Thursday, March 9, 2023
WASHINGTON—This past week Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs Carmen Cantor joined the U.S. delegation at the Our Ocean Conference in Panama City, Panama, to highlight the Department of the Interior’s role in conserving our ocean, Great Lakes, and coasts.
“The Department of the Interior is committed to conserving and restoring the health and productivity of the ocean for the benefit of all Americans. Under our ‘Blue Portfolio’ we manage more ocean and coastal resources than any other agency, including 2.3 billion submarine acres on the Outer Continental Shelf, 183 coastal and ocean National Wildlife Refuges, and 35,000 miles of coastline,” said Assistant Secretary Cantor. “With new resources from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are investing in collaborative, science-driven conservation that is advancing coastal climate resilience and jumpstarting the offshore wind industry to advance America’s clean energy economy.”
Consistent with the Biden-Harris administration’s clean energy goals and America the Beautiful initiative, the Department is implementing investments in coastal and ocean resilience and restoration through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and making great advancements to expand offshore wind opportunities. The Department is also taking concerted actions to reduce loss and risks to infrastructure and critical coastal habitats from climate change and sea-level rise along our coasts and engaging with partners to conduct critical science needed to understand and guide sustainable management of our ocean and coastal resources. Through the National Ocean Mapping, Exploration, and Characterization (NOMEC) strategy, interagency partners across the administration are advancing our understanding of the U.S. EEZ to advance science, build ocean-related industries, inform ocean use and conservation, and enhance the nation’s prosperity and security.
While in Panama, Assistant Secretary Cantor and the Interior Department delegation met with Panamanian officials and visited sites where the Department has provided technical assistance in partnership with the Department of State. The Department’s cooperation with the Government of Panama fulfills U.S. environmental commitments under the U.S-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement and helps advance mutual regional priorities regarding protecting biodiversity and natural resources. Panama is a regional leader for the Central American and Dominican Republic Wildlife Enforcement Network (CAWEN), in partnership with the Interior Department’s International Technical Assistance Program (DOI-ITAP) and Department of State.
In meetings with Prosecutor General Javier Caraballo and Minister of the Environment Milciades Concepcion to discuss the Department’s bilateral and regional cooperation with Panama on environmental conservation, Assistant Secretary Cantor noted that CAWEN is a great success story and serves as a model for other regional networks to counter wildlife trafficking.
In addition, the Interior delegation visited the “Parque Natural Metropolitano,” where technical experts from the Department collaborated with Panamanian park and non-governmental organization staff to design and install a solar panel system. This renewable energy network consists of 90 solar panels with the capacity to generate up to 22.5kW of energy and includes a mini weather station. This not only reduces the park’s energy consumption and greenhouse gas footprint, but also serves as a renewable energy demonstration site.