CCE Country Profile

el salvador

Table of Contents

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I) Climate change context

El Salvador is located in Central America, neighbored by Guatemala to its west and northwest and Honduras to its northeast and east, and it has a maritime boundary of the Pacific Ocean (World Bank, 2023). According to the World Bank (2023), El Salvador has a total land area of 21,041 km2, making it the smallest country in Central America, and has an estimated population of 6.4 million people (World Bank, 2023). El Salvador has a relatively short coastline along the Pacific Ocean, extending approximately 307 km (World Bank, 2023). El Salvador’s population is predominantly urban, with approximately 71% of the country’s population living in urban areas, while the remaining 29% inhabit rural areas. Approximately 0.2% of the population is Indigenous, while approximately 0.1% are Afro-descendants (World Bank, 2023). 

The World Bank also highlights El Salvador’s two macro-bioclimates. Some parts of El Salvador are characterized by a tropical wet and dry macro-bioclimate and experience distinct wet and dry seasons and a relatively consistent year-round climate with warm to hot temperatures. Other parts of El Salvador are categorized as tropical rainforest—particularly in the eastern and northern regions—where the climate is characterized by high temperatures throughout the year and significant rainfall evenly distributed throughout the year.

According to the World Bank, El Salvador is classified as a lower-middle–income country, with a gross domestic product (GDP) of approximately US$ 27.44 billion (World Bank, 2023). Approximately 48.2% of El Salvador’s population is considered economically vulnerable—which is the highest percentage in Latin American and Caribbean countries—resulting from factors such as limited access to education and healthcare, economic shocks, and frequent natural disasters (e.g., large-scale flooding). El Salvador’s GINI index (which measures income inequality) ascended to 39 in 2021, indicating significant income inequality. 

According to Fundación PRISMA, El Salvador is recognized as vulnerable to climate change impacts because of a combination of factors. El Salvador is susceptible to hurricanes and tropical storms, particularly during its rainy season, which can bring heavy rainfall, flooding, landslides, and wind gusts, leading to loss of life, damage to infrastructure, and displacement of communities. El Salvador is also vulnerable to flooding, as its topography includes coastal lowlands and volcanic mountains; rural and urban areas are both susceptible to flash floods, disrupting communities and causing property damage. In close connection to floods, El Salvador is also vulnerable to prolonged drought and water scarcity, which can affect water supplies, food security, and agricultural production. Because of changes in precipitation patterns, increased temperatures, and its coastline, El Salvador is also vulnerable to reduced crop yields and food insecurity, as well as sea-level rises causing coastal erosion and saltwater intrusion into freshwater sources. 

Specific cross-sections of the Salvadoran society have been identified as more vulnerable to climate change. According to the Heinrich Böll Foundation’s Climate Change and the Rights of Women, Indigenous Peoples and Rural Communities in the Americas report (2019), Salvadoran rural communities that rely on agriculture for their livelihoods, low-income communities and the urban poor, coastal populations, Indigenous peoples, and women are more vulnerable to climate change. The report notes that Indigenous communities often face additional challenges related to land rights and access to resources because of geographical isolation and a lack of political representation, while women disproportionately suffer the impacts of climate change because they have responsibilities for household food and water provision, and they also have limited inclusion in decision-making processes. 

There is a concerted effort on the part of the Salvadoran government to focus on women and climate change. The Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources is promoting gender equality in climate change adaptation and mitigation measures through the inclusion of gender perspectives in their Nationally Determined Contributions, mainstreaming gender equity in environmental and educational policies, and by participating in the Women and Climate Change Coalition

According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, El Salvador is a non-Annex I Party. El Salvador both signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 1998, and the country signed the Paris Agreement in 2016 and ratified it in 2017. According to the United Nations Observatory on Principle 10 in Latin America and the Caribbean, at the time of this review, El Salvador has neither ratified or signed the Escazú Agreement.

The Global Carbon Atlas calculated El Salvador’s emissions at 7.2 tCO2 per person in 2021. This places El Salvador 122nd in terms of emissions per capita worldwide; therefore, it is a low-emitting country. According to El Salvador’s 3rd National Communication (2018), the major contributors to carbon emissions in El Salvador include the energy sector (56.6%), transportation (8.5%), manufacturing (9.4%), agroindustry (19.5%), and waste management (6%).

II) Relevant government agencies

Climate change

The Ministry of Environment and National Resources (MARN) is responsible for designing and updating policies, strategies, and plans of action related to climate change. The MARN is also responsible for overseeing and evaluating climate patterns and their impact on El Salvador by gathering climate data, evaluating risk, and identifying vulnerable areas. In addition, the MARN promotes renewable energy sources and efficient energy uses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, develops adaptation projects and strategies, and cooperates with international organizations to receive financial and technical support to implement activities addressing climate change. The ACE focal point is part of this Ministry. 

The Ministry of Finance focuses on several key areas that address climate change. First, the Ministry identifies and mobilizes financial resources to address climate change, including the managing of climate funds and gathering financing through bilateral and multilateral agreements. The Ministry also promotes the integration of environmental and sustainability criteria in El Salvador’s budgetary process and assigns funds to programs and projects that contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation. Moreover, the Ministry establishes fiscal incentives and support policies to promote the adoption of sustainable practices and technologies—particularly in areas of energy efficiency and renewable energy sources—and implements taxes for activities with higher carbon emissions. Finally, the Ministry evaluates and assesses financial risks associated with climate change for infrastructure and exposure to extreme climate events. 

The Ministry of Public Works, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development addresses climate change by being involved in the planning, design, and construction of infrastructure that is resistant to climate change effects, such as floods, sea-level rises, and other extreme weather events; this includes the construction of dams, improved drainage systems, and roads. The Ministry is also involved in hydric management projects to ensure adequate potable water supplies and to reduce the risk of floods. Additionally, the Ministry guarantees that planned land uses consider climate risks, contribute to restoring coastal ecosystems, and avoid development in areas susceptible to floods or landslides. 

The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) promotes sustainable agricultural practices to reduce pressure on the environment and increase the resilience of agricultural producers to climate change. Moreover, the Ministry promotes crop diversification as a strategy to reduce climate risks for agriculture. The Ministry also contributes to conserving genetic diversity of crops and cattle, provides technical assistance and training to agricultural producers so they can implement sustainable practices, and supports agroforestry (combining trees and crops in the same land plot) to increase agricultural resilience and mitigate the effects of climate change. Finally, the Ministry supports research to develop climate change–resistant crop variations. 

The Ministry of Foreign Relations (MRREE) participates in international climate negotiations and coordinates with other parties to reach commitments and create global measures to address climate change. The Ministry also seeks international funding for climate change mitigation and adaptation projects, engages in diplomatic initiatives to promote climate action and region-wide cooperation in international fora, and promotes regional agreements and alliances to address climate change. 

The Ministry of Health contains an Environmental Health Determinants and Climate Change Unit, which establishes technical and regulatory guidelines on environmental health determinants and climate change. The Unit seeks to ensure the public’s health, well-being, and quality of life. 

The National Council on Environmental Sustainability and Vulnerability comprises the Salvadoran Presidency, the Ministry of Environment and National Resources, the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), the European Union Delegation to El Salvador, the Organization of American States, and the United Nations Development Program. This initiative constitutes a space of coordination and dialogue to design El Salvador’s environmental policies, bringing together academia, private industry, environmental experts, non-governmental organizations, religious authorities, Indigenous communities, political parties, municipal authorities, and the media. 

Education and communication

The Ministry of Education is responsible for the integration of climate change topics into the school curricula, lessons, and education materials. These topics include climate change, environmental conservation, and sustainability. The Ministry also develops and promotes environmental education programs to address key concepts such as climate change mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity, environmental conservation, and sustainable management of natural resources. In addition, this Ministry is responsible for 1) providing training and resources to teachers to prepare them to teach about climate change and related topics; 2) instilling sustainable practices in schools, such as efficient energy and water use, residue reduction, and the promotion of local and organic food products; 3) engaging in public awareness educational campaigns, workshops and events related to climate change; 4) supporting research and innovation in areas related to climate change, including encouraging students to research environmental topics and promote sustainable solution projects; and 5) promoting an ‘environmental culture,’ encouraging students to become environmental defenders and adopt sustainable lifestyles. 

The Ministry of Education has a web portal devoted to higher education. In this portal, the Ministry publishes statistics on the higher education system, information regarding scholarships and funding, publications, and a mechanism to assign special fields to teaching professionals outside of the formal national teaching service. Likewise, the Ministry also has a specific portal devoted to statistics at all levels of education (although it was under maintenance at the time of this Profile’s creation). 

The National Science and Technology Council (CONACYT) performs an important role in promoting research and innovation regarding climate change and coordinating scientific efforts to that effect. This role includes 1) funding scientific and technological research projects related to climate change mitigation and adaptation, climate risk evaluation, and the search for sustainable solutions; 2) supporting interdisciplinary research (including climatology, biology, engineering, and the social sciences) to address the challenges posed by climate change; 3) offering scholarships and training programs for scientists and students who want to research and work on climate change–related topics; 4) representing El Salvador in international climate research programs and networks, disseminating knowledge and best practices alongside partners; 5) facilitating the dissemination of research results related to climate change, promoting public awareness on the importance of addressing climate change, and applying scientific results in policies and practice; and 6) advising scientific and technical government authorities to bolster evidence-based decision-making to address climate change. 

The governmental agencies and organizations involved in responding to climate change in El Salvador also engage in climate change communication. The Ministry of the Environment and National Resources is responsible for conducting public awareness and education campaigns concerning climate change and the importance of environmental conservation. The Ministry also provides environmental education modules, which offer a variety of environmental knowledge sources and best practices. 

The Ministry of Public Works, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development is involved in public awareness and education campaigns surrounding the importance of climate change adaptation and the need to build resilient infrastructure. In parallel, the Ministry of Foreign Relations disseminates information regarding the impact of climate change on El Salvador and the region and integrates climate considerations into governmental policy and decisions that are communicated to the public.

III) Relevant laws, policies, and plans

Climate change

The Salvadoran Constitution (1983) includes several provisions on environmental protection and sustainability. The Salvadoran Constitution enshrines the Salvadoran State’s responsibility to protect, conserve, and recover the environment, and ensures the sustainable use of natural resources to guarantee Salvadorans’ right to an improved quality of life, including present and future generations. The Constitution also demands that the Salvadoran State regulate public environmental management as one of its essential obligations, ensuring municipalities and inhabitants’ right to use and enjoy a healthy environment. 

The Environmental Law (1998) establishes the legal framework for environmental management in El Salvador. This includes the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity conservation. Several titles of the Environmental Law are described below.

Title II of the Environmental Law includes provisions for the Salvadoran State’s environmental management, including the Environmental Management System, overseen by the Ministry of the Environment and National Resources. The System’s objectives are: 1) establishing coordination mechanisms for governmental environmental management among public sector entities and institutions; 2) mainstreaming a functional organization for environmental structure in Salvadoran public sector ministries, entities, and institutions; 3) outlining procedures to generate, systematize, register, and provide information on environmental management and the state of the environment in the context of governmental plans and policies, and aid the evaluation of environmental impacts in sectoral policies; 4) ensuring the execution, monitoring, and evaluation of environmental policies, plans, and strategies are the responsibility of the directorates of public sector entities and institutions; and 5) establishing norms for participation and coordination among public sector entities, institutions, and the Ministry. 

The Salvadoran National Climate Change Plan (2012) aims to promote climate change mitigation and adaptation in the country. This policy establishes objectives and strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase El Salvador’s resilience to climate change. The objectives and strategies contemplated by the National Climate Change Plan include the following: 1) including climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction programs in municipal and local development plans, public policies, and the modernization of public institutions; 2) developing a program to protect public finances and reduce losses and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change; 3) developing programs to transform and diversify agricultural, forestry, and agroforestry practices and activities; and 4) executing programs to promote the adaptation of water resources to climate change, renewable energy efficiency and energy security, and resilient low-carbon coastal and urban development. 

The Salvadoran Forest Policy (2012), formulated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, focuses on reforestation and the promotion of sustainable agricultural practices to mitigate the effects of climate change and enhance climate change adaptation. This policy includes eight strategic objectives:

  • Organize forests and define and identify lands that must be permanently protected.
  • Promote sustainable uses of productive forests to ensure healthier ecosystems.
  • Restore forest ecosystems through reforestation and agroforestry.
  • Reduce vulnerability of the countries’ productive ecosystems to climate change impacts.
  • Strengthen the capacity of civil society and private industry to participate actively and democratically in forest management.
  • Promote the participation of institutions, municipalities, and communities in forest control and management activities. 
  • Implement a model of integral forest management.
  • Modernize regulations and legal frameworks to respond to the challenge posed by climate change. 

The Salvadoran National Climate Change Strategy (2013) guides government action in response to climate change. This strategy establishes guidelines and programs for climate change mitigation and adaptation and to reduce risks related to extreme climate events. This strategy is organized along three key axes: 1) critical investment to reduce the losses and damage attributed to extreme climate events; 2) risk retention and transfer to respond effectively to losses and damage caused by extreme climate events and to finance phases of emergency response and rehabilitation after catastrophic events through a reserve fund; 3) effective participation in international negotiations to introduce the topic of climate change into negotiation agendas to ensure El Salvador’s informed contribution to international and regional fora. 

The Salvadoran Gender Equality and Equity Policy (2016) includes a key environmental consideration. When discussing infancy and adolescence, the Policy highlights the importance of including topics related to the environment in educational programs; this is an essential way to guarantee non-discrimination and equal opportunity in educational centres. 

The Sustainable El Salvador Plan (2018) is a strategic plan devised by the Salvadoran government that includes measures to address climate change through the promotion of renewable energy, ecosystem conservation, sustainable natural resource management, and sustainable agricultural practices. The Plan, overseen by the National Environmental Sustainability and Vulnerability National Council, includes strategic axes for integral risk management to reduce climate change–related disasters, knowledge management, and the promotion of a culture of sustainability.

The National Policy for Civil Protection, Risk Prevention and Disaster Mitigation (2019) aims to reduce El Salvador’s vulnerability to extreme climate events and other natural disasters. To do so, the policy includes four axes: 1) improving comprehension of disaster risk, including in school settings; 2) strengthening disaster risk governance; 3) investing in disaster risk reduction; and 4) increasing preparedness to respond to natural disasters. 

Lastly, the 2020 National Energy Policy 2020–2024 promotes the reduction of fossil fuel use in transportation, industry, and households with the aim of diversifying the country’s energy sources and reducing its dependence on external supplies. The National Energy Policy (2020) also emphasizes the importance of developing alternative energy sources (such as wind energy, photovoltaic energy, or biofuels) while continuing the development of conventional hydropower and geothermal energy sources.

Education and communication

The General Education Law of 2011 establishes the legal framework for El Salvador’s education system and regulates aspects such as the structure of the education system, school management, teacher training, and the rights and responsibilities of students. The Law highlights how the Salvadoran Constitution (1983) declared the protection, conservation, and rational use of the environment as an indivisible right of Salvadorans; to that effect, the Law establishes the improvement of people’s relationship with their environment as a fundamental objective, mandating its incorporation into study plans and programs and the country’s economic and social development. In addition, Article 11 of the General Education Law establishes that all levels of formal education are open to everyone from non-formal or informal education. 

The 2012–2022 Integral Risk Management and Climate Change Education Plan (2012) addresses the risk of natural disasters to the country and increases El Salvador’s resilience and reduces its vulnerability through strategies oriented toward climate change, risk management, and education. The Plan provides an assessment, legal foundations, and strategic objectives, followed by a three-year program detailing actions, targets, resources, and institutions responsible for implementation. 

Decree 913 of 2018 created the National Institute of Teacher Training (INFOD). The primary objective of INFOD is the initial and permanent training of teachers to develop their professional careers, providing graduate training in diverse areas and opportunities to update existing knowledge, and guaranteeing educational quality and continual learning. 

The Salvadoran National Climate Education Policy (2018) outlines the guidelines and strategies for promoting environmental education in the country. First, the Policy promotes environmental awareness, the comprehension of environmental problems, sustainable practices, and the active participation of citizens in environmental protection. The Policy also emphasizes the need for an interdisciplinary approach to environmental education, acknowledging that environmental problems are complex and, therefore, require collaboration between different disciplines and areas of knowledge. Furthermore, the Policy underscores the importance of incorporating environmental content and learning outcomes into the curriculum at all educational levels—from pre-primary to secondary education—and highlights the importance of developing and supplying educational resources related to the environment—including textbooks, didactic material, and online tools.

The 2019 National Plan for Teacher Training strengthens the training of teachers and upgrades teaching in El Salvador, promoting continuous teacher professional development. To fulfill this objective in connection to climate change, the Plan establishes new specialization opportunities for teachers in fundamental areas of instruction, such as sexuality, ethics, gender, environmental education, and climate change risk management; the Plan also establishes Science, Health, and Environmental Education as priority areas for teacher specialization in primary education. 

The Policy for Coordination of Technical Education, Professional Training, and the Productive Apparatus (2019) strengthens employment opportunities, innovation, and industrial competitiveness and aligns training with the needs of the Salvadoran labor market. Within its assessment of technical education and vocational training in the country, the proposal calls for an articulation model between the technical education system and industry, and for the formation of a Technical Education and Vocational Training Council. The Policy prioritizes the following:

  • Active participation of industrial sectors in the definition of educational programs and the provision of internships for students.
  • Further opportunities for continuing education and training for workers and professionals to update their capabilities in accordance with industry trends.
  • Support for obtaining certificates and accreditation recognized by industry to validate abilities and competencies acquired by graduates of technical and vocational programs. 


The 2021 Strategic Institutional Plan, devised by the Ministry of Education, outlines six priorities for the post-pandemic recovery of the educational sector. These include 1) the application of a life cycle pedagogical approach to guarantee quality learning and a pertinent and inclusive curriculum; 2) the professionalization of the teachers’ corps; 3) leveraging the positive impacts of science, technology, and innovation to positively impact the educational sector; 4) bolstering education infrastructure adherent to quality standards and security, which favours teaching and learning processes in sustainable settings; 5) having diversity and inclusion occupy a central role in education and coexistence; and 6) transforming educational institutions to better suit the needs of rural and remote communities. 

The 2021 National Education Plan projects policies and strategies to guide the development of El Salvador’s education system for the next decade, including objectives related to increasing educational quality, equity, teacher training and bolstering technical and technological education. Among the Plan’s priorities are:

  • Increasing access to education through flexible modalities of primary and secondary education focusing on increasing basic education coverage among the poorest sectors of Salvadoran society, universalizing pre-primary education, and mainstreaming diversity education among all levels. 
  • Enhancing the effectiveness of primary and secondary education through physical and institutional environments to favour learning, establishing national evaluation criteria to increase the competencies and motivation of teachers, overhauling the national curriculum framework, and providing further opportunities for certification and accreditation of educational institutions.
  • Raising El Salvador’s competitiveness on the international stage through teaching English as a second language, providing greater access to technology and connectivity, and providing greater coordination to ensure improved science and technology outcomes in secondary and higher education. 
  • Installing better management practices through social participation and organizational development in education and constructing information, monitoring, and evaluation systems throughout all levels of education. 

The 2021
National Higher Education Policy outlines the general objectives for higher education in El Salvador related to quality of education, equity in access, research and development, innovation, internationalization, employability, technical and vocational education, evaluation and accreditation, student participation, and financing. One of the Policy’s main lines of action is addressing societal problems such as human rights, the environment, educational pertinence, gender equality, social and economic justice, and peacebuilding in teaching and research activity. The Policy also mandates the implementation of multi-modal curricula that blend in-person education with online learning, internationalization, and citizen participation to increase harmony with the environment and environmental conservation.

IV) Terminology used for climate communication and education

El Salvador’s National Plan for Adaptation to Climate Change (2019) adopts a generally accepted definition of climate change based on scientific consensus and international agreements. Climate change is defined as a long-term shift in temperature, precipitation, wind, and other climate patterns, which can be the result of variations in natural factors (such as solar activity or volcanic eruptions), as well as anthropogenic factors (such as greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity, fossil fuel burning, and deforestation). 

The Salvadoran National Climate Education Policy (2018) defines climate change education as a continual, permanent, and holistic process oriented to creating values, constructing knowledge, and developing conscious awareness and capacities to promote individual and collective action conducive to a sustainable development model; this is based on the balanced relations between people, institutions, and the environment and acknowledging nature’s limits and conditions. 

The Salvadoran National Climate Education Policy (2018) defines formal environmental education as a pivotal part of the national education system and a planned, systematic, sequential, and permanent process involving teachers.

V) Budget for climate communication and education

According to the Public Spending and Institutional Analysis for Climate Change (2018), climate change spending has fluctuated as a percentage of the GDP and total spending in El Salvador. In 2015, climate spending in El Salvador was 1.0% of GDP (USD $241,870,000) and 7.62% of the public spending.

The Public Spending and Institutional Analysis for Climate Change also illustrates that, when sorted by climate category (i.e., adaptation, mitigation, or attention to losses and damage) and covering the period from 2011 to 2015, 63.29% of El Salvador’s climate budget was spent on adaptation activities, while mitigation activities received 27.12% of the spending and 9.59% was directed to activities related to losses and damage. At the time of writing this profile, it was not clear exactly what magnitude of funds were appropriated directly for climate change communication and education efforts. 

El Salvador has also taken additional measures to finance climate change communication and education. The Salvadoran government has launched a Climate Financing Forum alongside the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to foster collective action addressing climate challenges. More recently, the Salvadoran government inaugurated the Climate Action, Financing, and Best Practices Fair, in collaboration with the UNDP, highlighting the country’s commitment to limiting global warming, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and identifying banking and financing strategies for climate action. 


I) Climate change in pre-primary, primary, and secondary education

El Salvador’s National Curricular Framework (2008) introduces several guidelines for climate change education at the pre-primary, primary, and secondary levels. First, at the pre-primary level, the Framework defines 10 competencies related to the 3 areas of experience and knowledge: personal development; knowledge of the natural, social, and cultural environment; and creative expression and language. One of these competencies—autonomy—requires students to demonstrate increasing control and organization to conduct tasks and an increased capacity to resolve daily situations with creativity and originality; this shows that they are developing a relationship to their immediate environment. Per the Framework, this requires discovery and understanding of the environment and sets the basis for establishing a relationship of respect and collaboration when interacting with the environment. This type of general education begins at the preschool level, although students learn about climate change for the first time in 7th grade, which is when the basic cycle of education begins in the Salvadoran school system. 

The Ministry of Education also spearheads a program called the Environmental Risk Protection and Management in the Educational Community program. This program aims to train educational communities in disaster risk reduction skills and efficient resource use to minimize the negative effects of climate change and bolster environmental sustainability. 

The Ministry of the Environment also supports the establishment of environmental schools in municipalities (including Tonacatepeque, Aguilares, San José Guayabal, Suchitoto, and Guazapa). This initiative aims to promote environmental education and involve local stakeholders through guidelines and training workshops regarding waste generation, climate change, pollution, and waste management. 

At the primary level of education, science, health, and environmental education are prioritized. This involves increasing students’ capacity for problem resolution through research and science and constructing knowledge through the application of scientific procedures to resolve daily life situations related to science and technology. In addition, students are expected to develop research activities and projects where they apply knowledge, reasoning, communication, argumentation, and the presentation of ideas through multiple media. Students are expected to increase their ability to: 1) communicate information through scientific language, 2) apply scientific procedures, and 3) employ scientific reasoning and interpretation. 

The Ministry of Education and the Foundation for Social Action (FUNDEMAS) signed a five-year cooperation agreement in 2019. This partnership generated an e-learning platform to enhance environmental education, natural resource management, risk prevention, and climate change adaptation, and seeks to leverage further technological opportunities through public-private collaborations.

II) Climate change in teacher training and teacher resources

The Salvadoran 2018 National Climate Education Policy prioritizes the delivery of updated and contextualized didactic material to teachers, emphasizing methodologies to help teachers and students at all education levels implement environmental projects. Subsequently, when referring specifically to the academic sector, the Policy demands strengthening the skills of teachers to change behaviours and promote values, analyses, opinions, reflections, research, and environmental conservation practices. Moreover, through its strategic axis 1.2., the Policy calls for bolstering the competencies of teachers in training and in public service so they can integrate learning processes and active methodologies to spur experimentation inside and outside the classroom and help students to develop environmental projects that benefit their immediate environment and their communities. 

The 2018 National Climate Education Policy outlines climate change modules and courses that teachers must incorporate into their study and lesson plans; these will address issues such as climate science, mitigation, adaptation, and the importance of further climate action. The Policy includes educational resources developed by UN agencies such as UNESCO, as well as practical activities like experiments on greenhouse gas effects, climate data analysis, visits to sites impacted by climate change (i.e.,  natural parks or ecological reserves), or the screening of documentaries. 

The National Climate Education Policy mandates that teachers receive further instruction to integrate climate change–related concepts from a variety of disciplines, including the natural sciences, mathematics, geography, and the social sciences. The Policy also elicits cooperation with El Salvador’s higher education institutions so teachers may receive further education on sustainable teaching practices that promote environmental and climate education in their classrooms, including the use of active learning methodologies, participation in students’ environmental projects, and the incorporation of practical examples and case studies related to climate change in their teaching. According to the Policy, teachers should include educational resources to complement their climate change teaching, such as publicly available didactic materials, videos, simulations, and educational websites. The Policy provides opportunities for teachers to participate in practical experiences related to climate change, such as visits to protected natural areas, conservation project sites, and reforesting actions, which will enhance their understanding of climate change and their ability to engage effectively in climate education. 

The 2018 National Climate Education Policy also focuses on providing opportunities for teachers to improve their professional communication skills and interpersonal relationships in connection to climate change education. To this effect, the Policy calls on Salvadoran higher education institutions and research centres to provide public service teachers with periodical updates regarding the latest scientific and policy advances on climate change, and also to incorporate teachers into networks and communities of practice where they can share resources, ideas, and best practices with colleagues to further climate education. 

In the framework of the 2018 National Climate Education Policy, the Protection and Management of Environmental Risk in the Educational Community program calls for developing competencies for the reduction of disaster risks (as a product of climate change) in the educational community. To this end, it equips teachers with information on the efficient use of institutional resources to diminish the negative impact of disasters and contribute to environmental sustainability. 

The Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources also organized a virtual forum on the impacts of climate change during the COVID-19 pandemic. This forum was attended by 300 students and teachers, where the topic of the importance of protected natural areas and ecosystems was discussed, as well as climate change adaptation and mitigation actions. In addition, the Ministry has also generated specific virtual training modules on the topic of gender and climate change. This module delves specifically into the linkage between gender equality and the environment, the connections between gender and biodiversity, and how gender equality can ensure sustainable development.

III) Climate change in higher education

The undergraduate and graduate programs related to climate change in Salvadoran universities are relatively limited. However, the University of San Salvador offers a bi-national Doctorate in Global Studies in association with Berlin’s Humboldt University. This Doctorate includes research on Sustainability and Social Transformation in the Anthropocene, including topics such as climate change, biodiversity, demographic explosion, collaborative economy, collective learning, and alternative frameworks such as ‘Living Well’ and ‘Postdevelopment.’ 

The Ministry of the Environment and National Resources launched a Virtual Environmental Education Program for Higher Education. This program aims to enhance environmental education within universities, using modules to cover topics such as biodiversity, climate change, and environmentally respectful habits and attitudes. In parallel, the Ministry is also working with higher education institutions and the Network of Higher Education Institutions in El Salvador for the Strengthening of Environmental Education and Culture (RIESCCA) to promote environmental responsibility within society. 

However, regional research centres offer alternatives. The Tropical Agronomic Centre for Research and Teaching (CATIE)—which is open to students from Belize, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Dominican Republic, and Venezuela—offers a Master’s Degree in Economy, Development and Climate Change. In parallel, the Centroamerican Institute of Public Administration (ICAP) hosts a Sustainable Development Innovation Lab for students around the region and coordinates knowledge production and dissemination on sustainable development; this places students in the position to work in the service of decision-makers and stakeholders. 

The 2021 National Higher Education Policy highlights several key measures for bolstering climate change education in higher education. These include 1) incorporating specific courses on climate change and environmental sustainability in university faculties through programs offered in Environmental Sciences, Biology, Political Science, and Economics; 2) offering graduate and postgraduate programs in environmental studies or climate change–related areas of knowledge, emphasizing professionals’ and researchers’ understanding of climate challenges and sustainable solutions; 3) promoting scientific and applied research on climate change and its local impacts, including funding research projects alongside the National Science and Technology Council; 4) organizing conferences, symposiums, and events related to climate change on campuses and providing funding and support to encourage tenured and tenure-track professors to attend national and international conferences related to climate change; 5) implementing sustainability projects on university campuses—involving efficient energy use, residue management, and sustainable transportation—as practical examples of climate solutions and learning; and 6) fostering non-formal education programs such as workshops, guest lectures, and extracurricular activities related to climate change, involving attendees from Salvadoran society’s poorest or marginalized sectors. These programs include community tree planting events, environmental film screenings, youth climate clubs, and local food and sustainable agricultural initiatives.

In addition, a virtual forum on climate change impacts during COVID-19 was held by the Ministry of the Interior. This forum involved 300 students and faculty from around the nation, discussing topics such as the importance of protected natural areas and actions for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

IV) Climate change in training and adult learning

The Policy for Coordination of Technical Education, Professional Training and the Productive Apparatus (2019) is responsible for setting the guidelines for training and adult learning in the country. However, among the Policy’s assessment, scope definition, and proposed articulation model between technical education and vocational training programs, no specific or in-depth mentions of sustainable development or climate change were found. Moreover, in the Policy’s content related to the creation of a Technical Education and Vocational Training Council and the projects to be prioritized by this Council, no specific or in-depth mentions of sustainable development or climate change were found. 


I) Climate change and public awareness

El Salvador’s latest Nationally Determined Contribution (2021) contains valuable information regarding ongoing efforts to increase public awareness surrounding climate change in the country. First, to advance the field of electromobility, the document highlights El Salvador’s commitment to large-scale development, training, and public awareness programs to encourage the acceptance and operation of electric vehicles. Subsequently, the Nationally Determined Contribution describes the Local Restoration and Sustainable Environmental Development Plans, and with the participation of local communities, private industry, non-governmental organizations, small-scale agricultural producers, local authorities and Indigenous peoples, these Plans highlight that public awareness and public communication are pivotal to developing opportunities and benefits in the agricultural sector.

El Salvador’s Nationally Determined Contribution also highlights public awareness around improvements in production chains and sustainable agriculture on a local level. One of these initiatives, developed by the local government in Morazán in association with the National Centre for Agricultural and Forestry Technology, highlights public awareness to increase knowledge on these initiatives and their contribution to climate change adaptation and mitigation. Similarly, when discussing conservation, restoration, and rehabilitation of ecosystems and landscapes, El Salvador’s Nationally Determined Contribution identifies the importance of incorporating public awareness and communication actions to disseminate sustainable lifestyles and restore ecosystems, and highlights the benefits of these actions for the population. The Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources are tasked with developing continuous public awareness campaigns to communicate the milestones and achievements of efforts stemming from the implementation of Local Restoration Plans and Environmental Sustainable Development plans. The Nationally Determined Contribution is also aware of the different policy needs at an urban and a rural level in the country; consequently, the strengthening of environmental education and public awareness in El Salvador’s cities will encourage a low-carbon resilient development model that does not harm the capacity of urban settlements to sustain life. 

Within El Salvador’s Nationally Determined Contribution, public awareness is also set as a priority for residue reduction, elimination, and final disposal. Within the implementation framework of policies in this area, the country emphasizes the need to improve levels of public awareness, communication, and participation of governmental and social actors. The Nationally Determined Contribution highlights advances in incorporating public awareness and communication campaigns into national-level policies to promote the production, sale, and consumption of products made with recyclable materials. In a similar fashion, public awareness and communication is highlighted as a pivotal element to achieve sustainable lifestyles, including the use of mass public transit, bicycles, walkways, and restricted speed zones.

El Salvador’s Third National Communication (2018) outlines how public awareness has been incorporated into the country’s main climate change mitigation actions. For instance, in the scope of developing San Salvador’s Metropolitan Area Integrated Transportation System (SITRAMSS), a large-scale public and social awareness component was incorporated to ensure that citizens were involved in overseeing the purchase of units and the design of routes; this would ensure that the SITRAMSS can achieve its maximum potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, in the section devoted to strengthening public access to information, El Salvador’s Third National Communication still identifies public awareness as a key priority and improvement area, particularly as the Ministry of the Environment and National Resources continues to develop information and technological resources (e.g., geographic information and satellite cartography systems) and demand increases for financial credits and services that incentivize climate change adaptation and mitigation. 

The Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (MARN) also hosts the Hablemos Verde virtual forum. This forum encompasses themes such as corporate environmental responsibility, the importance of environmental education in schools, and the relevance of environmental education for tourism.

The Women and Climate Change Coalition in El Salvador launched a campaign to increase awareness regarding gender-focused climate adaptation. This campaign promotes gender equality and empowers women to address the environmental and social challenges that disproportionately affect them, and bolsters their roles as leaders in climate mitigation and adaptation.

II) Climate change and public access to information

The 1998 Environmental Law devotes an entire section to environmental information, laying the legal groundwork for how this type of information is shared with the Salvadoran public. The Environmental Law mandates that the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources and the Environmental Management System must recompile, update, and publish environmental information that can be freely accessed by the public. In conjunction, the Ministry (through the Information and Documentation Center) is also responsible for elaborating biannual National Environmental Reports, whereby the President of the Republic updates the public on the progress of environmental policies. 

The Sustainable El Salvador Plan (2018) defines public access to information as a key priority under its guidelines for knowledge management and sustainability culture. One of the specific ways that public access to information is prioritized in this document is through designing and implementing a national sustainable consumption strategy, which includes green labelling and environmentally conscious packaging of products; this strategy was launched in 2020. Another example of public information defined in the Sustainable El Salvador Plan relates to risk management, specifically calling for the introduction of baseline information about climate vulnerability and risk in population, housing, agricultural and economic censuses; this was initiated in 2019.

III) Climate change and public participation

Public participation is extensively addressed in El Salvador’s 2021 Nationally Determined Contribution. First, public participation is mentioned as a crucial element when rehabilitating forests and ecosystems, particularly incorporating local communities, industry, non-governmental organizations, small-scale agricultural producers, local governments, and Indigenous communities in municipal spaces to discuss restoration and conservation efforts. 

El Salvador’s 2021 Nationally Determined Contribution also highlights public participation as a key element behind incorporating local and ancestral knowledge into the policies and strategies mentioned in previous sections of this profile. For example, when implementing the Salvadoran Forest Policy, women in rural communities were able to contribute knowledge for transitioning toward sustainable production of corn, beans, sorghum, and rice. The document emphasizes that prioritizing participation in the local and ancestral knowledge of rural communities is vital for the development, promotion, and appropriation of sustainable practices. 

Diversity is also a key parameter of public participation, established in El Salvador’s 2021 Nationally Determined Contribution. To improve production chains of vegetables, fruits, and livestock in the departments of Usulután, San Miguel, La Unión and Morazán, an indicator was established to have 40% women participating as members of beneficiary organizations; this ensured that women were included alongside youth and Indigenous peoples. Additionally, the inclusion of children, youth, and adolescents was also prioritized as a key element of participation. 

El Salvador’s Nationally Determined Contribution highlights how the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources are expected to enable public participation. These two ministries are responsible for coordinating interinstitutional workspaces and participation to ensure discussion, consensus, and inclusive decision-making around technical and scientific aspects and policies. These workspaces have been used in initiatives such as improving production chains of vegetables, fruits, and livestock in the departments of Usulután, San Miguel, La Unión, and Morazán and in efforts for ecosystem conservation, restoration, and rehabilitation. 

El Salvador’s Third National Communication (2018) highlights public participation as one of the key elements to continuously monitor progress in the implementation of El Salvador’s 2012 National Climate Change Plan. The Communication explains how, in June of 2017, a significant monitoring exercise was conducted with the active participation of civil society, identifying substantial progress on adapting hydric resources, promoting renewable energy, and managing ecosystem and biodiversity, as well as making potential improvements to agricultural practices and low-carbon, climate-resilient urban and coastal development. 

In addition, El Salvador’s Third National Communication (2018) recognizes public participation as a central pillar of the country’s efforts to conserve, restore, and rehabilitate ecosystems and protected areas. A strategy for the participation of civil society has been incorporated into these efforts, enabling communities to contribute to policy and decision-making. A practical example of policy guided by this form of participation was the identification of seven protected sites, encompassing 204,479 hectares and wetlands. When discussing integral management of residues and solid waste, the Communication also mentioned that citizen participation was an area of improvement and priority. 

To encourage public participation, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources delivers a National Environmental Award recognizing eco-innovative practices in the fields of sustainable education, ecosystem and biodiversity conservation, and environmental management. The Ministry also collaborates with the Panamanian government to conduct virtual training for environmental leaders, covering topics like single-use plastics, water resource conservation, and home composting. The Salvadoran government has sponsored the Clean Rivers SOS initiative, which aims to clean six of the largest rivers in the country. Lastly, the Ministry hosted the Acting on Climate Change Student Forum, where 400 participants received information on hydric resiliency initiatives and other climate change mitigation and adaptation measures.


I) Country monitoring

El Salvador primarily centralizes its country monitoring efforts under the Environmental Management System. The System is responsible for monitoring El Salvador’s efforts in six key areas:

  1. The design and implementation of environmental policies to protect and preserve natural resources and promote sustainability.
  2. The implementation and oversight of environmental regulations to guarantee the enforcement of environmental laws and norms. 
  3. The conduct of environmental education and public awareness campaigns to enable citizen participation in environmental conservation.
  4. The evaluation of possible environmental impacts of economic projects and activities and the issuing of environmental licences.
  5. The promotion of biodiversity conservation and management of protected areas. 
  6. The gathering and monitoring of data regarding the state of the environment, including water, air, and soil quality, as well as residue management and contamination mitigation.


However, at time this country profile was being prepared, no consolidated, national-level presentation or report of the results from the Environmental Management System was publicly available. The Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources does provide public access to its Environmental Assessment System; however, rather than the Evaluation and Compliance Directorate monitoring and presenting assessments on the six areas outlined above, this system provides information on environmental service providers and the progress of different projects toward obtaining environmental licences to operate or explore areas. 

The country’s Voluntary National Review (2022) includes some noteworthy information regarding the monitoring of progress on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 4 and 13. Regarding SDG 4, the Review identifies a regression in the country’s percentage of public education centres that have incorporated environmental education, risk reduction, and climate change into their pedagogical guidelines: 51% of public education centres had progress in this area by 2021, from a 2015 baseline value of 58.24%. Additionally, El Salvador’s Voluntary National Review identifies that the country has regressed in the following indicators for SDG 13:

  1. The number of deaths, disappearances, and inhabitants directly affected by disasters increased from 4.76 per every 100,000 inhabitants in 2015 to 6.56 per every 100,000 inhabitants in 2021.
  2. The percentage of public educational centres incorporating School Protection Plans in their Annual School Plan decreased from 90.88% in 2015 to 40% in 2021. 

The Salvadoran National Meteorological Service plays a crucial role in reducing climate risks and increasing disaster preparedness in the country. The Service provides information and forecasts, including weather forecasts, meteorological alerts, and research on extreme weather events. 

II) MECCE Project Monitoring

The Monitoring and Evaluating Climate Communication and Education (MECCE) Project examined El Salvador’s First Grade Curriculum for Basic Education (2008) for references to ‘climate change,’ ‘environment,’ ‘sustainability,’ and ‘biodiversity.’ Four total references were found, all related to the term ‘environment.’ No references to ‘biodiversity,’ ‘sustainability,’ or ‘climate change’ were found.

The MECCE Project also examined El Salvador’s Second Grade Curriculum for Basic Education (2008) for references to ‘climate change,’ ‘environment,’ ‘sustainability,’ and ‘biodiversity’. Five total references were found, all related to the term ‘environment.’ No references to ‘biodiversity,’ ‘sustainability,’ or ‘climate change’ were found. 

El Salvador Education Sector Plan 2019–2024 (2019) was also analyzed by the MECCE Project for references to ‘climate change,’ ‘environment,’ ‘sustainability,’ and ‘biodiversity.’ The term ‘climate change’ is mentioned 9 times in the document. Terminology related to the ‘environment’ is used 12 times, as well as terms related to ‘sustainability.’ The document does not mention the term ‘biodiversity.’

This section will be updated as the MECCE Project develops.