Guatemala is part of the Stockholm Declaration on the Human Environment, adopted at the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, on June 16, 1972. Through that Declaration, twenty-six principles are established to urge the international community and in particular the States to develop environmental policies so the conservation and preservation of the environment and natural resources is achieved.
When ratifying this Declaration, Guatemala began to create public policies for the application of norms that seek the protection of the environment, encompassing within the national legislation the principles developed in it.
Besides, Guatemala is part of the United Nations Convention, Rio Declaration on Environment and Development of 1992, which aims to complete the Stockholm Declaration by creating new principles that included States must apply in their internal regulations.
The Political Constitution of Guatemala protects the environment and ecological balance, granting the State, the municipalities, and residents the obligation to contribute to "social, economic and technological development that prevents the environment pollution and maintains the ecological balance." Through decree 68-86 of the Republic's Congress, the Law of Environment Protection and Improvement was approved and later by decree 90-2000 of the Republic's Congress, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources - MARN- was created.
In 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals were approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations, which among other issues seeks to determine specific objectives for the protection of the environment, such as water and sanitation, affordable and non-polluting energy, reduction of inequalities, responsible production and consumption, climate action, underwater life, life of terrestrial ecosystems and alliances to achieve these objectives.
Based on the aforementioned international and constitutional regulations, the Executive Branch through the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources dated July 11, 2016, issued a Governmental Agreement Number 137-2016 approving the Environmental Assessment, Control and Environmental Monitoring, to establish rules for the use of instruments and guides that facilitate the evaluation, control and environmental monitoring of the projects, works, industries or activities that are developed or intended to be developed in the country; and thus facilitates the characteristics modification and possible environmental problems to guide their development in harmony with the protection of the environment and natural resources. Said regulation was created under the principles established in the previously mentioned conventions, which include the principle of prevention, the principle of environmental responsibility and the principle of precaution.
Likewise, in the aforementioned regulation, the Environmental Management Instruments are monitored, which are divided into two groups: a) The so-called environmental instruments (predictive, corrective and complementary) which the regulation itself defines as "technical documents in which the necessary information is contained to carry out a neat identification and evaluation of the environmental impacts or risks of a project, work, industry or activity ..."; and b) The so-called environmental control and monitoring, which are defined as "set of environmental assessment instruments that have as their purpose the verification of compliance with the environmental measures and guidelines established and imposed by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources for any project, work industry or activity, as a result of the environmental assessment procedure...".
To determine the activities that are tied to the Environmental Management Instruments, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources -MARN- through the Ministerial Agreement 264-2019, issued on October 11, 2019, created a tax list to determine the category to which each project, work, industry or activity corresponds, in which, according to valuation criteria, it establishes the different categories, these categories being the following;
- Category A: Projects, works, industries or activities considered as having the highest environmental impact or risk. For example: Planting, production and harvest of bananas, greater than 500 hectares; and projects related to electric power generation activities from water resources, greater than 10 megawatts of power.
- Category B: Projects, works, industries or activities of moderate environmental impact or risk. Which is divided into a) B1: covering those of moderate to high impact or environmental risk; for example: Companies related to the manufacture of pharmaceutical products, such as antibiotics, hormones, cytotoxics, biologicals, and radiopharmaceuticals; and b) B2: which covers those considered moderate to low impact or environmental risk. For example: Drugstores (for pharmaceutical specialties and related products) with primary division.
- Category C: Projects, works, industries or activities considered of low impact and environmental risk that are developed permanently or that materialize in a single act. For example: Dental clinics, Childcare centers, Aesthetic centers and body weight control, Gyms, general and / or specialized medical clinics.
- Registration Category (RC): This is a new category that emerged through the latest Environmental Assessment, Control and Monitoring Regulation reform, which indicates that projects, works, industries or activities considered as having minimal impact and environmental risk only require registration of their activity. For example: companies that make bakery and / or biscuit products, companies that make dressings and sauces; companies that manufacture non-dairy ice cream; professional offices and libraries, among other contents in the tax list created by MARN.
The Environmental Assessment, Control and Monitoring Regulation establishes the administrative procedure for environmental evaluation, establishing the requirements and procedures to be carried out depending on the category in which the project, work, industry or activity is located, which implies a mandatory inspection for categories A and B1 by the Directorate of Environmental Management and Natural Resources -DIGARN- or the National Coordination Directorate -DCN- which are the units in charge of executing said Regulation by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources.
Through the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, the Executive Organism issued the Government Agreement 317-2019 dated December 23, 2019, with the objective of reforming the Regulation of Environmental Evaluation, Control and Monitoring contained in the Government Agreement 137-2016, making important changes.
One of the changes introduced by the aforementioned reform is that the surety insurance was eliminated as a requirement to manage the environmental instrument and was replaced by an affidavit.
Additionally, another important change is that projects, works, industries or activities that are in category C are exempt from having an environmental license; however, they must have a consultant who performs the environmental studies and must have an Environmental Management Plan; likewise, projects in the RC category that, following the tax list, are established as having minimal impact and only for registering in the listings, are also exempt from the obligation to have an environmental license; and they only need a registration through a form of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources -MARN-.
It is regulated that environmental licenses for categories A, B1 and B2 will have a term of validity of 1 to 5 years, depending on the category and the term within that range paid by the interested party in concept of tariff.
It should be taken into account that, following the reforms established in Government Agreement 317-2019, all those projects, works, industries or activities of A, B1, and B2 categories that do not have an environmental license, will have until December 16 of the year 2022 to get it.
Failure to comply with the Law on Protection and Improvement of the Environment, as well as the Governmental Agreement Number 137-2016 Regulation of Environmental Evaluation, Control, and Monitoring, results in the imposition of the corresponding sanctions by the Legal Compliance Department (DCL).
The Arias team is made up of professionals with extensive experience in environmental and regulatory advice who will gladly be able to advise you with proper planning and legal analysis to comply with the environmental provisions established in Governmental Agreement 137-2016 following the latest reforms established in the Government Agreement 317-2019 and avoiding to incur in applicable administrative sanctions.