Panama is one of the world’s most water-rich countries. Water has become a strategic resource for Panama’s socio-economic development, with the Panama Canal as the flagship of its water-dependent economy. However, Panama is currently facing various water-related challenges, even – paradoxically – water scarcity. Panama was one of the countries in Latin America hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. Its GDP contracted 17.9 percent in 2020, and labour market income reduced by 18 percent (World Bank, 2021c). With growing vaccination rates and lessened restrictions, economic activities started to recover throughout 2021. In general, Panama’s central and accessible location, with its dollarized economy as well as strong and consistent economic growth, is an interesting market for foreign investment.
Considering the importance of water for Panama’s economy, water is increasingly becoming a priority on the country’s agenda. In 2015, a National Water Security Plan was developed by a specifically designed ‘High Level Committee on Water Security’, providing short, medium and long-term roadmaps for safeguarding Panama’s water resources in order to improve quality of life and ensure inclusive socio-economic growth.
The timespan of the National Water Security Plan is from 2015-2050 and identifies key areas of action. Moreover, the plan has put in place a national water council, the ‘Consejo Nacional del Agua (CONAGUA)’, who is responsible for the coordination and implementation of the National Water Security Plan.
The Panama Water Sector Study 2022, commissioned by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Panama and executed by the Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP), presents an overview of water-related challenges and opportunities found in the Panamanian water sector. Dutch water actors interested or active in Panama can download the report below.