Discussion Group: Panama in the context of Rio + 20

The City of Knowledge Foundation (FCDS), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) began, on Thursday, March 22, with the first of the seven conversation cycle entitled: Panama on the Road to Sustainable Development.

The Executive Director of the City of Knowledge Foundation, Jorge Arosemena, introduced the speakers and noted that this series of conversations should lead to the sharing of ideas in order to find answers on the road to Rio+20. Esteban Saez, Senior Vice President of Environment, Water and Energy of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), highlighted the relationship between the sustainability of the Canal and the rest of the country, since they are dependent on each other. Meanwhile Margarita Astrálaga, Regional Director of UNEP, stressed the importance of initiatives like this series of talks, which will help promote many exchanges and in turn assess how we have progressed since Rio92.

Between the panelists, moderated by Lourdes Lozano, the participation of Dr. Guillermo Castro, Academic Director of the City of Knowledge Foundation, was very well received. Dr. Castro noted that a generation has passed since environmental issues have acquired a global significance thanks to the Rio Summit in 1992. He also stated that the main challenge is the incorporation of the Canal to the internal economy because now we are discovering the fundamental role of water in the development of Panama.

Engineer Ángel Ureña, Environmental Protection Specialist of the ACP Environmental Management Division, said that the Canal’s basin accounts for 5% of the territory of the country but generates 70% of the GDP, thus without an integrated management of water resources, the Canal could not operate. The Engineer stressed that the Canal expansion will play an important role in reducing CO2, as fewer vessels can carry more load. Meanwhile Andrea Brusco, Legal Officer Coordinator of the UNEP Environmental Law Program, emphasized that we have to stop working from an individual perspective and do it globally.

The discussion group also featured a question and answer session which helped to clarify doubts and become, in turn, a window that fosters discussions among participants and attendees, to promote a culture of environmental sustainability.





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