Panama and El Salvador promote the training of environmental leaders

Environmental education and citizen participation are key to protect ecosystems.

Caring for the environment is a priority in most Ibero-American countries. In addition to the work carried out by the public and the private sector, it is necessary to involve communities in the protection of nature and the generation of sustainable practices. Progress can be made towards the preservation of ecosystems through environmental education and community empowerment. Specifically, it is important to raise awareness on the impact of consumption and disposal habits, and on our interaction with the environment and with other species.

In this regard, in the framework of their 2022-2024 Technical and Scientific Cooperation Program, Panama and El Salvador approved the Bilateral SSC project “Knowledge and technology transfer for environmental volunteers and community leaders”, implemented by the Ministries of Environment of both countries. The aim of the project was to:

Encourage and strengthen good environmental practices and the change of attitudes, through environmental education and citizen participation, and promote strategies to train volunteers and community environmental leaders in order to build sustainable pilot communities with a view to a local environmental development model (ESCO, 2024).

The project had 7 activities. These included workshops for volunteers and environmental leaders, and for community organizations, on topics related to environmental management and the implementation of projects on integrated solid waste management/3R principles (reduce, reuse, recycle), single-use plastics, and watershed conservation, among others. These activities were carried out online between April 2022 and January 2023. During the second phase, technical exchanges are expected to be carried out on-site, in order to experience the implementation of the initiatives in the field. The design of diploma courses to further strengthen knowledge is also planned.

According to the project’s document, the initiative was estimated to directly benefit communities that are involved in the protection and improvement of their environments and, additionally, to protect the region’s watershed. It also important to mention that this was planned to support the work of fourteen Regional Directorates of the Ministry of the Environment of Panama, which included two indigenous communities that were also interested in joining the Virtual Environmental School of the Ministry of the Environment (MARN by its Spanish acronym) of El Salvador. This platform was launched in January 2023, in order to provide public access to training, and to strengthen good practices for the conservation of natural resources (Diario El Salvador, 2023).

This Highlight includes images of the community of Parque Forestal Los Andes in San Miguelito (near Panama City), where environmental volunteers are developing reforestation initiatives and creating firebreaks so that fires do not spread and residents are not exposed to soot. This group of citizens organizes activities to increase protection and awareness on environmental care, in order to preserve the ecosystem of the park.

This site covers approximately 14 hectares and it also has water reserves, as part of the streams of many rivers originate within its hills. It is also a public space for recreation and education, not only for surrounding communities but also for the entire district. One of the main challenges is that residents can become aware of its importance and change negative practices such as burning, littering and hunting (Telemetro Reporta, 2023).

Through this initiative, these two Central-American countries contributed to the alignment of Ibero-American SSC with SDG 6 (Clean water and sanitation) -main SDG- and with SDG 13 (Climate action), 14 (Life below water) and 15 (Life on land) -second SDGs-.

March 2024


Source: SEGIB based on Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Panama, Agency for International Cooperation of El Salvador (ESCO by its Spanish acronym), Diario El Salvador (2023) and Telemetro Reporta (2023).

Photos: Bilateral SSC Project between Panama and El Salvador. Image bank on South-South and Triangular Cooperation in Ibero-America. SEGIB-PIFCSS. 2024.