Case of Success: The Authority of the Panama Canal - Oscar Vallarino

Case of Success: The Authority of the Panama Canal - Oscar Vallarino

Case of Success


Inaugurated on August 14, 1914 (101 years of operation), achieving the shortening of time and distance of maritime communication, boosting trade and economic exchange by providing a short transit route between the two oceans, decisively driving global trade patterns, boosting economic growth in developed and developing countries, as well as providing the basic impetus for the economic expansion of many remote regions of the world; the Authority of the Panama Canal has been distinguished among the most ethical companies in the world, as an institute that promotes good corporate practices.

Let's start with a video:

The Great Connection - Panama Canal

Imagine ...stopping the water, changing the horizon and to moving it to another place, dimensions that cover the sun; to create what does not exist, transform the world map and do so without hesitation or stopping for a second.

Imagine that your country did this.

You do not have to imagine it anymore.

The great connection...

And this is just beginning.

Good morning to all. Thank you very much for the opportunity to share with you, many thanks to all the sponsors and the people of Paraguay for this great opportunity.

Today I want to share a bit of the experience we have had in the Panama Canal, with regards to what are the processes of Corporate Social Responsibility.

Panama, as you know, is a logistics and transportation hub for the Americas: we connect 144 trade routes in more than 1,700 ports, 160 countries around the world. The air hub of Panama now also has 69 destinations in more than 30 countries. The objective of Panama is to reach the maximum potential of its geographical position.

As you know, in September of ’77 the Torrijo-Carter Treaties were signed, which gave a birth date for the regression of the Panama Canal and the territories that were occupied by American bases. On December 31st, 22 years later, that process ends and reverses the Panama Canal and all its areas of influence.

Then, 16 years later, we extended it, on June 26, 2016; the canal is now available to capture twice as much cargo, a faster and greener route.

We have been able to work with a system of water saving tubs, which reduce water use by 7%, 60% is reused at each step of each vessel; we have also been able to capture more water in our reservoirs, because part of our constitutional title implies that the Panama Canal must guarantee the use of water for the populations of the cities of Panama and Colon, which are the largest populations, with more than 3 million of the country's 4 million inhabitants.

I will speak from the company, human capital, environment, community, customers and suppliers, and the state.


The Panama Canal is a legal entity that represents the country, from the point of view that has a constitutional title where the company regulates itself; this gives continuity over the years. Just as we have an inalienable patrimony of the nation: the Canal cannot be mortgaged, cannot be sold, it is patrimony of all the Panamanians, and we are only the guardian of the collection that has the Canal.

It is also important that we are open to the world: we are a Peace Canal, we are a Canal that allows uninterrupted transits to all nations.

Recently, while adjusting our vision and our mission, we changed our vision to be leader in global connectivity, promoter of the progress of Panama. Our mission: to contribute in a sustainable way to the prosperity of Panama through our valuable human resource (which is the most important), connecting the production of global markets to bring value to our customers.

Social Responsibility, as we see it and have already sampled through previous presenters, are the 3 areas, where we have: environmental protection, conservation of natural resources; prosperity, economy; and continuity, social welfare, and equity.

Our stakeholders are diverse (we have more than 10,000 employees in the Panama Canal): employees, community, environment, suppliers, customers; and we contribute significantly to the state.


Our human capital, as I said, is the most important, we have internal programs towards the authority of occupational health and safety, training and development, equity and recognition, labor rights, and above all, to promote a better quality of life within our collaborators.


The environmental part. To explain, a little, that in the watershed of the Panama Canal, which has more than 330,000 acres, approximately 185,000 people live there. We cannot conserve water, which is the important resource, if we do not have the participation of communities and their good development and quality of life. We have, as I said, that constitutional mandate, where we work in many ways which I will mention.

The basin is also rich in biodiversity. Panama is a bridge of the world, it connects the north with the south, migratory birds, and species of all kinds; we have a rich flora and fauna that is part of our natural heritage.


How do we make the natural link when it is our corporate social responsibility to ensure a safe operation, guarantee the water consumption of more than half the population, and ensure this in quality and quantity, when water use, consumption, recreation, economic activities, the pressure of the use of the ground, every day is greater? Discharges, solid waste, deforestation, inadequate land use... And therefore, this leads to effects on the population, such as shortages of water, diseases, soil loss, and vulnerability to natural disasters, increasingly with change climate.

I will talk about some basic programs that we have in this basin:

-The program of economic environmental incentives; a cadaster and land titling program, to give the property title to its rightful owners, who are the people living in the basin; conservation of the environment and work training; and the corporate volunteer part.


We have a network throughout the Canal basin, where people can express themselves and give their opinion; and we collect all that information to work out plans in the different basins. We graduate about a thousand students every year, with a program of the Canal Authority, where we provide training in masonry, modern technologies, electricity, dressmaking, office, tourism, construction..., in short, all kinds of facilities so people can have and be able to do a decent job in our country.

These programs also involve the construction of health centers or schools, while training residents in the communities.


We have 52 hydrographic basins or micro-basins within the Canal basin, with more than thirty organizations in each sub-basin, we participate in community meetings through advisory councils that group these micro-basins to find solutions and protect water resources and natural resources.

We have already been 20... I would say, rather, 16 years with this model of managing water resources, which has worked very well in Panama. This encourages food security by working with producers in different areas (as you can see in the photos).

Our cadaster and titling program, where the Canal facilitates the delivery of property titles, so that those communities and those owners can stay on the land and promote a better profit.

We have environmental education programs in more than one hundred schools in the basin, where we train children from an early age, in all that is the protection of the environment.

The Panama Canal is a company and an industrial development; internally we have, all that is the corporate management in the environmental part, handling fluorescent lamps, recovery and management of used solvents, recovery and handling of metal waste.

It is a company that really cares about the environment: treatment and recovery of bilge and used oil from ships, control of emissions to the atmosphere, we also produce energy for the operation of the Canal and sell to the country's energy grid, in addition to producing potable water in three water treatment plants.

The Canal is a little more than passing ships, we have many programs for the community and we try to create that spirit and that “give back” to the community by doing things well.

Social Responsibility is is explained in many ways, but it is doing things right. Let's look for ways to do things better every day.

We have management of oils, lubricants, derivatives of hydrocarbons, recycling processes... anyway. Prevention, signaling, emergency response, organization of areas; and a recycling program, the largest in Panama, which is delivered to the Office of the First Lady, to do social works throughout the country.

We have a wildlife rescue program to move the animals in areas where we have impacts, to the national parks that exist in the basin, which are more than five, and preserve almost 60% of the entire hydrographic basin of the Panama Canal.

The Canal is a green route. The Panama Canal and maritime transport actually decreases CO2 emissions. A vessel of 10,000 containers is equivalent (to give you an idea) to transporting cargo in 18, 8,000-foot trains, equivalent to 43.5 kilometers of aligned trains, more than 5,800 trucks, 97 kilometers of lined trucks and more than 570 aircraft.

The route through Panama, through the Panama Canal, will still cause major impacts on the reduction; we have estimated that in the next 10 years, as the Canal has expanded, more cargo will pass using fewer vessels: we will reduce to the environment, approximately 160 million tons of CO2.

I want to end the volunteer part. We have spoken of creating values, of living values. The Panama Canal has been increasing its team of volunteers, there we have figures up to 15; this year we have already spent 200,000 volunteer hours and more than 3,500 volunteers. We work in the environmental areas, integral well-being, culture, community development, education...; we participate actively in all the activities at national level where they allow the volunteer of the Canal to contribute with their bit of sand, to contribute to have a better country.

We have many programs where we bring children from all the schools to know the Canal, where we have collaborators who go to the river basin to work with the children of the schools; relays for life, we work with children with disabilities; in short, a whole series of community works that we do with pleasure. We create awareness, we create community. We have programs that go nationally distributing and making known what is the work of the Canal in the entire country of Panama.


The Panama Canal is connectivity, profitability, reliability and communication. In that sense, we promote broad competition.

The issue of transparency and ethics: all our bids are given on the internet, open. Our code of ethics and conduct for suppliers is where we train the suppliers that are part of the Canal, and we see them as one more collaborator. That's part of what we do every day on the Canal.


Finally, transparency and accountability, internal controls system, external auditors, corporate values, contributions and economic contributions to the country.

The Canal is approximately one-third of the country's GDP and accounts for almost 78% of all other related activities of our country's per capita income.

We also have contribution to education, “Cultural Summer” (a Canal program); ae have buses that travel the country taking the Canal to the whole national territory; congress and seminars; and we work on corporate values.

I want to close with a video of what was the inauguration of the Canal expansion. This really, for the Panamanians, was incredible. This creates country, creates joint action and creates wills.

I leave you with the video, thank you very much.

Video of the Inauguration of the Canal expansion: