The undersigned organizations wish to reiterate their petition to the World Heritage Committee asking to declare La Amistad International Park (PILA) as a world heritage site in danger as expressed to all of the reactive monitoring missions in 2008, 2013, and 2016. Today we deeply regret that the Panamanian Government has tried to improvise a last minute process of Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) without taking into consideration the participation of key stakeholders nor responding to the very serious challenges facing this protected area.
Within the context of Session 40 of the World Heritage Committee (UNESCO), currently being held in Istanbul, Turkey from July 10 to 20, 2016, and with regards to draft decision 40 COM B.72 which decides to include the Talamanca Range—La Amistad Reserve/La Amistad International Park (Costa Rica, Panama) in the List of World Heritage in Danger, we want to
1. In reference to the threats identified by the last report of the reactive monitoring mission that came to Panama from January 11-15, 2016, it becomes evident that the state of conservation of the protected area has worsened noticeably, only nine years after the presentation of our petition in 2007, especially because of the construction of massive hydroelectric dams in the Chiriqui Viejo, Bonyic and Changuinola rivers.
2. The haphazard Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) prepared by the Government of Panama in 2016 has failed to implement the required mechanisms for appropriate inter-institutional coordination, stakeholder consultation and participation that are necessary to guarantee agreement and harmonization of diverse interests, let alone the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous population.
3. The Panamanian Government has demonstrated very little interest in resolving the impacts on the aquatic fauna of the La Amistad International Park already generated by the hydroelectric dams built on the Changuinola and Bonyic rivers, not being able to formulate any adequate and effective mitigation measures despite existing legal obligations. Aggravating the situation, a new hydroelectric project was approved, Changuinola II, contravening the recommendations of previous sessions of the World Heritage Committee since 2010 that requested the preparation of a trans-boundary SEA before the approval of any new dams.
4. The SEA hurriedly prepared this year, financed by the company that is responsible for constructing the Changuinola II dam and approved without any consultation only in the month of June, does not address the fundamental questions of land tenure and existing inter-ethnic conflicts between the Ngäbe, Bribrí, Naso, and non-indigenous peasant population, which represents a threat for peaceful governance, ecological viability, and safeguarding of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of this world heritage site.
For all of the reasons above, we respectfully ask the World Heritage Committee to approve in its integrity the draft decision formulated by the IUCN technical advisory body, and to include the La Amistad International Park in the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger, in order to guarantee the technical assistance and follow up necessary to safeguard the integrity of this extraordinary world heritage site.
Asociación Ambientalista de Chiriquí Asociación Agro-Ambientalista Macho de Monte
Asociación de Productores Ecologistas La Amistad
Asociación de Agricultores Orgánicos de Rovira
Asociación para la Conservación de la Biosfera
Amigos del Parque Internacional La Amistad
Alianza para la Conservación y el Desarrollo
Fundación para el Desarrollo Integral, Comunitario y Conservación de los Ecosistema de Panamá
Justicia para la Naturaleza
Movimiento por la Defensa de los Territorios y Ecosistemas de Bocas del Toro
International Rivers Network