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Updated to: 27 June 2011Download as PDF
Country contact on EIA
Contact details for the country contact on EIA.
General Directory of Environmental Management and Natural Resources
Adress: 20 calle 28-58 zona 10, Edificio MARN, 2do Nivel, Torre II
Tel: (502) 2423-0500 or 2202
History of EIA
Brief description of the history of the EIA system in the country, including when it was introduced and any major milestones in its development.
In Guatemala the legislation of environmental impact assessment began in 1986, based on the Law for Environmental Protection and Improvement (Decree No. 68-86) and with the creation of the National Committee for the Environment (Comisión Nacional del Medio Ambiente; CONAMA). In 1990, the CONAMA approved the "instruction for EIA procedure", which was in force until 1997. The Law for Environmental Protection and Improvement was amended in 1993. It modified and extended Article 8, to give competition to the CONAMA on approval of Environmental Impact Assessment Studies, prior to the implementation of a project. The competences for EIA approval were transferred to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN) in 1997.
In 1998 CONAMA issued a new EIA procedure which was in force until January 2003. The 2003 regulation for environmental assessment, control and monitoring (Governmental Agreement No. 23) set out the procedures for the evaluation, control and monitoring procedure. In 2002 the Central American Plan for environmental impact assessment was approved, which had a clear influence on instruments contained in the national regulation of 2003. This regulation was amended in 2007 (by Governmental Agreement No. 431-2007). This is the current regulation. This was a centralized system let by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. However, in 2009 departmental and regional delegations of the MARN were created (by Ministerial Agreement no. 676). Those delegations were assigned, among other things, provisions of EIA of agreement No. 431-2007 in order to streamline and improve the system of EIA.
Environmental guidelines for construction, tourism, agricultural and agribusiness were issued by Ministerial Agreement (No. 266-2010) as instruments of technical guidance for the strengthening of environmental impact assessment studies.
- 1986. Law for the Protection and Improvement of the Environment.
- 1990. CONAMA issued the first procedure in EIA.
- 1993. Reform of the law for the Protection and Improvement of the Environment. Gives competence to the CONAMA on approval of the EIA.
- 1997. Creation of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. Acquired competencies of EIA.
- 1998. CONAMA emit new procedure of the EIA.
- 2002. Central American Action Plan in EIA.
- 2003. Regulation on Environmental Assessment, Control and Monitoring (Agreement No. 23-2003).
- 2007. Regulation on Environmental Assessment, Control and monitoring (Agreement No. 431-2007) to respond to the new national reality and new demands of free trade agreements in the topic environment.
- 2007. Issuing of the environmental guide for the urban infrastructure sector (Agreement No. No. 399-2007).
- 2009. Ministerial Agreement No. 676-2009 on the creation of the regional and departmental delegations of MARN (EIA decentralization).
- 2010. Ministerial Agreement No. 266 approves the environmental guidelines.
- 2010. Approval of the socio-environmental guides as mandatory for projects of prevention, recovery and reconstruction to catastrophic events (Ministerial Agreement No. 267-2010).
Year of introduction of EIA legislation
NB: this field is only meant for the world map. It is a hidden cell that is not published on the website. If available, mention the year when detailed national EIA regulations were issued. If such regulations do not exist and if EIA practice is base
Legal framework for EIA
Year of introduction of enabling law
Year when the enabling law for EIA was issued
The legal framework for EIA is provided by the Environmental Protection and Improvement Law (Protección y Mejoramiento del Medio Ambiente), (Decree No. 68-86) from 1986, which was amended in 1993.
Approving authority of enabling law
Authority that approved the enabling law for EIA.
Year of introduction of first national detailed regulation for EIA
Year when when the first national detailed regulation (procedural requirements) through which EIA was operationalized.
In 1990, the National Committee for the Environment (CONAMA) approved the "Instructions for the EIA procedure", which was applicable until 1997. During 1998, the CONAMA issued a new procedure for EIA, which was applied until January 2003, when the Government issued the Regulation on environmental assessment, control and monitoring (Government Agreement No.23). This regulation establishes procedures for the process of environmental assessment, control and monitoring. The regulation was amended in 2007 (Government Agreement No. 431). Changes in 2008 on public participation were revoked, leaving the 2007 version as the applicable version.
With the decentralization process of 2009 the Deconcentration of environmental analysis instruments (Ministerial Agreement No. 676) was approved. This ministerial agreement establishes the functions of the regional delegations and departmental delegations from the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. One of these functions is the resolution of environmental instruments type B2, and C.
Recent updates and additions to the EIA legislation
Revisions of the EIA provisions in the enabling law or the national detailed EIA regulation (procedural requirements) are named. The year is listed, and the main changes since the first regulation are mentioned, if available. Also, additional EIA-re
The Law for Environmental Protection and Improvement was amended in 1993.
Sector specific procedures or regulations on EIA
Any existing sectoral procedural or content regulations are listed here, as well as the authority that issued each.
The Mining Law requires a EIA process for mining activities. Article 20 of the Mining Law provides that those interested in obtaining a mining license, must submit a study of environmental impact to the corresponding entity for review and approval of the respective license. The study should be submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. When the project is within a protected area the proposer must submit the EIA to the National Council of Protected Areas (Consejo Nacional de Áreas Protegidas CONAP).
Any government issued guidelines on EIA (general, or sectoral) are listed here, as well as the authority that issued each. Describe the legal status of the guidelines.
The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources elaborated a guide for environmental management in the urban infrastructure sector in 2007 in cooperation with IUCN and CCAD. This guide was approved in 2007 (Government Agreement No. 399). During 2008, guides for the agro-industry, tourism and agriculture sector were elaborated. These are included as instruments in the EIA process. These guidelines are compulsory.
Objective of EIA
The objective of EIA as stated in the above described legal basis.
The objective of applying environmental assessment instruments is the prevention and minimization of negative environmental and social impacts caused by the implementation, operation and abandonment of projects, works or activities.
(Ley de Protección y Mejoramiento, Art. 8)
Scope of EIA application
Describes which types of activities require EIA (public and/or private activities; national and/or foreign initiated project; or all such projects)
Any project, work, industry or any other activity which can produce deterioration of renewable natural resources or the environment; or which modifies landscapes or cultural national heritage, requires an environmental impact assessment. Categories of Environmental Impact are A, B1, B2, and C.
Ley Protección y Mejoramiento Ambiental articulo 8 (1993)
Exemptions from EIA application
Describes any (groups of) activities identified in the regulation that are exempted from the requirement to do EIA (e.g. military or emergency activities).
According to the environmental assessment regulation, all actions executed during a State of Exception (disaster or natural disaster) and 60 days thereafter - provided that they are linked directly with mitigating and provided they minimize the negative effects of the catastrophic event - are exempted from any environmental assessment. However, it is required to register all such activities with the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN).
In 2010 socio-environmental guidelines for prevention, recovery and reconstruction projects aimed at mitigation of catastrophic events were approved (Ministerial Agreement No. 267).
Reglamento de Evaluación, Control y Seguimiento (431-2007) sus articulos 59 hasta 62
Institutional setting for EIA
Central EIA authority
Is there a central authority in charge of implementing EIA? Is it independent or linked to a higher body (e.g ministry)? What are its tasks related to EIA?
The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN) is the central authority. Its functions are exercised through their Directorates. The MARN has ten directorates.
Important for the EIA are the following: General Directorate for Environmental Management and Natural Resources (DIGARN), GD of National Coordination, and GD of Legal Affairs.
DIGARN, is structured by two formal units and one in construction:
1. Environmental quality
2. Water resources and watershed
3. Environmental monitoring and control (under construction).
The DIGARN deals with categories with high impact (A, B1) and megaprojects and serve the MARN Delegation of the City of Guatemala, for the purposes of the environmental assessment.
The Directorate of National Coordination to which the MARN delegations belong, process the categories with low impact (C and B2).
MARN was created in 2000 Legislative Decree o no. 90 approved by the Congress: “Ley de Creación del Ministerio de Ambiente y Recursos Naturales”.
Other key (governmental) parties involved in EIA, and their roles
Lists other key parties (e.g. a review commission, knowledge institute) that have a role in many or all EIAs.
The Ministry of Energy and Mining (MEM), including its social-environmental management unit is a major authority involved in environmental management. The social-environmental management unit of the MEM has the following functions:
- Advise on policies, regulations and standards in mining, energy, and hydrocarbon issues.
- Advise on the issue of protection of the environment for mining and hydrocarbons activities.
- Analyze, evaluate and advise on environmental impact assessment studies submitted for consideration; the supervision and control of implementation of mitigation measures set out in environmental impact assessment studies.
- Perform the monitoring and control of the activities in areas of influence of MEM.
- Coordination between the MEM, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN), the National Council of Protected Areas (CONAP) and other related institutions involved in the environmental theme.
The National Council of Protected Areas (Consejo Nacional de Áreas Protegidas, CONAP) plays an important role in environmental assessments for projects, works or activities in protected areas.
Mandate for exemption of EIA obligation
Describes if there is a legal mandate for a competent authority to make exemptions of EIA obligation. And if yes, under which conditions (e.g. national security, disasters or no conditions/when deemed necessary).
See the legal framework for exceptions for EIA.
(De)centralisation of EIA mandates
Describes if EIA mandates are (de)centralised. Vertical decentralization refers to the extent to which the responsibility for EIA processes are delegated by the central government to the provincial or local authorities. Sectoral or horizontal decen
The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN) has a deconcentrated structure. There are regional and departmental delegations. The Directorate of the National Coordination of the MARN coordinates the activities of the delegations. Delegations are the actors that shape the policies of the MARN in the regions. However, the General Directorate of the MARN is the decision-maker in the case of environmental assessments. The delegations approve projects categorized as B2 and C, corresponding to very low and low impact.
Acuerdo Ministerial no. 676-2009
Screening requirement and authority
Describes if a formal screening decision required, and if so, which authority is responsible for this decision. Is this decision published?
The General Directorate of Environmental Management and Natural Resources or the delegations that depend on the MARN review the initial environmental assessment and take a decision on the screening category.
Describes the screening process: steps in screening, the stakeholders involved and outcomes of the process, status of screening advice of different stakeholders, etc. Also describes any prescribed methods for screening. If preliminary EIA's / light EIA's / Initial Environmental Evaluations (IEE) are done in this country and which criteria determine whether a preliminary or a full EIA is requested
For the classification process ("screening") "initial environmental assessments" have to be elaborated. The unique counter of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN) provides a format for this evaluation. All legal data of the company and their legal representative have to be provided. These documents are forwarded to the Directorate of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (DIGARN). In the screening process a brief list of classification is used, as well as criteria’s of localization within fragile environmental areas or areas with national spatial planning. The list will be issued and may only be modified by Ministerial Agreement. The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN), through the DIGARN determines category of those projects, works, industries or activities which are not listed in the prescriptive listing. It may also occur that the proposer presents directly the document of screening without waiting for the classification by the MARN instrument.
The screening resolution provides decision on categorization. There are four different categories:
- Category A: high potential impact on the environment or environmental risk.
- Category B1: moderate to high potential impact on the environmental or environmental risk.
- Category B2: moderate to low potential environmental impact or environmental risk.
- Category C: low potential impact and/or environmental risk.
Provision for sensitive areas
Are specific requirements formulated for environmentally sensitive areas? (e.g. no minimum thresholds, full EIA instead of partial EIA)
The classification process takes into account the location of project, work, industry or activity in fragile areas. Initiatives developed in the protected areas require a revision of the National Council of Protected Areas (Consejo Nacional de Áreas Protgidas, CONAP) according to the master plan of the protected area (mandatory for all categories). The protected areas are registered and controlled by the Guatemalteco System of Protected Areas (Sistema Guatemalteco de Áreas Protegidas, SIGAP).
Contents of the starting document
Describes the required content of the starting document (if any) that the proponent should submit to the competent authority for EIA screening. Mentions if the starting document is published.
This classification process is based on the document of initial environmental assessment. The document has the following content:
- Legal information.
- General information; description of the project at the stage of construction, operation and closure, location of the project, data of climate and geography of the area where the project will be developed.
- Identifying the use and consumption of water, fuels, lubricants, and other inputs.
- Specifying transport.
- Identifying the impacts that can be generated by the project, work, industry or activity (environmental impacts box). Impacts include environmental, social, economic, archaeological and cultural impacts.
- Demand and consumption of energy.
- Risks related to the project work, industry or activity.
Initial Environmental Assessment Format "Unique Counter/ Ventanilla Única" of the Ministery of Environment and Natural Recourses.
Is a formal scoping step required as part of the EIA process?
The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN) has developed and now promotes the Terms of Reference guidelines for the elaboration of an environmental impact assessment study.
Contents of the scoping document
Explains if there are there specific requirements for the content of the scoping document, and if so, what these are.
If resolution of classification (category A and B1) obliges an EIA, the Terms of Reference have to be elaborated.
Assessment and reporting
Steps and roles of stakeholders in the assessment and status of the input of the stakeholders. Also sets out methods for assessment of the environmental impacts of the activity, if prescribed, and whether the assessment covers environmental, social, economic and/or transboundary effects.
For category C and B1 a simple environmental assessment is elaborated. In the unique counter of MARN a form of environmental diagnosis for low impact projects is provided. Approved social- environmental guidelines should be used.
For category A and B2 (high and moderate environmental impact potential) the environmental impact assessment is elaborated according to the Terms of Reference defined in the scoping process. The EIA study determines potential risks and environmental impacts in their area of influence, included a plan for environmental management, a contingency plan and an analysis of social and economic impacts for the population.
The MARN promotes environmental assessments by sector support guidelines.
Contents of the EIA report
Explains what should be contained in the EIA report. Specifies if a potential Environmental Management Plan is part of the EIA report or if it is a separate document that contributes to the EIA process.
According to the guide of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources an EIA must address the following topics:
- Description of the project;
- Description of the legal framework;
- Finance of the investment;
- Description of the impacts in soil, water and air;
- Biological environment description;
- Description of the social-economic and cultural effects;
- Description of alternatives;
- Identifying environmental impacts and determination of mitigation measures;
- Environmental management plan;
- Risk analysis and Plan of Contingency;
- Environment modified by the development of the project work, industry or activity;
- References of literature.
Overview of the review process, including: steps in the process and roles of the stakeholders, status of the input of the stakeholders. Is the process open to public? Review method: internal review, external review, panel/commission (permanent or temporary), are the review results documented? Are the review criteria general or case by case? Are the review results documented? Is a potential review
The proposer presents the environmental impact assessment study and/or the environmental management plan to the DIGARN for review.
The proponent and the DIGARN advise the civil society through th media that the documents are available at the DIGARN. The public has the possibility to give their comments. The DIGARN reviews all documents and takes into account public comments. The DIGARN requests the sectors’ advice where projects have a sectoral scope. The review is performed by the multidisciplinary team of the DIGARN. Depending on the study, field verification is done by the DIGARN technicians or staff of the departmental delegations. The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN) emits the resolution of approval or rejection.
In the case of projects, works, industries, and/or activities of category C y B2 (low impact) the departmental delegations review the information. If the information meets the requirements established by law and regulations the environmental license will be issued.
Describes if the EIA is checked by external parties, and if so to what extent these represent required disciplines/expertise. Also sets out if measures have been taken to ensure that reviewers are impartial?
The National Council of Protected Areas (CONAP) is involved in case of projects, works, industry or activities in protected areas. In the case of mining investments, hydrocarbons or energy, the DIGARN requestes an opinion from the social-environmental unit of the Ministry of Energy and Mining (MEM).
Number of (working) days for review of the EIA by the competent authority.
The DIGARN has 15 days to review projects from category B, after the documentation is submitted, and 10 days in the case of category C.
The procedure for category A projects requires more time for review. The timeline for the review of the environmental impact assessment study of category A is 2 months and 4 months when the project is considered to be a national mega-project.
Integration of EIA into decision-making
Describes what kind of decision-making processes the EIA is intended to support. We look specifically at the decision on EIA approval, and how this relates to envirionmental approval for the project, and other project approval decisions (permits) needed before a project can proceed. This category describes which decisions are influenced by EIA and how they are linked to each other.
The environmental license is a requirement for the approval of a project, work and/or activity that can cause negative environmental impact. The environmental impact assessment is mandatory in cases of projects, works or activities considered as high/moderate environmental potential impacts.
Describes which authority/authorities is/are responsible for each of the main decision-making processes on EIA (EIA approval, environmental approval and/or project approval). It is explained if those decisions are taken by the same or different authorities.
In cases of projects, works, industry, and activities that correspond to the category A and B1, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN) issues the final resolution for the environmental license through the Directorate-General for Environmental Management and Natural Resources (DIGARN). In the case of category C and B2 (low impact), the departmental delegations issue the resolutions.
(The Ministerial Agreement 676-2009 declares that the category B2 projects are handled by the departmental delegations; in the case of the delegation Guatemala City, this is done in part by the DIGARN).
In the review phase the different emitted opinions or analyzed. After that, the final opinion is emitted on the approval of the license. This opinion is submitted to the Director of DG Environment Management and Natural Resources who by means of a resolution approves or rejects the environmental license. The projects of category A, where the resolution is signed by the Minister, the highest authority of the MARN.
Monitoring, Compliance and Enforcement
Is compliance monitoring required to check if the project is implemented as described in the EIA documents and/or if mitigation of environmental impacts complies with applicable standards and other measures set out in the EIA documents? Who is responsible for ensuring compliance? How does this authority ensure compliance (for example, through inspections)? And what requirements are there for the p
The environmental management plan should incorporate a plan for monitoring.
In the case of category A, B1 and national mega-projects the MARN may require (additionally to environmental management plan), environmental instruments of control and monitoring (such as an environmental responsible expert, environmental records and periodic environmental reports).
Reglamento Evaluación, Control y Seguimiento articulo 45
Are there any requirements to monitor if the impacts in reality are as they were predicted in the EIA, with the purpose of evaluating the EIA itself and improving future EIA practice?
The environmental management plan defines the goals and specific actions of environmental follow-up and monitoring. It clearly defines what the environmental variables or factors are that will be monitoring (methods, analysis types, and the location of sites, sampling and sampling frequency, and the institution responsible for each point of action).
Monitoring and environmental monitoring should include the stage of construction, operation and closure or abandonment, depending on the complexity and type of project and environmental fragility of the area.
Is the proponent required to pay a fee when applying for an EIA? Is this fee linked to a permitting fee, or separate? If yes, when is this paid and to whom (to the agency that issues the license or to a central agency)?
The proponent pays to the MARN through the agencies of the National Bank System. This Bank manages the MARN revenues.
Public participation requirements for EIA process stages
Describes for which of the EIA process stages public participation is required.
The proponent should involve the public in the EIA process as soon as possible after the screening. In the initial environmental assessment ("screening") stage there is no participation of the public.
Access to information
Which of the information that is generated in the EIA process is available to the public? Specifically, which reports and decision statements?
The proponent publishes a notice in coordination with the MARN about the availability of the environmental assessment for the public. This notice is published necessarily in a journal of national importance. The notice has at least the following information:
- Name proponent;
- Description of the project, work or activity;
- Inform the public that within a period of 20 working days after the last publication in the national newspaper the public can send its observations and comments to the DIGARN or MARN delegations.
In the region where Mayan languages are used, the publication must also be written in their language (s) (multilingual information can be obtained at the National Institute of Statistics, INE).
Information has been available in language Mayas where the language is dominant is sets by the legalization of Reglamento de Evaluación, Control y Seguimiento art. 75
How can the public receive the information that is publicly available? Are there public announcement on the proceedings? How/where are these published? Is information made available locally? Is information sent on request? etc.
The environmental impacts assessment studies and environmental management plans are available at the offices of the DIGARN (national level) or the MARN delegations (local level).
Timeline for public comments
The number of (working) days available for the public to make comments on the EIA decision document.
The public can present its observations or opposition in written within 20 days after the publication of environmental assessment document, before the MARN, either the central DIGARN or the MARN delegations where appropriate.
What options do the public have to provide their comments. Should comments be written, or may they also be verbal? To which agency should they provide their submissions?
After the publication and submission of the environmental impact assessment study (and before the review), the public can submit their comments to the DIGARN or MARN delegations. Observations and comments are taken into account if they are presented in written and have a technical, scientific or legal support.
Possibilities for appeal
What are the legal recourse options to challenge EIA decisions are provided for within the legal framework?
Against the decisions of DIGARN appeals can be filed according to the administrative law court.
Ley de lo Contencioso Administrativo decreto 199-96 Ley de Protección y Mejoramiento del Medio Ambiente (articulos 30 y 37)
Decisions that can be appealed
Which EIA decisions can be appealed?
- In relation to approval of EIA
Who can appeal
Who can make an appeal (in other words, has legal standing)?
The proponent and the public can appeal against the decisions of the environmental resolution according to the regulations of public administration.
Annual no. of EIAs
Gives an estimation for the number of full EIAs that are produced annually in this country.
The number of EIAs (approximate numbers) processed by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources:
• 1999: 350;
• 2000: 480;
• 2001: 790;
• 2002: 660;
• 2003: 800.
These data relate not only to the Environmental Impact Assessments, but to all categories. EIAs are only elaborated in the cases of high to moderate impact (category A y B1).
Marco jurídico y político de gestión Ambiental en el informe nacional del estado ambiente de la Dirección de Gestión Ambiental y Recursos Naturales (2003). http://www.sia.marn.gob.gt/
Accreditation of consultants
Is there and accreditation system operational in the country to certify consultants to do EIAs?
Consultants and consultant firms must be accredited by the MARN to be able to conduct EIA studies. They should demonstrate experience of at least of 120 hours in environmental assessment. The DIGARN administers a register of accredited consulting firms and consultants.
Ongoing training programmes (including professional and academic training) and major training events held in the past (with focus on recent events) are mentioned here.
The Central America Technical Committee for Environmental Impact Assessment developed training programs in EIA with help of international organizations.
The country professional bodies such as the Corps of Engineers, Architects and Agronomists have the endorsement of the MARN to develop professional training courses in environmental assessment instruments.
In Guatemala the project EIA-Central America (executed by the Central American Commission on environment and development - CCAD and IUCN Meso-America) provided important contributions to the development, strengthening and streamlining of the EIA system. The work has resulted directly and indirectly in new legislation and regulation. Such as: - Comparative study of EIA systems in Central America; - Instruments for streamlining, harmonization and modernization of EIA in Central America; - Program of training in SEA, EIA, participation, economic valuation of environmental damage; Guidelines, and other products generated by the project. Those influenced the overall in the adoption in 2007 of regulation of environmental assessment, control and monitoring (Government Agreement no. 431). For example the direct influence of the training and capacity development project can be seen in the chapter on important definitions (SEA, EIA, citizen participation) and the incorporation of an instrument for EIA.
Links to laws/regulation
Any relevant links to laws or regulations are included here.
Environmental Information System of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources: in Spanish: http://www.sia.marn.gob.gt/ y http://www.sip.marn.gob.gt/
Legalization of Central America: http://www.ccad.ws/legislacion/Guatemala.html
System of document consultation EIA: http://www.marn.gob.gt/aplicaciones/periodo/consultaperiodo.asp
Projects of EIA of public consultation, in Spanish:
Public Information of projects which are approved, rejected or in process: http://www.marn.gob.gt/aplicaciones/Impambnuevo/
Other relevant links on EIA
Any other relevant links (for example to country specific guidance documents) are included here.
Centre for Environmental and Social Legal Acción (Centro de Acción Legal Ambiental y Social, CALAS)
Network for Impact Assessment of Central America (website in English)
Website in Spanish of Work Group on EIA in Central America Grupo de Trabajo de Evaluación de Impacto Ambiental de Centro-America