The first step in compiling the information on Guatemala was an analysis of the important state actors in the forest sector, and the legislation related to the issue of transparency and access to information (which in Guatemala is regulated principally by the Law of Access to Public Information), to find out the obligations of the public institutions with regard to the issue of access to information. As far as the state actors are concerned, the basis used was the evaluation entitled Mapping of the Stakeholders in the Forest Sector in Guatemala, drawn up by the Guatemala National Forest Programme (PFN). These are:
1) The National Institute for Forests (INAB) defined by the Forest Law as a state, autonomous, decentralised player, with legal recognition, its own assets and administrative independence – the responsible authority on forest issues in the Public Agricultural sector.
2) The National Council of Protected Areas (CONAP) – the most senior body for management and coordination of the Guatemalan System of Protected Areas (SIGAP).
3) Ministry of Finances – the body responsible for generating and administering the State’s financial and heritage resources.
4) Ministry of Food, Livestock and Agriculture (MAGA) - the body responsible for agreeing and administering policies which encourage sustainable development of the agricultural, forest and hydro-biological sector, through clear and stable regulations.
5) Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (MARN) – responsible for protecting and preserving environmental systems and natural resources with the aim of achieving cross-generational development. Although MARN is not included in the Mapping of Forest Stakeholders, we added it to the list because a number of indicators in the Report Card required information on this body. In addition, there are a number of bills related to Climate Change which will affect the forest sector.
Taking this basic mapping of the state actors who are most important to the forest sector, we carried out an analysis of the Law on Access to Public Information. We used articles 7, 10, 19, 38, 39, 42 and 48 of this law as a starting point for our research according to the obligations stipulated in these articles related specifically to the methods which can be used to request information, the basic structures which must exist to facilitate the search for information, the type of information which must be available and up-to-date, the response time, and the obligations of the public bodies regarding the requests for public information.
Derived from this analysis, we began the search for information. The method for searching for information was linear in nature, following the structure of the common indicators form, starting with indicator 1 and ending with indicator 20. All the information gathered was filed in a central folder and in sub-folders specific to each indicator. We used a number of methods of searching for information:
1) Internet research
We used e-mails and the internet when requesting information and when searching for information for the narrative evaluation of each indicator, using relevant studies and reports. In this way, we hoped to discover levels of compliance with articles 7, 10, 38, 39 and 42 of the Law on Access to Public Information.
2) Research through interviews
For some indicators, interviews and telephone calls were used to gather the required information, and to complete the narrative evaluation section, specifying the date, time, name and position of the person interviewed. In this way, we hoped to discover levels of compliance with article 38 of the Law on Access to Public Information.
3) Research through direct request
For some indicators we used the method of going to the office of the relevant public body, with no advance notice, to ask for the information required directly, specifying the date, time, name and position of the person responsible for the relevant Public Information Unit. This showed us whether that Unit existed and how accessible it was. In this way, we hoped to discover levels of compliance with articles 19 and 39 of the Law.
These three methods of research allowed us to formulate general indicators on how far the public bodies met their obligations under the Law.