ICC Virtual Panel during COP26 - The Symbiotic Relationship Between Conservation and Prosperity.

As COP26 launches, Panama holds panel on economic benefits of climate stewardship

Panama held a panel on Monday in conjunction with the International Chamber of Commerce entitled “The Symbiotic Relationship Between Conservation and Prosperity.” The event featured insights from leaders in Panama, one of only three carbon-negative countries in the world. Especially as COP26 gets underway, it has never been more important for leaders to understand that building the economy of the future goes hand-in-hand with fighting climate change and preserving the world’s natural resources. 

During the panel, Dr. Jorge Rivera Staff, National Secretary of Energy for Panama, pointed to the country’s bold but practical energy transition plan. The plan is projected to create over 15,000 new jobs in Panama by 2024 alone. 

Shirley Binder, National Director of Protected Areas and Biodiversity in Panama’s Ministry of Environment, discussed how Panama is approaching conservation – Panama has already reached its 30×30 goal of conserving 30% of its territorial waters by 2030, a full nine years ahead of schedule. Binder pointed to the importance of communicating with impacted communities and industries about the rationale and benefits behind conservation measures. For example, communicating how protecting certain sea areas to preserve migratory flows of fish, while initially seeming restrictive to fishers, ultimately benefits them by preserving ecosystems that sustain their livelihoods. 

Dr. Oris Sanjur from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute explained the importance of providing social context along with scientific data. She emphasized that the development, implementation, and communication of environmental policies must be both science-based and mindful of the impacts of such policies down to the local level. 

As policymakers gather at COP26, Dr. Rivera Staff emphasized that Panama offers a roadmap for how countries of all sizes and varieties can do their part to fight climate change. Dr. Sanjur declared it every country’s responsibility to do its part to reduce emissions and conserve carbon sinks. Even as a global challenge like climate change requires countries across the globe to contribute to the solution, Panama is proud to lead the way, opening up new possibilities for economic prosperity in the process.