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Plan Puebla Panama countries adopt joint strategy to support sustainable development in Mesoamerican region

The eight countries involved in Plan Puebla Panama today adopted a common strategy to ensure that all projects in their regional integration program include sound environmental management practices and promote the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.

In a ceremony held at the Inter-American Development Bank’s headquarters in Washington, DC, presidential commissioners and top officials from the environment ministries of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama signed a memorandum of understanding for the implementation of the Mesoamerican Initiative for Sustainable Development (IMDS, according to its Spanish acronym).

Honduran Vice President Vicente Williams, Panamanian Vice President Dominador Kaiser Bazán and IDB President Enrique V. Iglesias attended the ceremony, along with delegates from multilateral institutions, aid agencies and civil society organizations.

Iglesias welcomed the Mesoamerican nations’ decision to work together to achieve sustainable development. “All too often, we dwell on the problems plaguing our region. This, on the contrary, is one of the positive things happening in Latin America,” he said.

Nicaragua’s presidential commissioner, Ernesto Leal, noted that Plan Puebla Panama not only includes projects to modernize the region’s infrastructure and foster trade among Mesoamerican countries but also programs emphasizing a balanced development. “This memorandum reaffirms the human face of Plan Puebla Panama,” Leal said.

The IMDS will provide a strategic and crosscutting programmatic framework for Plan Puebla Panama, which supports economic and social development and integration among the Central American countries and Mexico’s southern and southeastern states.

The initiative’s short, medium and long-term actions and programs will help strengthen the region’s capacities in areas such as environmental policy development harmonization of environmental standards, norms, best practices and environmental management and governance.

It will also support regional projects such as the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor and cooperation on sustainable development programs in shared land and coastal areas and basins, such as in the Lempa River, which crosses El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras; the Sixaola River between Costa Rica and Panama; and the Gulf of Honduras, which joins Belize, Guatemala and Honduras.

Under the IMDS, the Mesoamerican countries will support the development of regionally agreed norms and procedures for the application of strategic environmental impact assessments in Plan Puebla Panama projects. These evaluations will help countries devise adequate environmental management and mitigation plans and ensure the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.

Plan Puebla Panama includes projects to upgrade and link highways, power transmission lines, telecommunications networks and customs systems in the Mesoamerican region. It also fosters cooperation on human development programs, natural disaster prevention and sustainable tourism.

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