USAID has partnered with the Government of Guatemala to develop a five-year Low Emissions Development Strategy (LEDS).

Creating a Shared Vision for Guatemala’s Path to Self-Reliance

By Jennifer Park, Jonathan Schwarz, Xiomara Lima

More than three dozen policy proposals related to sustainable economic growth, chosen in a transparent and participatory process by representatives from across Guatemalan society, are expected to enjoy broad support when the country’s overarching low emission development strategy is launched this November.

Guatemala is part of a global movement to place its economy on a path toward greater efficiency and cleaner, less resource-intensive growth. As in many countries, historical economic growth in Guatemala has resulted in more pollution, including greater greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In Guatemala’s case, this is due primarily to agriculture, deforestation and other changes in land use, and the energy sector.

However, the country has committed to reducing its emissions by at least 11 percent by the year 2030. To grow its economy without growing emissions, Guatemala will need to consider its economic development decisions carefully.


Guatemala´s LEDS promotes innovation and the adoption of technologies that increase efficiency and reduce GHG emissions.

To inform these decisions, USAID is partnering with the Government of Guatemala (GOG) under the five-year Guatemala Low Emissions Development Strategy (LEDS) Project. Implemented by RTI, the project is helping Guatemala develop a national LEDS and build institutional capacity to reduce the effects of climate change and reduce GHG emissions. The project uses field demonstrations, science and analytics to provide evidence on the opportunities for and benefits of low emission development. For example, it helped with the country’s newly established GHG emissions forecast through 2050 which is informing decision making.

One of the project’s greatest successes has been engaging public, private, academic, civil society and indigenous representatives. Despite differing stakeholder objectives, this engagement led to a shared vision and a joint path forward for low emission development. These actors have not often convened around the same table, but by working through the international non-profit Center for Climate Strategies’ 10-step methodology, the LEDS project has facilitated a stakeholder-based, country-driven process.

Stepwise LEDS Planning and Analysis Process developed by the Center for Climate Strategies


The international non-profit Center for Climate Strategies' 10-step methodology has served as a guiding principle in developing Guatemala's Low Emissions Development Strategy (LEDS).

To establish transparent, participatory processes, the LEDS project has brought together these disparate representatives to form sectoral working groups in agriculture, forestry and other land uses (FOLU), energy, transportation, waste, industry and urban development. Working group participants contribute to the national planning process by prioritizing actions that advance their economic development goals while reducing emissions in support of Guatemala’s long-term international commitments. In the face of high turnover in government personnel, a process whereby private sector, academia and civil society help shape policy sets a stronger foundation for long-term sustainability.

Over the course of two years, the LEDS project has facilitated six working group sessions, which have been held approximately every four months. The sessions focused on:

  1. Establishment of a GHG emission baseline and forecast through 2050 and definition of a vision for long-term development.
  2. Review of potential policy options that address the country’s major emission sources and support economic growth.
  3. Selection of priority LEDS policy options for each sectoral working group.
  4. Review of initial policy designs, including goals, objectives, related policy frameworks and implementation mechanisms.
  5. Demonstration of the microeconomic benefits for priority policies, including the investment required or cost savings for each ton of carbon dioxide reduced.
  6. Demonstration of the macroeconomic benefits for priority LEDS policies, which includes an assessment of their contribution to job creation, gross domestic product and other economic variables.

By serving as a facilitator rather than designer of policy, the project encouraged ownership of the process by encouraging the sectoral working groups to choose policy options. Each of the seven groups has identified as many as nine policy options they feel are most feasible for their sector. For example, the agriculture working group has prioritized policy options such as the promotion of sustainable livestock management and agroforestry systems, and the FOLU working group, policy options such as the conservation and improved management of forests and restoration of degraded areas.

By October 2018, project staff will compile the resulting 43 policy options and finalize the national Low Emission Development Strategy. The process will culminate in a public launch of Guatemala’s LEDS in November 2018.

Learn more about the LEDS project at

Strategic Objective
Adaptation, Emissions, Forestry, Land Use, Sustainable Landscapes
Latin America & Caribbean

Jennifer Park

Jennifer Park leads projects and business development for an international development team specializing in climate change, natural resources, and biodiversity. She is actively strategizing and seeking opportunities in sustainable landscapes, resilience, urban development, and similar fields. She is a skilled relationship builder with experience managing contracts for USAID, the World Bank, United Nations agencies, and other government and private clients.

Jonathan Schwarz

Jonathan Schwarz is an environmental scientist in our Learning, Energy, and Environment for Development group. He provides technical and operational support to a wide range of USAID-funded projects, specializing in water resources and ecosystem management, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and environmental policy.

Xiomara Lima

Xiomara Lima

Xiomara Lima, currently the Communications Specialist for RTI International on the USAID Guatemala Low Emission Development Project, has been working in strategic communications for over 20 years and on climate change issues since 2012.

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