Human Rights and Natural Resource Management in Guatemala

UW Scientist analyzing water samples in Guatemala

  • Water Testing in Morena
  • Local boys watch as UW environmental engineer analyzes water samples


Our human rights project in Guatemala has concluded. At this time we are not actively engaged in further research on this topic.

At the request of grassroots organizations in rural Guatemala, our team of scientists is examining the causes and implications of environmental changes in relation to peasant communities’ access to water and food in rural Guatemala. This project brings together leading scholars from Engineering, Forest Resources, International Studies and Law in a single research team, working to support affected communities who are seeking justice in the courts. Our work is conducted in partnership with the Pastoral Social de San Marcos in Guatemala, whose lawyers, social workers, and sociologists work closely with affected communities.

Our project has three interrelated objectives:

  1. To provide communities with the scientific data necessary to seek redress within and beyond the Guatemalan justice system for damage incurred as a result of natural resource mismanagement.
  2. To help community leaders design strategies and tools that will enable their communities’ participation in future discussions around resource management between government entities and businesses whose activities impact natural resources.
  3. To generate specific data that will enable communities to effectively target water pollution problems now.

Our multi-pronged approach is unique in that, by placing the intellectual capital of the University of Washington at the disposal of our partners, we are generating short- and long-term solutions to natural resource mismanagement and its effects on various human rights including the right to health, the right to an adequate living standard, and the right to education.

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