In the News from Panama

Panama Hosts Global Summit on Oceans

Panama City was the host of a major global conference this week to discuss the future of oceans and efforts to develop a “blue economy.”

The eighth annual Our Ocean conference.attracted more than 600 delegates from government agencies, the private sector, and NGOs to discuss strategies to combat pollution, illegal fishing, and other threats to the oceans. The focus was on developing an economy based on more ocean-friendly approaches, similar to the “green economy.”

“We have to talk less and do more,” said the Panama Minister of Agricultural Development, Augusto Valderrama. “The time for talking is over and what we have to take are ever faster and more concrete actions if we want to save our planet,” 

The event was a major coup, putting Panama center stage in the global environmental discussion. With the global press on hand, it was an opportunity to share Panama’s rich biodiversity and long commitment to preservation.

Since 2014, the Our Ocean conference has generated more than 1,800 commitments worth over $108 billion and protected more than 5 million square miles of ocean. Panama was seen as the “perfect host” for the event as a “tropical nation brimming with biodiversity along both its coasts,” one press release noted.

In recent years, Panama has been a leader in ocean conservation, according to a press release from Oceana, the advocacy organization. Panama was the first Central American nation to ban plastic bags and was one of the first nations in the world to commit to protecting at least 30% of its ocean, the group reports.

“Plastics are one of the greatest threats facing our oceans today and Panama should be applauded for taking important steps to stop plastic pollution at the source,” says Andrew Sharpless, Oceana’s chief executive officer. 

Former U.S. Secretary of State and White House climate envoy John Kerry was the main driving force behind the conference. Discussions at the conference focused on topics like sustainable fishing, maritime safety, and underwater mining.

“The Our Ocean conference is key to maintaining political will on ocean action,” Courtney Farthing of the NGO Global Fishing Watch told AFP.