First National Dialogue on Circular Economy and Green Industrial Development in Guatemala

On June 23, 2022, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), together with the Ministry of Public Finance (MINFIN), Ministry of Economy (MINECO), and Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN), held the first discussion on "Circular Economy and Green Industrial Development" in Guatemala. In attendance were representatives of the public, private sectors, and academia, who shared their perspectives on the progress and challenges circular economy and green industrial development have at the national level.


Opening speakers included the Head of the Climate Change Mitigation Department, MARN, Saúl Pérez, and the UNIDO Regional Office for Mexico and Central America Representative, Cristiano Pasini. After their speeches, they gave way to a discussion to exchange views and opinions with those present.


In this first conversation, the programmatic support for Guatemala was highlighted, focused on three areas of work: Environmental Fiscal Strategy, Just Transition, Green Jobs, and Green Recovery, as explained by Ximena Villagrán of the PAGE (Partnership for Action on Green Economy) program in Guatemala.


During this event, Marielena Ayala, an international consultant in sustainable industrial development, extensively described the concepts of circular economy and green industrial development. Meanwhile, PAGE's consultant for UNIDO, María Pía Alonso, shared success stories from Uruguay and Argentina on the subject, which the audience received with great interest.


The virtual chat was attended by more than 120 participants and moderated by Franz Mayer, UNIDO Focal Point for PAGE. Mayer gave way to the panel for the exchange of experiences, actions, and strategies needed to promote the circular economy and green industrial development from the private and public perspectives. Carlos Archila from MINECO, Magnolia López from MARN, Daniel García from the Chamber of Industry of Guatemala (CIG), Francisco Sedano from BIOREM and Gamaliel Zambrano from the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala (UVG).


In his participation, Carlos Archila of MINECO indicated that the Ministry of Economy, through the National Quality System, participates in a National Infrastructure Program for Quality and the Circular Economy in Latin America and Guatemala. For her part, Magnolia López of MARN emphasized that the main challenge at the national level is to have a National Circular Economy Policy, not to follow the international trend but because of national concern about waste generation. She also commented on the possibility of extending MARN's current incentives for cleaner production to the circular economy.


"The private sector already has access to clean technologies. The main gap is investing in research, development, and innovation. We spend less than 1% of our GDP in these areas," stated Daniel Garcia of the Chamber of Industry of Guatemala.


"Recycling is part of the circular economy, but it is also necessary to avoid generating waste. BIOREM works to generate solutions that reduce pollution. There are more and more actors and connections between industries in this sector," said Francisco Sedano of BIOREM. At the same time, Engineer Gamaliel Zambrano of UVG highlighted the importance of advancing the training of professionals and the need for funding to develop research on these topics at the academic level.


When the event concluded, Saúl Figueroa, Vice Minister of Revenue and Fiscal Evaluation of the Ministry of Public Finance stressed the need to strengthen public finances to ensure all services provided by the State of Guatemala and the development of a circular economy at the national level. He also reiterated that multisectoral alliances would allow the formulation of sustainable economic policies and practices that promote environmentally friendly development.


All participants recognized circular economy as a key tool for achieving national sustainable development and was therefore declared a priority issue for the general policy of the Guatemalan government. All speakers concluded that the next step should be the creation of the National Circular Economy Policy.