Panama, November 6, 2000. Panama Canal Authority (ACP) representative Juan Hector Diaz traveled to Amman, Jordan, to participate in this year’s World Congress of Nature, one of the most significant environmental conferences in the international arena. The Congress was organized by the UICN (International Union for Nature Conservancy), a pioneer environmentalist group created 52 years ago.

On invitation from The Nature Conservancy, the Canal Authority contributed to the conference with a discourse on the Canal watershed sustainable development program presented by Diaz, Director of the ACP Department of Safety, Environment, and Security. Additional participants from Panama included Elena Lombardo for the Natura Foundation, who presented a synopsis of their work in the area of sustainable development, as well as the National Authority for the Environment (ANAM), the Applied Science Study Circle (CECA), and the National Association for Nature Conservancy (ANCON). Also in attendance were nearly 2,000 delegates from the 79 member countries of the UICN, a widely encompassing organization comprised of 112 state environment and development organizations, 735 international NGOs and 10,000 scientists and experts from 181 countries.

On behalf of the Panama Canal, Mr. Diaz reiterated the ACP’s commitment to become a leader in worldwide sustainable development programs through Canal watershed conservation efforts. One of the key elements of the ACP sustainable development program is a permanent dialogue between the Canal organization and the communities-at-large, while promoting active community participation with regard to the issue. “With proper management of the region, productive activity can be achieved without failing to preserve the rich biodiversity in the new protected areas,” asserted Diaz.

The Panama Canal watershed, an area of approximately 552 thousand hectares, represents roughly seven percent of Panama’s entire national territory. Six protected forest and national park areas occupy more than 125 thousand hectares of the total watershed area.

The ACP presentation was well received as indicated by positive comments from the World Commission on Dams, an organization which functions under the auspices of the United Nations Environmental Program, the World Bank and the UICN, among others. The Canal organization seized the opportunity to invite the Commission to hold a summit in Panama, which would include the participation of other countries in the region.

The World Congress of Nature themes for 2000 were concentrated on the relationship between natural resource conservation and security. In addition, methods for promoting peace and socioeconomic stability through transnational cooperation were addressed and analyzed.