate collaboration between business and government during a critical time for the world. 

More achievements at COP26

Part of Panama’s achievements mentioned in this article are a sample of the commitment reaffirmed at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland. Where Panama committed to working together to mitigate and reduce the effects of climate change, advance in the SDG goals and align ourselves with the purpose of sustainable development and emissions reduction. In addition to leading the Declaration of Carbon-Negative Countries, other important advancements were reached, such as:

  • Panama adhered to the Because the Ocean Initiative in order to promote greater commitment and progress in incorporating the oceans into climate change policies, and the inclusion of ocean action in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement.
  • Signing of the Blue Leaders Declaration: Panama is recognized as a Blue Leader country by achieving the 30X30 international target.
  • Global Methane Pledge: Panama adhered to this commitment, signed by 80 countries at COP26, which seeks to work on national strategies to reduce methane gas emissions by 30% by 2030.
  • Declaration on Forests and Land Use: Panama joined the commitment made by more than 100 countries to end deforestation by 2030.

Panama is consolidating its leadership on this front with the support of local, regional and global strategic alliances. For our country, it is a priority to combat Climate Change and increase efforts for the conservation of the environment.

Arlinda Arizi
Author is Vice Consul of the Consulate General of Panama in Mumbai.
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