Country Profile: 

Population (thousand): 16,342.90
Multidimensional Poverty Index : 0.13
Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index, Country Rank : 97
Gross Domestic Product per capita, at Purchasing Price Parity (US$): 7,706.7

Main counterparts: National Development Planning Agency of the Office of the Presidency (SEGEPLAN, Agencia Nacional de Planificación del Desarrollo de la Oficina de la Presidencia), Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (MARN), municipal authorities from the Eastern Region, and UNDP Guatemala.

Main objective: Improve the national development planning capacity in order to include ecosystem services and pro-poor equitable development in national and subnational policies and development planning processes.

Budget: USD 1,950,000 (USD 950,000 PEI; USD 1,000,000 co-funding).                  


Poverty-Environment mainstreaming context

Guatemala has one of the lowest human development indices (HDI) in Latin America (0.560 according to the HDR , ranking 116 out of 169) as well as the highest level of chronic malnutrition of the region (49.3% according to World Bank), occupying the fourth place of countries with chronic undernourishment worldwide.

The country suffers from high levels of inequality from structural causes such big gaps in wealth distribution. According to the National Survey of Living Conditions (ENCOVI), 51% of the population lives in poverty and 15.2% in extreme poverty, affecting people living in rural areas and Indigenous populations the most (75% poor and 27.4% extremely poor). This situation reduces access to the goods and resources necessary for well-being, especially for the most vulnerable people, Indigenous groups, women (who represent 51.5% of the poor), children, and the elderly.

Several reports indicate that, while the country’s natural wealth is considerable, so are the environmental challenges faced by the Guatemalan society. The country is located on three tectonic plates and is exposed to extreme weather events as it is located in the path of tropical storms from both the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans. In addition, aridification, drought, and desertification undermine the survival potential of poor populations. Guatemala is among the five most vulnerable countries in the world in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), with three or more threats, and 83.3% of its GDP generated in risk areas.

Beyond the country’s aggravated vulnerability during extreme climatic events, there are countless indicators showing the “territorial disorder” in which Guatemala lives: 37% of the land is underused and 15% is overused, resulting in ground erosion and pollution of water sources with solids, reduction of water’s capacity to infiltrate, silting of rivers, and floods. It is estimated that forest cover decreased by 58% between 1950 and 2005, less than 5% of the country’s populated areas have sewage treatment plants, and more than 40% of the Guatemala Department’s population lives in slums.

The incorporation of ecosystem services-related information to into planning processes is key to optimizing public investment as the increasing demand for this type of services can result in imbalances (both social and environmental), affecting their provision and the welfare of social groups depending on them.

The mainstreaming of the environmental dimension and the consideration impacts on ecosystems is crucial at all the levels of territorial planning: at the national level, by identifying strategic ecosystems, their valuation and development models associated to a land management rationale within the framework of the formulation of the country’s agenda; at the regional level, by analyzing the relation between ecosystem services (supply and demand) and food insecurity; and at the local level, by seeking to implement local (pilot) initiatives associated to fragile ecosystems, and a land and natural resources management approach within a sustainability framework.

 Main activities

  • Identification and characterization of the uses and services of the ecosystems and their contribution to the reduction of poverty of the population, to enhance the development of the country.
  • Formation and strengthening of the national inter-institutional commission (SEGEPLAN, MARN, CONAP, INAB, MEM) for the mainstreaming of the valuation of ecosystem services and the incorporation of indicators to the framework of the national development agenda 2032.
  • Design of a communication strategy to strengthen the valuation between territorial planning and its link to ecosystem services of the territory.
  • Conformation of the regional inter-institutional commission for the formulation of the Regional Development Plan of the Dry Corridor, prioritizing the identification of ecosystem services.
  • Gathering of information and creation of the territorial vision for the dry corridor region.
  • Elaboration of a regional development plan for the dry corridor, including a group of programmes and projects identified by development axes.
  • Conformation of a commission between the different municipalities articulated around the valuation of the coastal ecosystem.
  • Gathering of information and creation of a territorial vision for the sub-region including territorial planning guidelines.
  • Elaboration of three plans of territorial planning including a group of programmes and projects by development axes and a local regulation with an ecosystem and reduction of poverty approach
  • Creation of a methodological guide for the management of territorial planning at local level with an ecosystem and reduction of poverty approach.




  • Mainstreaming of environmental variables into the National Development Plan: K’atun Our 2032 Guatemala, through its inclusion in a specific chapter, and precise goals and indicators based on water and priority ecosystem studies elaborated with project´s support.
  • Production of a draft National Spatial Planning Policy by a Commission appointed within the CONADUR.
  • Collection of information and development of a territorial vision for the Eastern Region as a result of the project intervention. On the basis of such vision, a Comprehensive Development Plan for the Eastern Region with an ecosystem-based approach has been approved and implemented. The Plan aims to adopt a territorial management system focused on ecosystem preservation and public/private investments for the reduction of food insecurity.
  • Elaboration of an ecosystem assessment and valuation of the Chiquimulilla Channel area, using InVEST methodologies and Targeted Scenario Analysis (TSA) to inform public policy decision-making.
  • Conduction of a training on land management in coastall-marine areas in collaboration with the Global Environment Facility (GEF) for capacity building of the Municipal Planning Departments where key institutions, and project technicians and coordinators are a preliminary step for the subsequent elaboration of land management municipal plans for the channel area, based on the results of the previous exercise.




Key Documents