In commemoration of World Environment Day, which is celebrated every June 5, the team of the United Nations Development Program –UNDP-, together with one of our strategic partners, the Municipality of Guatemala, joined forces to promote actions, not only from the programs that involve technical and administrative assistance, ensuring the conduct of processes based on transparency and trust, but also those that make a difference in our environment and immediate well-being.
With this objective in mind, we joined Municipality of Guatemala a mega reforestation initiative in the city, an activity led by our Resident Representative Ana María Díaz and under the organization of Paola Constantino, Head of Solutions Mapping at the Acceleration Laboratory, who motivated us to actively participate in actions related to the empowerment of women and gender equality, focused on human rights, as the basis of one of the key principles of the 2030 Agenda for Development and SDG 5. This activity inspired us to sow future in this land of trees; Rutinamit taq che ', which in the Mayan language Kaqchikel, means' City of Trees'. This activity reflects the commitment of each person in the UNDP Guatemala team to consolidate more inclusive, resistant, and efficient societies.
According to some historical reflections, Jorge Luis Arriola identified in the Small Etymological Dictionary of Guatemalan Voices, that the word ‘Guatemala’ is mentioned in letters written by Pedro de Alvarado and even by Hernán Cortés. It is believed that the term Guatemala is the “castellanización” of the word "Quathtemalan", identified as a language of Nahuatl origin of Mexican territories, and that it means "place or land of many trees" or as it is popularly written "Guauhtemallan".
Today, Guatemala City is the largest at territorial and population level in the Central American region. It is in this space where the core of economic activities is located, which has undoubtedly unleashed a process of urbanization, but which also requires us to find a balance with nature, evidencing the demands linked to the Anthropocene era. In the name of progress, we have put enormous pressure on the planet in the past decades, which is why our societies must be transformed to reduce the pressure on the environment. Human Development at the expense of the planet is not development and the current notion of prosperity implies a high cost for people and the planet, so we must redesign development to combat inequality and empower people.
Restoring balance is everyone's responsibility, and UNDP is committed to supporting national and local governments to take measures that create concrete policies and actions to protect and preserve forests, but also to plant more trees, because likewise women are key to combating climate change and poverty, as gender-sensitive forestry practices could lead to behavioral changes that increase tree cover and improve the livelihoods of the poorest people.
This small action was framed in the rescue of our ecosystems, fostering a dialogue with the urban tissue, opening to reinforce our alliances with local institutions such as the Municipality of Guatemala, which allowed us as well to test the effectiveness of the new Citizen Card System, promoted and launched in May 2021 by the Municipality of Guatemala, with technical assistance from UNDP; but also to reflect that men and women can access equally to transportation systems having transparency as the key element to run this public service. This first stage of the project focuses on the Transmetro, a Bus Rapid Transit System, seeking improve the user experience, as well as the means that allow citizens to demand accountability.
Navigating through the “Decade of Action” to achieve Sustainable Development, UNDP values small, as big actions more than ever, demonstrating that strategic alliances that allow us to accelerate our path to sustainable development are essential. This has been the beginning of a new stage for the UNDP team, expanding our experiences to the field and acknowledging that our team efforts go beyond our workspace, in sync with our partners , who aim to sow sustainable development for the future of Guatemala.