Explore historical and projected climate data, climate data by sector, impacts, key vulnerabilities and what adaptation measures are being taken. Explore the overview for a general context of how climate change is affecting Guatemala.


Based on the 2004 “Climate Change Studies in Guatemala with Emphasis on Adaptation” project, conducted by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN) in collaboration with the Netherlands Climate Assistance Program, the Government of Guatemala developed a National Climate Change Programme in 2006. It studied adaptation to climate change in the dry regions of the country and assessed the ability of local, regional, and national players to respond to the impacts of climate variability and change. Other focal areas include supporting forestry and agroforestry projects, implementing adaption requirements in the human health, water resources, and agriculture sectors, and incorporating the subject of climate change into municipal and institutional agendas. Over the last decade, the Government of Guatemala has moved towards a more proactive disaster risk management approach to address vulnerability in the region. Guatemala has laid out plans to develop sectoral policies and actions related to integrated coastal management, crop monitoring, disease surveillance, climate information and early warning systems by 2030.

Adaptation Options for Key Sectors

  • Since different varieties of the same cultivation can adapt to different conditions of temperature and water and humidity, policies and programs should be implemented that encourage genetic diversity in the cultivation of basic grains.
  • Rotation of cultivations should be encouraged to replenish soil nutrients and avoid soil degradation, erosion, and desertification.
  • Government programs should be created for seed banks to preserve native varieties that could be used during future climate variability.
  • Considering many people in rural areas already face malnutrition, crop diversification and alternative food sources should be developed to ensure food security.
  • Use El Nino Southern Oscillation-based climate forecasts as a tool for agricultural planning strategies and adaptive measures.
  • Promote agroforestry and adaptive management with suitable species and practices for different climate zones.
  • Integrate principles of agroforestry to mitigate improper land use and deforestation.
  • Encourage research and monitoring programs to quantify the local surface energy balance and requirements.
  • Enact integral water management and watershed policies that are region specific.
  • Water catchment and storage through the use of reservoirs that could be also used for hydroelectric generation, irrigation, and water supply.
  • Improve response measures, early warning systems, and increase municipality expenditures for water treatment and access and health care services.
  • Implement risk management policies to mitigate the effects of drought and flooding, especially in rural areas.
  • Develop health education programs to foster better sanitation practices for those relying on river or secondary water sources.

Gaps and Needs

  • The density and number of weather stations is very limited. It has been noted that the number of weather stations in Guatemala has declined in recent years in part due to fiscal constraints in the maintenance of equipment and trained personnel.
  • With only 5 climate stations used for the First Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (San Marcos, Catarina, Retalhuleu, Río San José, Ipala and the Mita Station) the department of Seismology, Volcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology’s (INSIVUMEH) weather and climate monitoring infrastructure is lacking.
  • The studies of future vulnerability under the First Communication included socioeconomic settings for the indigenous populations that are skewed when compared to other sources. Vulnerability and impact assessments need to be performed in the dry corridor to better adapt risk management and land use practices.
  • Impact studies need to be performed on water quality and quantity as there is a discrepancy in how many households actually receive piped water and its level of quality. Also, no government entity is responsible for controlling and monitoring national water quality and thus there is no accurate data on levels and types of pollution.
  • Impact studies are needed on the temperature and precipitation threshold of staple crops, and possible duration and seasonality so the population plant crops which are more adept at dealing with reduce soil moisture. Also, studies on crops that are resistant to pests and diseases and that are fire resistant should be performed.
  • To date, adaptation projects and activities have focused on governance and capacity building (mostly for government institutions), as well as more local-level issues related to water and agriculture. Projects relating to forests tend to focus on mitigation rather than adaptation. Despite being a significant concern, there are no current or proposed activities associated with the health sector.
  • Studies conducted in two watersheds in the context of a regional adaptation program identified adaptation measures for water and food security. For water, the report proposes action on sanitation, demand management, irrigation, water storage, forest protection and reforestation, flood protection and early warning systems. For food security, recommendations include organizational, commercial, technological, financial, normative and territorial measures to vitalize the food production chain.
  • The country does not have effective mechanisms for disseminating weather information to communities and various sectors of society. This hinders risk management and preparation and adaption measures.
  • Strategic environmental impact assessments including zoning plans are needed to improve infrastructure planning.
  • During a European Union Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (DG ECHO) needs assessment mission, partners reported that some populations in the more remote areas were not been taken into account in the government assessment, which is especially troubling as these groups are the most impacted by adverse weather events and climate change.