Erika Mouynes WHF COP26

Panama’s Foreign Minister Calls for Climate Accountability, Inclusive Policymaking in Conversation with World Humanitarian Forum CEO

In a wide-ranging interview with the World Humanitarian Forum’s CEO Feraye Ozfescioglu on the fifth day of COP26, Panama’s Foreign Minister Erika Mouynes highlighted the need for greater accountability and inclusion in the global fight against climate change.  

Representing one of only three carbon-negative countries at COP26, Foreign Minister Mouynes reiterated that leaders should be held accountable for backing up their climate pledges with meaningful action. “The accountability aspect is very important,” Mouynes said. “I think we need to start thinking of future COPs as a way to look back and ensure that we have delivered what we said we would. Otherwise, we’ll [continue] meeting and meeting, with high expectations and high ambitions but no real action.” 

Mouynes cited Panama’s recent legislation protecting 30% of its marine areas as an example of delivering on sustainability promises. “The oceans are the largest carbon sink,” Mouynes noted. “80% of global biodiversity is, in fact, underwater. Panama is surrounded by oceans and home to one of the world’s main waterways. We want to take this opportunity to lead [in ocean conservation].” 

As a member of the youngest national delegation to COP26, Mouynes – one of Latin America’s few female foreign ministers – also underscored the importance of shaping a more inclusive global dialogue on climate and sustainability issues. “It’s the young people that understand the urgent action we need. Yet they’re not the ones negotiating,” continued Mouynes. “Panama has the youngest negotiating team at COP26, and I can say that they’ve done extremely well. We need to go beyond the photo opp and make sure that these young minds are actually the ones sitting at the table and negotiating.” 

Foreign Minister Mouynes covered many other key areas in her conversation with Feraye Ozfescioglu, including the role of public-private cooperation in tackling the climate challenge. You can listen to the full interview with the World Humanitarian Forum here