Mrs. Melanie Castillo, Sub-Administrator of ANAM, in the opening ceremony of the workshop.

The Republic of Panama is undergoing multiple transitions of technological, economic, social and cultural nature, in which the participation of civil society is regarded as a vital. This concerns in particular the development and implementation of environmental policies.

On the 9th of December of 2009 in Panama City, the National Environmental Authority (ANAM), with the support of UNITAR, organized a National Planning Workshop which commenced a one year project entitled Preparing a National Profile and Action Plan to Implement Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration. Principle 10 was adopted at the Rio Summit in 1992 and seeks to strengthen stakeholder participation in environmental decision-making through three main pillars: access to information, public participation and access to justice. During the workshop, some 45 participants from various governmental groups, private sector and public interest groups developed a work plan for the project which aims at strengthening participatory environmental governance.

The workshop was opened by Mrs. Melanie Castillo, Sub-Administrator of ANAM, who emphasized “the need to strengthen access to environmental information and environmental education, elements that are considered critical for citizens to exercise their rights and duties”.  Mrs. Gladys Vallester, National Project Coordinator and Director for Environmental Culture of ANAM stressed the need to “strengthen communication mechanisms between the state and civil society to address in a responsible and efficient manner the environmental problems the country is facing."

Although Panama has extensive environmental legislation that allows significant participation and consultation between the public and the government, in practice access to information and public participation in environmental decision making processes is facing challenges. The project will examine the national situation and review the implementation of Panama’s environmental regulations related to participatory environmental governance.

As a contribution to capacity development to enhance access to information and strengthen public participation in environmental decision-making in Central America, UNITAR is providing support to countries in Central America in 2009-2010, funded by the Government of Spain. The countries include Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. The projects have the objective to catalyze a multi-stakeholder process to assess existing capacities at national and local levels and to identify opportunities for targeted capacity development in the area of participatory environmental governance.

The project is being coordinated by the National Environmental Authority (ANAM) of the Republic of Panama, working with various government sectors and stakeholder groups.

For further information please contact the National Focal Point for the project Mr. Abel Barrias (abel.barria@anam.gob.pa) or visit: http://www.unitar.org/egp/principle-10-panama.

Environmental Governance Programme contact: envgov@unitar.org