MarViva joins rejection of actions directed to unprotect wetlands
Over 40 civil society organizations -including MarViva Foundation located at the City of Knowledge-, expressed their opposition to the project which, in accordance with the recent Cabinet Resolution No.95, authorizes the Minister of Economy and Finance to submit to the special sessions of the National Assembly a project that seeks to change the boundaries of the protected wetland area of the Panama Bay, and opens once again the door to the possible destruction of mangroves and other wetlands, as well as the proliferation of new landfills in these areas.
The content of Bill Nº722 would allow the destruction of more than 750 hectares of wetlands between Juan Díaz, Tocumen and Pacora, increasing vulnerability and the risk of disaster for those closest to these areas, besides the irreversible environmental impact to this ecosystem. The exclusion of these hectares of protected wetland area undermines the human, legal, ecological and economic security of Panama. Over 40 civil society organizations expressed their categorical rejection of any action detrimental to the Ramsar site and the protected wetland area of the Panama Bay.
Despite the ruling of the Third Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice of December 23, 2013, which declared legal the AG-0072-2009 Resolution uttered by the National Environmental Authority (ANAM) to create the protected wetland area of the Panama Bay, "under the full conviction and awareness of the importance of the Panama Bay Wetland", the authorities have been trying by various means to reduce the boundaries of the protected area Panama Bay Ramsar Site, ignoring the Constitution and other laws, and even international commitments undertaken by signing the International Convention on Wetlands, known as the Ramsar Convention. If the bill passes, then also the National Assembly will be acting against this decision.
The civil society organizations demand of the ANAM, competent authority, to act swiftly and devote itself to safeguard this site. The ruling of the Court reminds that 'one of the duties of public servants is to act efficiently and responsibly in administrative actions entrusted to their charge'. The decision reflects the 'lax' performance so far by the ANAM, making this a great opportunity for them to intervene in the protection of this wetland of international importance, defending the general public interest.
The organizations are in favor of the creation of laws to ensure the protection of an area and the resources that are housed there, but do not support this legislative initiative as it damages the legal and environmental stewardship of this protected area, thus violating the Environmental Non-Regression Principle, which contemplates to never back up in measures that protect the environment. Therefore they demand the Executive Branch to refrain from presenting this bill and if it doesn’t, to the National Assembly of Deputies to protect this site, maintaining existing limits from 2009 to the date.
Organizations are also asking the Supreme Court to support the Appeal for Constitutional Protection filed against the order authorizing the Minister of Economy and Finance to present this bill and, alternatively, that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will issue precautionary measures for the suspension of the discussion.