People’s wellbeing depends, among other things, on environmental conditions. Poor air quality can increase the risk of respiratory complications during diseases such as COVID-19. Air quality monitoring facilitates risk assessment and public policy decision-making.

The forest fires and agricultural burning that take place in many regions – including the Mayan Forest – generate harmful particles, visible as black smoke, which affect human health. The respiratory problems caused by these particles are an aggravating factor for people who are fighting against the disease caused by the novel coronavirus type 2, better known as COVID-19, which is ending the lives of many people.


Credits: César Paz – WCS Guatemala. Fire in the Mayan Forest


To assess the risk level that air pollution means for human health, it is important to have access to reliable data. For this reason, the project  Development of a Regional System to monitor biodiversity and climate change – Selva Maya, financed by the Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) within the framework of its International Climate Initiative (IKI), supports various actors in the Mayan Forest region in monitoring air quality.

For this, the project supported the acquisition of PurpleAir sensors that were installed in different regions of the Mayan Forest, covering areas in Guatemala, Belize and Mexico. These sensors detect air particles, and the levels are available publicly and in real time on the Internet.


Credits: GIZ / Ameyalli Nares. An Aire PurpleAir Quality Sensor


This data has already been used to improve the living conditions of many people. After confirming a dangerous air quality level during a fire at the San Benito landfill, Guatemala, the municipality began the process for better solid waste management. In Belize, data concerning agricultural burning inspired a social media campaign. Consequently, the Belize government passed a law that prohibited burning during the COVID-19 contingency.

Due to these successful experiences, actors in Guatemala, Belize and also Mexico want to expand the network of air quality sensors. This will allow faster detection and reaction to threats to human respiratory health. Together with other measures, this approach will help the population and decision-makers of the three countries to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic and possible similar epidemics in the future.


More information at:

Selva maya, devorada por las llamas – La Jornada (in Spanish)

Purple Air

Alarma por mala calidad del aire en Petén, un factor de riesgo para la población ante el covid-19


This morning the particle sensor recorded record smoke in the Belmopan air. The air is nearly un-breathable. See:

Gepostet von Jan Meerman am Freitag, 17. April 2020

Communities that conserve, restore and sustainably exploit mangroves depend on the fair marketing of their products. Mundo Manglar is a strategy that seeks to connect local products with responsible consumer markets – a particularly relevant proposal in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts on the local economy.

In the context of the COVID-19 health contingency, the need to promote consumption in fairer markets, favoring local economies and projects based on the sustainable use of our ecosystems, has been highlighted. Mundo Manglar is a promotional initiative led by Pronatura Veracruz A.C. to sensitize the market to the importance of mangroves and the environmental services they provide. The responsible consumption of products such as wood, charcoal, and honey contributes to the conservation of biodiversity and boosts local economies, especially in the face of the global health contingency.

The project “Restoration of the mangrove landscape; an opportunity for social development at the RAMSAR Sistema Laguna de Alvarado site in Veracruz, Mexico” (financed by Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, BMU, within the IKI initiative) aims to generate a long-term strategy for mangrove restoration, which simultaneously lays the foundation for sustainable use and commercialization in fair markets.



Local livelihoods that depend directly on mangroves have been heavily impacted by the health contingency. Activities such as fishing or the production of charcoal, wood, and mangrove honey are linked with other economic sectors that are currently detained or restricted – such as tourism and local food consumption.

The health emergency requires a response that can mitigate direct impacts and, in turn, create opportunities to strengthen projects in the face of the medium-term repercussions. Analyzing the value chains in the face of the pandemic allows us to identify implications and specific actions to move forwards with the commercialization of mangrove products.

In this context, the Mundo Manglar website and campaign takes on more relevance and also faces important challenges. It must enable effective digital sales and delivery systems, considering the communities’ limited access to digital media. On the other hand, we must sensitize the market to maintain and increase the consumption of products with fair prices, both during the contingency and the medium-term repercussions of COVID-19.

The Water and Sanitation Companies program for Water and Wastewater Companies for Climate Mitigation (WaCCliM) is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH in Mexico, in direct coordination with the National Water Commission (CONAGUA). The program’s main aim is to support water and sanitation operating agencies (OOs) in reducing their carbon footprint and increasing their climate resilience.

Increasing the frequency of handwashing is one of the main activities promoted by the Mexican Government to reduce the spreading of the COVID-19 virus. This daily activity leads us to pay much more attention to the “behind the scenes” of the water and sanitation sector, as well as the importance that it function, so that people in any part of the country can have access to enough water – in quality and quantity – to carry out this preventive measure.

The activities of the WaCCliM program have a direct and organic relationship with the sustainable recovery (green recovery) that is expected during the following months or years. They include: strengthening the capacities of the operational personnel currently working in OOs; improving public health services by promoting access to drinking water and sanitation services throughout the country; promoting and replicating the use of technologies that minimize the carbon footprint of OOs and which, in turn, require the professionalization of the sector, in order to provide technical consulting services and the implementation of environmentally friendly technologies.

The Emissions Trading System (ETS) is one of the carbon price mechanisms that has accelerated the mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over the past decade. It works using the “cap and trade” principle. A limit is imposed on emissions from one or more economic sectors, and regulated facilities are granted a limited number of emission rights that they can trade among themselves, to carry out their compliance obligations in a cost-effective manner.

There are factors that ensure the proper functioning of an ETS; among them, stability in carbon prices and a supply of emission rights that is consistent with market demand. The current economic recession caused by COVID-19 has altered these two variables and has presented significant challenges for the more than 20 ETS operating around the world. It is important to be aware of the global strategies to overcome these challenges and identify lessons learned that could strengthen the ETS Test Program in Mexico, in force since January 2020.

According to ICAP data, there was a significant drop in carbon prices in California and Quebec in March, as well as in the European Union (EU), where it fell from an average of 25 EUR to 15 EUR. In Switzerland, the auction of emission rights was even rescheduled due to the price drop. Commercialization of emission rights in the ETS of the EU is affected by oversupply, which can lead to a reduction in public revenue from auctions, and discourage investments in mitigation technologies.

Countries such as Canada, China, Korea, and Switzerland have responded to these impacts by postponing compliance and reporting dates, while the European Commission anticipates a reduction in the number of emission rights available within the Market Stability Reserve. On the other hand, Poland and the Czech Republic have suggested a review of the EU’s ETS conditions.

Strategies implemented by other countries help inform Mexico of the risks faced by ETS and their possible solutions. The project “Preparation of an Emissions Trading System in Mexico” (SiCEM), implemented by the Deutsche Gesell¬schaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH will follow the evolution of the system’s global situation closely.

There are countless ways in which the global food system will be tested and strained in the coming weeks and months. Most current assessments generally foresee a contraction in both supply of and demand for agricultural products, and point to possible disruptions in trade and logistics. Vulnerable groups include small-scale farmers, who may be prevented from working their land, accessing markets to sell their products or buying seeds and other essential inputs

According to FAO, one of the consequences of the pandemic will be lower supplies of intermediate inputs such as fertilizer, pesticides, and seeds, that will likely reduce yields later in the year. In Mexico, small scale farmers are highly dependent on these inputs. This high dependence on commercial pesticides and fertilizers and the pressure arising from their scarcity could be lowered when adopting environmentally friendly options such as biological pest control and the use of natural fertilizers. The promotion of community seed banks would not only lower farmer dependency on commercial seeds, but also promote the use of local seeds that are better adapted to changing climate patterns.

On the other hand, precision agriculture could provide cost reduction for farmers struggling to make end meet and facing illness or quarantine restrictions. Mexican farmers are highly dependent on labor inputs and are particularly exposed to COVID-19.

The pandemic will affect all elements of the food system, from primary supply, to processing, to trade as well as national and international logistics systems, to intermediate and final demand. In Mexico, productive chains are highly dependent on independent intermediaries. Well integrated and coordinated value chains with close involvement from all productive chain links and focus on local markets, will ensure a more stable process for all stakeholders.

Farmers in Latin America not only produce with high debt shares, but their interest rates are significantly higher than in high-income countries. They are, therefore, more exposed to a possible shock in the cost of capital, potentially arising from changes in interest rates. Financial mechanisms specifically designed for small-scale farmers could help alleviate this situation.