In the months to come, major global convenings will bring together public and private sector leaders in hopes of driving significant action on climate change. We have already seen the power that these partnerships hold at recent events, including Climate Week NYC and the Global Maritime Forum’s Annual Summit.

As the Panama Canal initiates sustainability innovations within its operations and watershed, it continues to mark the strongest successes when projects are forged alongside partners.

Launching a New Research Center to Protect Water Resources

Last month, the new Center for Innovation, Research and Hydro-environmental Technology (CITEC) held its first general assembly meeting. The Panama Canal led the development of CITEC with partners, including the City of Knowledge Foundation (FCDS), the National Secretariat of Science, Technology, and Innovation (SENACYT), the National Authority for Government Innovation (AIG), and the Technological University of Panama (UTP). The non-profit research center is part of a national effort to dedicate resources toward advancing water management and conservation.

“The starting point for this initiative was a conference on water and hydrology held with the Technological University of Panama in February 2020, where the proposal to create a hydrometeorology research center emerged. After two years, this evolved into a research center that not only conducts hydrometeorology, but also protects the Canal watershed,” said the Panama Canal Administrator Ricaurte Vásquez Morales.

The new center will focus on world-class research, water management technology, and groundbreaking innovation. Its goal will be to generate startups, discoveries, and new activities in the areas of water resources and environment. By partnering with expert organizations, CITEC will seek to harness artificial intelligence and machine learning, facilitating new capabilities in the management of environmental resources like water.

“The Canal is proud to support CITEC to bolster national water security by designing new tools that can efficiently manage our environmental resources through digital and operational innovations,” the Administrator added.

Measuring Progress on Securing Water Reliability at the Canal

The Panama Canal recently developed new planning instruments to help better manage the watershed resources, including a Sustainable Development and Decarbonization Strategy and an Indicative Environmental Land Use Plan.

The Sustainable Development and Decarbonization Strategy will help address population growth, low-impact socioeconomic development, environmental conservation, and climate change mitigation through decarbonization resilience. The Indicative Environmental Land Use Plan is an instrument to support environmental management, land use planning, and other environmental considerations related to urban and rural development.

The planning tools were designed and created with assistance from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), which provided technical support to analyze trends, risk scenarios, and management structures around the future of water resources at the Canal and in the watershed.

“Our work with the IDB is crucial to forming a deeper understanding of how the Canal may be affected by climate change and what steps we must take in order to adapt to and mitigate potential impacts on people, the environment, and our infrastructure,” said Magnolia Calderón, VP for Water Resources Management at the Panama Canal.

These plans were also developed in close partnership with more than 860 institutional actors, including the private sector, local government organizations, NGOs, and universities. The availability of water resources, environmental protection and conservation, and the Canal’s resilience to climate change are crucial priorities that require dedicated support from strategic allies and partners to ideate, manage, and measure.

“We look forward to continuing our strong history of strategic alliances with all the actors to promote sustainable progress for the Panama Canal, its watershed and the Panamanian people, promoting innovation, research, and the creation of tools that protect our environmental resources and provide services that promote world trade,” she added.

Canal Workers Spotlight: Taking Care of the Watershed
To mark the Canal’s 108th anniversary last month, workers from the Canal, joined by Administrator Ricaurte Vásquez Morales and Deputy Administrator Ilya Espino de Marotta, took part in a watershed reforestation project. The team planted native species on 60 hectares of land that was previously used as a deposit for materials during the Expansion. This reforestation project will help establish the area as a humid tropical forest, protecting the nearby river and water resources.

About the Panama Canal

The Panama Canal Authority is an autonomous legal entity of the Republic of Panama in charge of the operation, administration, management, preservation, maintenance, and modernization of the Panama Canal, as well as its activities and related services, so that the Canal may operate in a safe, continuous, efficient manner. For more information, please refer to the Canal’s website: or follow us on Twitter @thepanamacanal.