Capital city of Panama with 1.7 million inhabitants, Panama City is located between the Pacific Ocean and the Darien tropical rain forest, characterised by a wealthy biodiversity and marine ecosystem. This led to the development of a rich gastronomy history based on diverse cultures and natural resources displayed in the city’s 2,477 restaurants and food kiosks. Designated as the next Ibero-American Capital of Culture in 2019, Panama City presents a thriving creative sector, currently employing 58,000 people and contributing 6.4% to the GDP.
Panama City’s chefs are key actors in forging the vibrant gastronomy sector. In 2010, Chef Elena Hernández founded the city’s oldest food fair, the Panamá Gastronómica, with a view to promoting Panama as a hub of flavours. Chef Hernández is also the main advocate for the Women Chefs against Cancer initiative. Developed by five renowned young chefs, the Paila project is a flagship organisation promoting social responsibility through gastronomy. They coordinate events such as the Fonda Urbana Vol.1 project which aims to raise funds for low-income households.
To support the gastronomy sector, ‘Collaboratory’ is the main concept underpinning the Strategic Programme of Panama City. Among other projects, the Biogastronomic Collaborator will be established as a knowledge management and R&D platform, using science to assist the development of Panamanian intercultural gastronomy. The predominant strategy focusing on sustainable development within the city is the Panama Metropolitan Plan: Sustainable, Human and Global initiative. This strategy aims to provides new inputs for comprehensive and multisectoral planning, such as analysis based on the historical growth in the city’s urban footprint and potential future expansion, the value of the territory through various comparative indicators and the active participation of citizens.
As Creative City of Gastronomy, Panama City envisages:
- developing the Collaboratory Programme as an inclusive governance practice of urban transformation through creative intercultural gastronomy, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development;
- promoting Gastronomic Corridors in the city as urban management tools promoting economic development within the city’s gastronomy sector;
- enhancing cooperation with other cities, particularly those from under-represented regions within the UCCN, through collaborative initiatives;
- promoting, as the next Ibero-American Capital of Culture, the UCCN goals in the Ibero-American region as well as through the Ibercocinas Programme;
- creating technological tools that connect every part of the gastronomy value chain though the Collaboratory of Technologies project; and
- strengthening ‘gastrodiplomacy’ as part of the Panamanian National Strategy of Cultural Diplomacy.