The World Bank supports Panama in promoting biodiversity-friendly practices in rural areas

WASHINGTON DC, October 8, 2022 – The World Bank yesterday approved a $3.51 million grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Trust Fund to support the Panama government’s program to strengthen its capacity to protect the biodiversity and to encourage the uptake of biodiversity friendly products and support integrative practices in selected rural areas of the country.

“Significant contributions to Panama’s GDP, including the canal and tourism, continue to depend on the sustainable management of our rich natural resources and globally important biodiversity,” said Economy and Finance Minister Héctor Alexander. “As part of this project, we have a responsibility to make strategic investments with a long-term perspective and demonstrate our commitment to protecting the country’s biodiversity.”

The Panama Sustainable Rural Development and Biodiversity Conservation Project is organized around two complementary pillars to strengthen biodiversity management:

· Strengthening institutional capacity for biodiversity conservation by improving management, governance and knowledge of biodiversity for 12 protected areas and 5 key biodiversity areas. An estimated 20,000 rural Panamanians will reap indirect benefits from improved biodiversity conservation and improved management of natural and productive resources. The Ministry of the Environment (MiAMBIENTE) will be responsible for the implementation of the activities in coordination with relevant partner institutions. As part of this component, the project will also support research, knowledge generation and dissemination on the intrinsic value of biodiversity in Panama.

· Support for biodiversity-friendly investments, economically viable and inclusive activities in selected buffer zones of national protected areas and important biodiversity areas. The project will support farmer organizations and local communities to implement sustainable economic activities through Productive Alliances. Investment activity will focus on organic farming, agroforestry and silvopastoral systems; ecotourism, with practices such as improving energy, water and waste systems at visitor facilities; and strengthening of value chains including certification processes of bio and biodiversity friendly products. In order to contribute to improved economic inclusion, a minimum participation of women (40%) and indigenous groups (25%) is aimed for.

“This project will have a positive impact on the environment, both in the conservation and management of biodiversity around Panama’s National Protected Areas and Key Biodiversity Areas, as well as in promoting income-generating activities in rural communities and benefiting vulnerable groups, such as as indigenous peoples and Afro descendants, which are an integral part of our work,” said Michel Kerf, World Bank director for Central America and the Dominican Republic.

The project will be implemented over four years at a total cost of US$10.01 million, including the US$3.51 million grant from GEF. An additional $6.5 million comes from co-funding, including direct consideration contributions from MiAMBIENTE, a line of credit provided by other funding institutions to beneficiaries undertaking sub-projects, and own contributions from the beneficiaries and el Caribe:

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