When it actually set in that I was going to be part of this dynamic program, numerous ideas crossed my mind. The reality of what I actually experienced was completely different than what I had imagined. I had not grasped the full importance of Wetlands International, or the challenges that they face. The presenters, many of which are part of Panamanglar network and environmental or UN experts displayed astounding knowledge and their drive to achieve a healthier, more sustainable planet cannot be described in just one simple blog. Becoming involved with the global non-profit organization with an office in Panamá, would be the best way to experience the gift of knowledge that Wetlands International has to offer locally or globally.
Taking a tour of the city; both rich and poor, allowed me to see firsthand the huge gap in equality. We then learned that the development of some of the infrastructures in more effluent areas, and the loss of protected areas surrounding less effluent areas are directly related to the flooding of those less effluent areas. The families that are affected the most are those with the least amount of resources. This really forces us to rethink about the current and future development plans in and around the city. Protecting the natural areas will in fact protect those whom may not have the resources to protect themselves.
Visiting with the professionals about the formally protected areas helped put it all together and really showed that the protection of these areas must be enforced at all levels, as threats to them are abundant. I have gained a better understanding of just how challenging it is to implement the changes that are needed to emphasize the protection of such a valuable resource. One of the obstacles to overcome is educating everyone on how valuable this resource is and how detrimental the loss of it would be.
Wetlands International is an amazing group that is working towards a better world for all. I could not have asked for a greater learning experience. I look forward to healthier more sustainable future because the work done by Wetlands International and other organizations with the same goals.
By Devin Rayburn
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