Environmental Laws of Panama, Dr. Ronel Solis

Dr. Ronel Solis, c. Ruth Metzel

What are the laws that govern environmental protection in Panama? On June 15, Dr. Ronel Solis presented important environmental laws to the Pedasí community at the AEP office. Dr. Ronel Solis studied law and political science at the University of Panama. Upon graduation he obtained a scholarship from the Ministry of Education and Culture of Japan to study for his Master’s and Ph.D. in Economics from Nagoya University in Japan where he specialized in International Business Law. He currently teaches at the Faculty of Law and Political Science at the University of Panama, Azuero University Regional Center in Chitré, Herrera Province and is secretary of the New Hope Foundation for Sustainable Development.

During his talk Dr. Solis clarified environmental law. Although environmental law is complex, with laws that often contradict each other, Dr. Solis provided an easy way to make sense of the various existing laws. According to Dr. Solis’ talk, the constitution of Panama is the supreme law and one should always return to that document when it comes to debates about environmental protection. Dr. Solis noted that the Panamanian constitution determines five environmental areas that belong to the state and can never become private property. According to Article 258, these five environmental areas are:

¨(1) The territorial sea, lake, river, waters, beaches, and banks of rivers and waterways, ports, and estuaries. All these goods are freed and of common use.

(2) Land and water destined for public services and all types of communication.

(3) The land and water intended or that the state intended for public irrigation, hydro power, water supply, and drainage.

(4) The aerospace, submarine continental shelf, the seabed, and the subsoil of the territorial sea.

(5) Any other property that the Law defines as for public use.

In all cases where private property becomes by law public property, the owner shall be compensated by the state.¨

Playa Arenal in Pedasí, c. Sophie Fuchs

Furthermore, Dr. Solis highlighted the Ley No. 24 de Vida Silvestre, which provides the guidelines for the protection of wildlife. He noted that in Article 40 it is prohibited to take wildlife from their natural habitat, an action which is often practicedin this region.

Dr. Solis left the audience with some final words to engage them in environmental protection. Dr. Solis cleverly pointed out that while people may blame  governmental agencies like ANAM (Autoridad Nacional del Ambiente in Spanish) for environmental degradation, ¨when you point your finger, three fingers point back at you¨.

Dr. Solis presents on the environmental laws of Panama, c. Ruth Metzel

Said Dr. Solis: ¨ For me it was important to attend and present a set of environmental laws to a group of children, foreign residents and the conservation-minded, [as it should be] the same community that find their own solutions to their social and environmental challenges”. In essence, we all share responsibility to ensure proper protection of the environment and natural resources.

Resources from the event:

Dr. Solis´s Powerpoint (in Spanish)