WASHINGTON, February 10, 2015 - The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved a US$9.59 million grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), aimed at preserving biodiversity in about 554,000 hectares of the Atlantic and central-eastern regions of Panama. The GEF grant will complement funding from the Government, municipalities and private sector to improve the management effectiveness of protected areas and improve the livelihoods of 48,450 Panamanians in rural and indigenous communities.
The Sustainable Production Systems and Conservation of Biodiversity Project, to be implemented by the National Environment Authority of Panama (ANAM) over five years, will advance safeguarding efforts in seven provinces, two indigenous people’s regions (“comarcas”) and two indigenous people’s territories. It will seek to preserve the resilience of regional ecosystems, and encourage sustainable harvesting and biodiversity-friendly practices among farmers and small producers.
“Panama, the Global Environment Facility and the World Bank have worked together to conserve the biodiversity of the Atlantic Mesoamerican Biological Corridor in Panama while improving the productivity of rural, indigenous and extremely poor communities since 1998,” said Dulcidio De La Guardia, Minister of Economy and Finance of Panama. “The new Project will further advance these conservation efforts and will involve not only the beneficiaries, but also local governments, organizations and networks, with transfer of environmental knowledge and new opportunities for income,”De La Guardia said.
The US$29 million Project will be funded by the US$9.59 million grant from GEF; US$10.16 million from the Government of Panama; US$8.5 million from two private sector companies (US$2.5 million from AES-Changuinola and US$6 million from Minera Panama, through existing concession agreements with ANAM); US$90,000 from local municipalities and US$630,000 from local beneficiaries.
“Preserving biodiversity is important at the global level, but biodiversity is also a significant local source of food, protection, health, recreation, and economic activities. So any negative impact on biodiversity is not only critical for natural species, but also for the people who live near the protected areas,” said Anabela Abreu, World Bank country manager for Panama. “The World Bank is committed to support the country’s efforts to preserve the environment, improve its people’s livelihoods and provide opportunities for all,”Abreu said.
The project’s key goals include:
Improving the management effectiveness of protected areas with alliances for participatory management (concessions and co-management) and biodiversity monitoring, while assuring the financial sustainability of the conservation efforts.
Scaling up biodiversity-friendly production systems and increasing access for community-based organizations and small producers.
Raising awareness about biodiversity-friendly products and the economic value of biodiversity; strengthening citizen engagement and capacities (including South-South exchanges), and the promotion of partnerships for the management of protected areas.
Project activities will take place in the Bocas del Toro, Coclé, Colón, Chiriquí, Los Santos, Panama and Veraguas provinces; the Guna Yala and Ngäbe-Buglé comarcas; and the Bribri and Naso-Teribe territories, where a large number of the species of conservation concern are found.
On the GEF and the World Bank Group
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is a partnership for international cooperation where 183 countries work together with international institutions, civil society organizations and the private sector, to address global environmental issues. Since 1991, when the World Bank Group helped to establish it, the GEF has provided $13.5 billion in grants and leveraged $65 billion in co-financing for 3,900 projects in 165 developing countries. For 23 years, developed and developing countries alike have provided these funds to support activities related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, and chemicals and waste in the context of development projects and programs.