Strengthening Environmental Governance in the face of Climate Risks in Guatemala

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The United Nations Joint Programme aimed to develop environmental governance mechanisms in order to strengthen the capability to adapt to climate change in a democratic and inclusive way in Guatemala, and particularly among the most vulnerable of the population. This was done through the implementation of three national policies and pilot interventions at the decentralized level. In order to achieve this, the Programme strengthened mechanisms which enable the good management of environmental interests and the adaptability to climate change for localities, towns, communities and regions in Guatemala’s Dry Corridor.


The Joint Programme developed mechanisms to strengthen environmental governance, especially water governance, and the capacity of adaptation to climate change, especially for the most vulnerable, the poor. These mechanisms were developed in a democratic and inclusive way, at the sub-national level in six departments of the country’s Dry Corridor.

The Programme was based on the experience of three United Nations Agencies (UNDP, FAO and UNICEF) and four institutions from the Guatemala Government (MARN, MAGA, MOH and SEGEPLAN) whose experience and synergies contributed to the overall achievements of the Programme’s outcomes.


  • The governmental bodies of the Dry Corridor in six regions developed proposals on how to implement a coordinated public policy on environmental governance.
  • Families and community organizations actively participated in decision making in order to manage natural resources in the six regions of the Dry Corridor.
  • The local governmental bodies and communities of the six regions of the Dry Corridor are following best practices for the integral water use and sustainable domestic and agricultural consumption.
  • The governmental bodies of the Dry Corridor, the communities, families, local governments and districts of the six regions negotiated environmental financing mechanisms, with particular emphasis on water management.
  • There was a hydro-forestry Round Table in Baja Verapaz.


There was a significant delay in the UN Programme’s implementation. The official starting date was 3 August 2008. However, field operations suffered a delay of almost eight months. This delay was mainly related to the operational design and coordination of the Programme.

A substantive revision of the Programme was adopted on 29 July 2009 by the National Steering Committee (NSC) and led to the following: (a) changes in the management, administration and coordination structure (b) change of the Results Framework, and (c) budgetary review and transfer of funds over the years.

The design of the Programme initially caused divisions amongst the authorities and lacked a common overall strategy. Improvements were made in this respect, establishing more correlation between the different areas and levels of action.

The Programme coordination was consolidated by the establishment of a Technical Management Committee and other relevant coordination structures at the beginning of the second year. This initiative represents a step towards a more unified UN system and a specific mechanism for implementing the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) in Guatemala.

The Tropical Storm Agatha and the eruption of the Pacaya Volcano were also challenges as were the general elections in November 2007.

Way Forward

In order to assure the sustainability of the Joint Programme, the following have been done:

  • Links between the different activities of the Programme and other initiatives have been established. These ensure the correlation and sustainability of the interventions. For example, the owners of reforested areas will receive compensation through the Forestry Incentives for Small Land Owners Programme (PINPEP), or the Forestry Incentives Programme (PINFOR). The latter is the Programme which complements the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (ACEID) project in the Copán Chortí community.
  • Links with the Management of the Health Area in Baja Verapaz and with the Special Unit for the Execution of Integral Development of Hydrographical Basins/MAGA have been strengthened. These guarantee the continuation of the work that the Programme supports in terms of water and decontamination as well as the management of natural resources and best practices.
  • The Hydro-Forestry Round Table of Baja Verapaz has been strengthened by the participation of representatives of local towns, government bodies dealing with forestry and environmental issues, the private forestry sector and civil society.
  • The establishment of seed funding mechanisms has been promoted by the mayors of the Mancomunidad del Valle (MANCOVALLE) from Baja Verapaz and community organizations in the area.

Read more about this JP on the MDG-F website.

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