Panama announces expanded marine protections at the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon

This week, a Panamanian delegation led by Panama’s Minister of Environment, Milciades Concepción, traveled to Lisbon, Portugal to participate in the UN Oceans Conference. The annual conference, co-hosted this year by the Governments of Kenya and Portugal, serves as a forum to mobilize global action on ocean conservation. This year’s conference focused on identifying avenues to implement innovative solutions related to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water.

At the conference, Minister Concepción announced that Panama will increase the percentage of its protected waters to at least 40% by 2024. This commitment builds on Panama’s strong marine conservation track record – in June 2021, Panama became the first country to achieve 30% protection of its marine resources, reaching the United Nations’ 30×30 goal nine years ahead of the 2030 deadline. In his speech announcing the new target, Minister Concepción urged his counterparts to begin identifying and implementing evidence-based solutions to seek the same objectives.

As the country that connects the world’s two largest oceans, Panama has long been an advocate for marine conservation and sustainable development, both at home and abroad. Panama’s commitment to multilateral ocean action is exemplified by its leadership within the Eastern Tropical Pacific Marine Corridor (CMAR) – a 500,000 km2 marine protected area that joins the territorial waters of Panama, Ecuador, Colombia, and Costa Rica to protect migration routes for vulnerable and endangered species.

During his address at the UN Oceans Conference, Minister Concepción also highlighted Panama’s commitment to the fight against illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing by showcasing the country’s plan to create an inter-institutional monitoring center. The new body will coordinate action between Panama’s security and fishing authorities to ensure compliance with national regulations and international agreements, in line with Panama’s commitment to preserve its national and regional waters and promote international collaboration on ocean conservation.

“Being a maritime country, we understand that we are responsible for [the ocean’s] protection” Minister Concepción said, noting that Panama will continue to foster greater international collaboration and action to preserve the world’s marine environments. The Minister concluded his remarks by extending an invitation for all participants to continue their ocean conservation efforts by attending the eighth edition of the “Our Ocean Conference”, which will be held in Panama City, Panama in March 2023.