The Mi Cuenca project, led by the IUCN-CARE-CRS consortium, organized a Presidential Forum on Environment and Development in Guatemala, a first such event ever to be held.
The presidential debate revealed the candidates’ plans to making environment and development part of their policies for improving the country’s natural resource base as an instrument of social and economic development. Mi Cuenca (“My Watershed”) is a project being implemented in the department of San Marcos, by the consortium IUCN-CARE-CRS, with support from SIMBIOSIS, Fundación AVINA, Fundación Solar, Fundación del BosqueTropical, Rain Forest Alliance and the National Forest Plan.
The two-hour debate was broadcast live by the Guatevisión channel, initiating reflection on the environmental problems facing the country. Issues discussed included access to water, the importance of transboundary watersheds, and the need for concrete negotiations with neighboring nations regarding shared waters (waters that arise in national territory and run towards Mexico, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador). Candidates also touched on themes such as climate change, mining, hydroelectric plants, protected areas, the green economy, forest incentives, basic sanitation and solid waste disposal.
Candidates presented their opinions and strategies to halt the accelerated environmental deterioration in their country, and outlined their commitments to promote socio-economic development.
Those attending the forum said that while candidates clearly had good intentions about addressing the nation’s environmental problems, more clear and concrete policies would be needed. The next government will require support from national and international organizations, and make use of successful models of watershed management, such as implemented by IUCN-CARE and CRS.
An audience vote was taken after the forum and online results were sent to the presidential candidates with recommendations to keep in mind should they come to power. At the forum’s conclusion, Mr. Pablo Alvarado commented, “I thought it was very interesting and something that had been missing, since all of the candidates have already talked about the economy, health, employment, and other issues, but it wasn’t until now that they realized how important the environment is, especially managing water for the survival of those of us who live in Guatemala. I congratulate you for being the first in Guatemala to organize a forum of this kind.”
Many of those attending said this was an unprecedented event and worth repeating during future electoral processes in the country.
For more information, please contact:
Carlos R. Rosal Del Cid
Regional Officer, Water management Unit
IUCN Regional Office for Mesoamerica and the Caribbean Initiative