Recycling for a Better World forum at CDS

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As part of the activities of the 1st Panama Recycling Week, the forum: "Recycling for a Better World: Building of sustainable and inclusive solutions for the management of solid waste", was held on Thursday, May 14, at the City of Knowledge Convention Center.

The forum began with welcoming words by Maripaz Vindas, who stated that its aim is to provide a space to disseminate experiences and models that are committed to sustainable solutions, which are easy to adapt and to replicate. The event counted with the participation of five national exhibitors as well as with the participation of international speaker, Laura Prado Chacón, Mayor of Santo Domingo de Heredia (Costa Rica).

Mr. Lorenzo Tejeira, from the Authority for Urban and Household Sanitation in Panama, began the forum with the conference "Integrated Solid Waste Management for reducing the same". During his talk he explained that the objective of the Authority for Urban and Household Sanitation is to develop the technical capacities of the municipalities, to enable them to implement environmental and health policies in the management of solid waste.

For his part Olmedo Madrigal, Mayor of Chitré, spoke about plans to improve solid waste management in the municipality of Chitré. He explained that the initial situation, at the start of his mandate, was difficult because there was a serious garbage problem. Therefore they decided to implement a local strategy for waste management -for a clean and green Chitré-, focused on the integration of members of the community, education of the population, innovation, outreach and sustainability; in order to ensure the continuity of their projects.

Special guest, Laura Prado Chacón, Mayor of Santo Domingo de Heredia (Costa Rica), spoke about the experience of the municipality in the design and implementation of a Solid Waste Management Plan with community participation. During her presentation she explained that the Solid Waste Management Plan stems from the community, but they have involved the private sector, government and civil society, with special mention of the alliance with the Domingan Association for Environmental Management (ADOGA). For the Mayor the road was complicated, but the bottom line in carrying out an effective plan lies in the culture and education of the people involved, since they must feel motivated. Finally she stressed that in the issue of management of solid waste "the best investment youcan makeisinthechildren."

The forum also counted with the participation of Mr. Richard Villalobos, of Bern Enterprises, who mentioned that recycling is a strategy to promote environmental conservation; Alida Spadafora, Director of the Zero Waste Program of the City of Panama, who spoke about the objectives and progress of the program; and Marisol Landau, from FAS Panama –whose Collection Center is located at the City of Knowledge-, who mentioned that the problem of solid waste is a shared issue that must have leadership.

The garbage problem in Panama has surpassed the capabilities of the sectors responsible for organizing and planning their management. The causes are diverse and are worse in the most densely populated places, as well as in the less populated communities that also face the problem on a smaller scale. Diversity, volume and complexity of managing waste materials, low value, exclusion, the total absence of urban planning, and lack of a holistic view of the problem, have led to a collapse of the public service for solid waste management.

There are efforts and initiatives that have been implemented and executed from the business, community, institutional and municipal sectors. They have all faced barriers, high and low and even failure, but have managed to survive and become stronger.