Panama Canal appoints its first Sustainability Officer

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The Panama Canal announces that engineer Ilya Espino de Marotta, Deputy Administrator of the Canal, will also serve as the Canal’s first Sustainability Officer. In this new role of the Panama Canal, Espino de Marotta will promote the creation of a more solid sustainability strategy, based on the historical environmental leadership of the Canal and developing business opportunities.

As Sustainability Officer, Espino de Marotta (pictured) will lead the development of a comprehensive sustainability strategy focused on decarbonisation, adaptation and corresponding transition. In collaboration with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank, the Canal is already in the process of finalising an inventory of its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and aims to complete an evaluation of climate risks by the end of the year. Also, the Canal will establish and implement more aggressive short-, medium- and long-term objectives for emissions reduction starting in fiscal year 2025.

“Sustainability is not new for the Canal, as its legacy is rooted in and depends on sustainability,” said Canal Administrator Ricaurte Vásquez Morales. “However, we recognise that we need to be more ambitious, something we have been moving towards for some time. As the Panama Canal, we have an important influence in enabling the transformation of the maritime industry, and this is an opportunity to diversify, grow and improve the way we do our business.

“To help us take advantage of this opportunity, I am proud to appoint Ilya Espino de Marotta as our first Sustainability Officer. “Ilya will build and expand our existing efforts, creating a more global and robust strategy across the landscape in which we operate.”

In addition to the appointment of a Sustainability Officer, the Channel is integrating responsibility for climate action throughout the leadership team and strengthening the commitment to sustainability in our business. According to Vice President of Finance, Víctor Vial, “this includes incorporating sustainability into more than $8.5 billion in capital investments planned for the next five years.”

“While the Panama Canal has long focused on sustainability, the accelerating implications of climate change require stronger action. As an international logistics centre we have the opportunity, not only to promote sustainability in the Panama Canal, but also to shape a more sustainable and productive ecosystem for global trade,” said Espino de Marotta.

“Our ambition is to achieve net zero GHG emissions by 2050. Over the next six months, we will publish the results of a world-class GHG inventory and commit to scientific targets supported by a tangible implementation plan. It’s not just about new projects, it’s about transforming our business, allowing our clients and employees to transform, so that together we act against climate change and succeed in a new economy,” said the Deputy Administrator.

Espino de Marotta began her career in the Canal in 1985 as the only marine engineer in the Industrial Division shipyard. Over time, she became Executive Vice President of Engineering, supervising and leading the Panama Canal Expansion Program, in 2019 she assumed the Vice President of Operations. In January 2020, Espino de Marotta was appointed Deputy Administrator of the Panama Canal, making history as the first woman to hold the position.