Latin America

Guatemala has an abundance of biodiversity and natural resources, such as rivers and lakes, minerals, tropical forests, and fertile soil. Even though it has the largest economy in Central America, with a GDP per capita of US$3,500, unequal redistribution of income contributes to many social problems. To help reduce this inequality and promote sustainable development, Guatemala is focusing on quantifying how natural capital supports the economy and integrating this information into development policy and planning.

Guatemala has a long background in constructing natural capital accounts. In 2006, a public-private-academic partnership funded by the Dutch Government and facilitated by Rafael Landívar University used the United Nations System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) methodology to construct accounts for forests, water, energy and emissions, groundwater resources, fisheries, land and ecosystems, as well as environmental spending. Findings from 2001-2010 have now been published. To build on these efforts, WAVES-Guatemala was officially launched in March 2014. 

WAVES in Guatemala

The WAVES work plan includes incorporating the natural capital accounting approach in the National Environmental Report; standardizing existing natural capital accounts data; and updating the forest accounts. (Read Frequently Asked Questions here: General and Private Sector)

Scoping study: This study collected feedback from governmental institutions as well as interviews with economists unconnected to the environmental sector. The findings identified both opportunities as well as technical and political challenges to institutionalizing natural capital accounting in Guatemala. 

Flow and asset accounts: WAVES Guatemala is updating the flow and assets accounts of the SEEA Central Framework, setting as priorities energy and emissions, water, forests, subsoil assets, and waste accounts. This data can help political stakeholders to better understand the links between the environment and the economy. 

Ecosystem accounts: WAVES is supporting the update of the country’s ecosystem accounts so that public and private stakeholders can have greater insight into the social, economic, environmental, and strategic relevance of Guatemala’s many different ecosystems.

Environmental-agriculture accounts: Guatemala will be the first WAVES country to undertake this type of account, intended to inform decisions on pressing food security issues. 

The story so far

WAVES is working with Rafael Landívar University to update accounts. Guatemala has made significant progress on forest-related accounts and on using the land and ecosystem accounts to assess the ecological integrity of the country’s ecoregions. The National Forestry Institute (NFI) is actively involved and is working with the university to refine the results of the accounts.

Progress on energy and emission accounts, as well as ecosystem accounts, has been slower than expected due to the change in counterparts in institutions that originally began work on these accounts.

WAVES lead government agency

Secretariat of Planning and Programming of the Presidency (SEGEPLAN)

World Bank/WAVES contacts

Juan-Pablo Castañeda, WAVES Secretariat