Historically, the Guatemalan economy has relied heavily on the export of agricultural products (e.g., coffee, banana, vegetables, sugar cane, oil palm, etc.), activities that have had major impacts on the country’s natural resources and environment. Although the country’s economy has transitioned, over the last three decades, towards a diversified mixture of services (particularly tourism), industry, and agriculture, many of these activities still make heavy use of natural resources and put significant and not sufficiently mitigated pressures on the environment, biodiversity, and ecosystems. Crop irrigation plus livestock ranching, forestry, and hunting consume 31.9% of the water used in the country, and industry (including industrial coffee processing) consumes another 37.5%. Rapid population growth and the development of such activities have had significant impacts on environmental quality (e.g., water pollution, solid waste disposal, soil degradation). 

Aiming for a more sustainable socio-economic development path that reduces or prevents the depletion of the country’s natural resources, has lower impacts on the environment, and reduces environmental degradation is crucial.


Key policies and governance approach

Aware of its heavy reliance on the use of natural resources and the environmental costs of this, Guatemala has embraced the concepts of green growth and sustainable development and has taken steps to mainstream them into major national policies.

For instance, the fourth strategic axis (Natural resources for today and the future) of Guatemala’s National Development Plan Katún 2032 [1], aims to protect and enhance the country’s natural resources in harmony with its social, cultural, economic, and territorial development in order to sustainably meet the population’s current and future needs, with resilience before natural hazards.

The Guatemalan government adopted its National Policy on Clean Production [2] in 2010. The policy aims to promote the adoption of production and consumption patterns into the Guatemalan economy in order to make the country’s economic development more sustainable.

In addition, Guatemala formulated its Low Emissions National Development Strategy [3] in 2018. The strategy aims to delineate a path for promoting the country’s economic and social Development while reducing GHG emissions.


Supporting the implementation of Guatemala’s National Policy on Clean Production and its Low Emissions National Development Strategy will require the active participation of the country’s private sector and would benefit from support from the international community.