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Panama City, 5 March 2023 – The eighth Our Ocean Conference concluded in Panama City with 341 new commitments worth more than 19.9 billion dollars to protect the ocean, strengthening Panama’s globally recognised leadership as a “Blue Leader”. Acting as host country, Panama also called for joint action to save the planet.

For two days (2-3 March), authorities and delegates representing more than 190 countries adopted 95 commitments on climate change, 36 on marine pollution, 52 on sustainable blue economy, 47 on marine protected areas, 47 on sustainable fisheries and 37 on maritime security, emphasizing the collective responsibility of governments, companies, civil society, young people, science and technology in a combined effort for a healthier ocean.

The conference, held for the first time in Central America and themed “Our Ocean, Our Connection”, was inspired by Panama’s unique history and geography and the fact that all nations are linked to the ocean. At the conference, Panama’s President and host, Laurentino Cortizo, reiterated the country’s commitment to ocean protection, as demonstrated by decisions such as becoming one of the only three carbon-negative countries in the world and protecting 54.33% of its exclusive economic zone. This was achieved by expanding the limits of the Banco Volcán Managed Resources Area in the Caribbean coast of Panama to 93,390 square kilometers; six times its original size.

Cortizo also reaffirmed the commitment to prioritize the expansion of marine protected areas, especially the marine protections and connectivity of the Eastern Tropical Pacific Marine Corridor, by collaborating with neighboring countries in order to promote the transnational protection of marine resources and to take actions against illegal fishing. Moreover, he highlighted having achieved the protection of more than 30% of the ocean in 2021, thus meeting the goal of the 30×30 initiative sooner.

Likewise, Panamanian Foreign Minister, Janaina Tewaney, held bilateral meetings to promote the country’s efforts as a blue leader and to explore partnerships, cooperation opportunities and initiatives for the health and sustainability of the ocean.

With side events, panel plenary sessions, bilateral meetings and the participation of more than 600 delegates, Our Ocean Panama 2023 also stressed the importance of ocean-based climate solutions (including shipping decarbonisation), marine nature-based solutions and renewable energy in order to improve global climate resilience.

At the closing ceremony, Panama, represented by its First Lady, Yazmin de Cortizo, and its Foreign Ministry, Janaina Tewaney, officially handed over the Our Ocean Conference baton to Greece, which will host the event in 2024.

Since the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry, launched the Our Ocean Conferences in 2014, they have mobilized more than 2,000 commitments in the areas of action of the conference: climate change, sustainable fisheries, sustainable blue economies, marine protected areas, maritime security, and marine pollution.

Press Release in Spanish