Panama Canal’s Hire Serves Maritime Sustainability Efforts

Credit: Canal de Panama | A glimpse of the North to South America maritime trade route
The New Hire for Panama Canal is Ilya Espino de Marotta, Who Will Drive Sustainability in the Maritime Supply Chain Industry as its First-Ever CSO

The global supply chain industry is reliant on major waterways to deliver goods and services across the globe, but management of these spaces come with their own emissions commitments. 

Managing one of the key trade routes in the west of the world is Panama Canal (or Canal de Panama), which manages vessel traffic and tolls for 180 maritime routes, serving 170 countries through support of smooth operations in the industry. 

The Panama Canal has majorly impacted the growth of the sector it was built over a Century ago. It’s approximately 80 km long and sits between the atlantic and pacific oceans, built in one of the narrowest of the continent as a byway for ships linking North and South America. 

Since it was opened in 1914, the canal’s revenue increased exponentially, earning four billion panamanian balboa (US$4bn) in 2021. 

Building on a critical maritime route sustainably 

While the focus for the organisation that manages the canal has been centred around the supply chain industry, it turns its attention towards sustainability, and the most recent hire shows this commitment. 

Deputy Administrator Ilya Espino de Marotta will now become the Chief Sustainability Officer—the first to be appointed at the company in its 100+ year history. Espino de Marotta has been with the organisation for over 20 years, starting as an engineer and, after five years, moved into the Executive Manager role for resources management and project controls. This marked the first rung of the corporate ladder that allowed her to engage with teams as a leader and built upon the Canal’s operational performance. 

“While the Panama Canal has long focused on sustainability, the accelerating implications of climate change require stronger action,” says Espino de Marotta. 

“As an international trade hub, we have an opportunity to not only drive sustainability at the Panama Canal, but also help shape a more sustainable and productive ecosystem for global trade.”

In her new position, Espino de Marotta will focus on developing a comprehensive sustainability strategy, considering elements such as decarbonisation, adaptation, and energy transition. Her role has already seen her work with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), which is part of the World Bank Group, and this collaboration has almost finalised the inventory of Panama Canal’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions

Alongside the financial institution, she will also formalise a climate risk assessment by the end of 2024. 

“Our ambition is to reach net-zero GHG emissions by or around 2050. In the next six months, we will publish the results of a best-in-class GHG inventory and commit to science-based targets backed by a tangible implementation plan,” adds Espino de Marotta.

“This is not just about new projects, this is about transforming our business, enabling our customers and employees to transform, so that together we navigate climate risk and succeed in a new climate economy.”


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