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Updated to: 27 June 2011Download as PDF
Country contact on SEA
Contact details for the country contact on SEA.
National Environmental Authority (ANAM)
Headquarters Bldg 2010 804 Albrook,
Panama Apartado C-0843-00793 Balboa,
Ancon-Rep. of Panama
Country's planning system
Brief description of planning practice, specifically whether it take place more often at centralised or decentralised level, what kind of national level planning and sectoral planning takes place, etc.
The Panamanian planning system is divided into the following state departments:
- Ministry of Social Development (MIDES), responsible for promoting human development and ensuring social integration,
- Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) responsible for the development and implementation of the state budget, public credit and modernization of the State,
- Ministry of Government and Justice, assigned to the country´s political and administrative system to ensure peace and security, run the state prison system and control the state immigration policy.
History of SEA
Brief description of the history of SEA in the country, including when it was introduced and any major milestones in its development.
The incorporation of SEA in regulation occurred in the context of the publication of ED-209, 2006, which defined its functions and scope. Later in the year 2009, a new executive order was published, ED-123, which repealed the ED-209 and considers, among other changes, a new definition of SEA.
Legal framework for SEA
Name of first enabling legislation that sets the framework for SEA.
SEA is mentioned in ED-209, which was later repealed by the ED-123.
Approving authority of enabling law
The authority that approved the enabling law for SEA.
The president is the one who approved the ED-123.
First national detailed SEA regulation
First national detailed regulation (procedural requirements) for SEA, through which SEA was operationalized.
Article 77 (ED-123) describes the SEA procedure as follows: those responsible for the implementation of plans and programs can elaborate an SEA, from which emerges a final report to be submitted to the ANAM for review, which takes up to a maximum of three months, and a similar procedure applies (as outlined in the ED-123) on the EIS for requesting extensions. Guidelines for the SEA procedure shall be established by an ANAM Administrative Order.
Recent updates and additions to the SEA legislation
Revisions of the SEA provisions in the enabling law or the national detailed SEA regulation (procedural requirements) are named. The year is listed, and the main changes since the first regulation are mentioned, if available. Also, additional relevant SEA-related legislation that has been published since the first legislation is listed.
ED-123 in 2009 where aspects of SEA are mentioned in Articles 75 to 78.
Sector specific procedures/regulations
Any existing sectoral procedure/regulations are listed here, as well as the authority that issued each.
No sector specific procedures are defined for SEA.
Any government issued guidelines on SEA (general or sectoral) are listed here, as well as the authority that issued each. Describes the legal status of the guidelines.
Guidelines on Strategic Environmental Assessment for Central America published by CCAD-IUCN, 2007.
The objective of SEA as stated in the above described legal basis.
According to Article 76 (ED-123), the implementation of SEA in plans and programs related to national development aims:
- To introduce an efficient and effective environmental variable in development planning as a way to promote, facilitate, modernize and accelerate sustainable development in the country.
- To enhance the resources of the State and society in general, so as to avoid excessive and systematic repetition of environmental procedures on human actions (projects) which, by their nature, correspond to a predictable pattern of effects and conditions on the environment which can be environmentally regulated through integrated and comprehensive analysis.
- To develop, as a result of the application of SEA to plans, programs and policies, more effective tools and means of compliance, based on environmentally responsible commitments and obligatory application, that will allow a faster and easier systematic way for the environmental licensing procedures of individual human actions subscribed to such plans and programs.
- As a result of the SEA on plans, programs and policies, it will be possible to identify human actions which by their size and nature, linked to the environmental significance or by their location in an environmentally fragile area, would require the development of a more specific and detailed EIA, as well as any other human actions that require this process.
Scope of SEA application
Describes for which planning processes (at policy, programme and plan level) SEA is required.
According to Article 75 (ED-123), the following plans, programs and policies, public and private, national or regional, can be subject to a SEA:
- Development of plans, programs and policies of social significance for all sectors, national or regional, promoted by the government and included in the governments national development plan.
- Development of plans, programs and policies of social significance for all sectors, national or regional, promoted by the government with private sector participation, with a medium and long term perspective, within development areas such as energy, urban, industrial, mining, tourism, agribusiness, infrastructure, and others.
- Plans, programs and policies for land use at local, regional or national levels.
Exemptions from SEA application
Are any specific types of plans explicitly excluded from SEA application?
Describes the current overall SEA approach. Specifically: Has the country's SEA procedure been modeled on the existing EIA approach? Or has a separate SEA approach been developed?
The review of the Final Report of an SEA is carried out through the procedure outlined in the ED-123 on the EIS for expansion applications (Article 77, ED-123).
SEA tiering with EIA
Are there any provisions for tiering of EIA and SEA?
Article 76c (ED-123) mentions that, as a result of the application of SEA to plans, programs and policies, more effective tools and means of compliance will be developed, based on environmentally responsible commitments and obligatory application, that will allow a faster and easier systematic way for the the environmental licensing procedure of individual human actions subscribed to such plans and programs.
Institutional setting for SEA
Central SEA authority
Is there a central authority in charge of the SEA system as a whole, responsible for issuing guidelines etc? If so, is it independent or linked to a higher body (e.g. ministry)?
The ANAM is responsible for receiving and reviewing a final SEA report (Article 77 of ED-123).
Mandate for exemption of SEA obligation
Is there a legal mandate for a competent authority to make exemptions of SEA obligation? If yes, under which conditions (e.g. national security, disasters or no conditions/when deemed necessary)?
SEA is not mandatory for plans, policies and programs. Exemptions are not specified.
(De)centralisation of SEA mandates
Are SEA mandates (de)centralised? Vertical decentralization refers to the extent to which the responsibility for SEA processes is delegated by the central government to the provincial or local authorities. Sectoral or horizontal decentralization refers to the reassignment of decision-making authority on SEA to government units on a sectoral basis.
There is no decentralization of the mandates for SEA, however, the ANAM promotes active management by the entities responsible for planning and evaluation of projects, both for sectors and supra-sectors, in terms of governmental plans, programs and policies in order to optimize resources and to streamline the technical procedures of SEA (Section 77, ED-123).
Initiator of the SEA
Who initiates the SEA? Should the plan owner initiate and undertake the SEA or is an environmental authority responsible for undertaking the SEA. If an authority is responsible, which authority and at which level?
Those responsible for the implementation of plans and programs are those that can initiate the elaboration of an SEA (Article 77, ED-123).
Screening requirement and authority
Is a formal screening decision required? And if so, which authority is responsible for this decision? Is the decision published?
Describes the screening process for SEA (if any), who is involved and who is responsible. What kind documentation on the SEA needs to be submitted for screening?
Stages or processes for SEA are not specified, however, Article 75 (ED-123), establishes the development of plans, programs and policies, public and private, on a national or regional level, which may be subject to SEA.
Maximum number of (working) days between submission of the screening request and the screening decision.
Identification of stakeholders
Are stakeholders identified early on in the SEA? Who is responsible for identifying the stakeholders? Is a communication plan developed (addressing public and government engagement, disclosure, etc?).
According to Article 77 (ED-123), ANAM promotes active involvement of the entities responsible for planning and evaluation of projects, both sector and Supra-sector in terms of governmental development plans, programs and policies in order to optimize resources and streamline the technical procedure of SEA..
Furthermore, Article 78 (ED-123) establishes that in the case of governmental plans, programs and policies, whether sector or supra-sector, the SEA can be made by professionals in the environmental units of the different governmental institutions, and in the case of SEA for plans, programs and policies from the private sector, they should be prepared by environmental consultants registered on ANAM´s list of consultants that are duly authorized for such tasks.
Setting SEA objectives
Is there an early discussion on the objectives for the SEA (i.e. How it will support planning, how it will be integrated into the planning process)? Which stakeholders are involved? Are the outcomes of this discussion documented?
Implementing the SEA
Is there a distinct scoping process? Who is responsible? Who is involved? What methods (if any) are prescribed (overlays, matrices, etc)?
Not specified, but Article 75 (ED-123), sets out plans, programs and policies, public and private, at a national or regional level, which may be subject to SEA.
Participation in scoping
If here is distinct scoping, is participation part of this process? Who is involved and how?
Outcome of scoping
What are the expected outcomes of the scoping? e.g. decision criteria and suitable indicators of desired outcomes identified? If a ToR/scoping document is produced, what are the content requirements if any? Is the ToR reviewed? Is the outcome widely available?
Are there any specific requirements for data collection (for example, on protected areas)?
Are there any requirements for the alternatives to be considered in the SEA? How should alternatives be selected, ranked, compared?
Assessment/mitigation of effects
What are the specific requirements for assessment and mitigation of impacts as part of SEA? Any specific methods prescribed?
Is the institutional setting for implementation of the plan analysed? Is there explicit attention for the identification of opportunities to strengthen environmental constituencies?
Content of SEA report
If documentation is required, what should be contained in the SEA report?
Describes the requirements for SEA review. Specifically: Who reviews the SEA? An independent body? Environmental Authority? Is the review approach similar to EIA review in the country?
According to Article 77 (ED-123), the Final Report of an SEA is delivered to the ANAM for review, within a maximum of three months, applying a similar procedure as outlined in the ED-123 on the EIS for requesting extensions.
Participation in review
Are there any arrangements for participation in review? Who is involved? How is their involvement arranged?
What is the timeline given for the review of the SEA, in (working) days?
The ANAM has a maximum period of three months to review the final report of a SEA (Article 77, ED-123).
Informing and influencing decision-making
SEA and planning decision-making
What is the formal role of SEA in decision-making on the plan? Is SEA approval needed before a planning decision can be made?
The approval of the SEA is not obligatory in order to implement the plan. However, Article 77 (ED-123) determines that the ANAM makes recommendations on basis of the analysis of the plan or program, detailing the tools and means that must be met as part of that process and outlining the restrictions and limitations that it considers relevant for those human actions involved in the plan or program and for which it would be necessary to develop more specific environmental assessments.
Recommendations for decision-making
How are the results of the SEA and participation translated into recommendations for decision-making on the plan?
Article 77 (ED-123), determines that the ANAM makes recommendations when the plan or program is been analyzed, detailing the tools and means that must be met as part of the SEA process and pointing out the restrictions and limitations that it considers relevant for human actions related to the plan or program for which it would be necessary to develop specific environmental assessment.
Justification of decision
Does policy/programme/plan adoption decision-making have to be justified on the basis of the SEA?
Is there a requirement for implementation of decisions to be monitored? What is the role of SEA outcomes in this monitoring? What provisions exits for action to be undertaken if environmental problems occur?
Is there a formal requirement to evaluate the SEA? Similarly, to evaluate plan implementation before the next round of plan development? Are the two connected in this SEA system?
Annual no. of SEAs
Gives an estimation for the number of SEAs that are produced annually in this country.
This information is not available on the official website of ANAM.
Central SEA database
Is there a central database or library where information on SEAs is kept (i.e. where all SEAs are registered and/or copies are archived). If so, what is kept there and is this information publicly accessible?
ANAM is responsible for providing relevant data, however, the SEA data are not available on its official website nor on the page of the Government of the Republic of Panama.
Professional bodies relevant to SEA practice, such as SEA Associations, Planning Associations, etc are listed here.
Staff of the EIA project for Central America, a tool for sustainable development from IUCN and CCAD.
Sets out any ongoing training programmes (including professional and academic training) and major training events held in the past (with focus on recent events).
From 2006 onwards, officials have been receiving training through the EIA Project in Central America provided by UICN.
Non-governmental SEA guidance
Lists any SEA manuals and good practice publications (including checklists, case studies) that have been published by parties other than government.
Guidelines on Strategic Environmental Assessment for Central America (CCAD-UICN, 2007).
Links to laws/regulation
Links to relevant SEA laws or regulations.
- Official website of Government of the Republic of Panama, available at:
Other relevant links on SEA
Other relevant links on SEA in the country are given here.
- General information on the Panama Republic :
- Contact information on the Government of Panama:
http://www.pa/secciones/gobierno/index.php # Ministries
- EIA project for Central America, a tool for sustainable development from IUCN and CCAD:
- Guidelines on Strategic Environmental Assessment for Central America. (CCAD-UICN, 2007): http://www.ccad.ws:8080/eia/documentos.php?cat=1