The Yasuní Oil Exploitation

The Yasuní Natural Park in Ecuador is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, that covers almost 10 000 km², is supposedly one of the most biologically diverse places in the world, and has several indigenous peoples that, for some, still live apart from the modern society. This rain forest is particularly known for containing approximately 20% of Ecuador’s reserves of crude.

In 2007, Ecuador’s President, Rafael Correa, went to the General Assembly of the United Nations and presented the Yasuní-ITT (Ishpingo-Tiputini-Tambococha oil fields) Proposal. The objective was to protect these crude reserves, and in particular to protect the natural park and its riches. Indeed, the exploitation of oil would severely endanger the species that live in the park, but mostly the populations. What was his idea? These oil reserves would amount to more or less $7 billion for his country. Since not drilling would be beneficial for the entire international community (due to the carbon emissions that would be issued, the peoples that would be endangered and exploiting a natural park that is a “biosphere reserve”), he asked the United Nations members to give to Ecuador half of the money that would otherwise be extracted from the soils. The amount he asked for was thus of $3.6 billion, that would revert to the Ecuadorian State.

Many, even in Ecuador, criticized him for this initiative, specially because Ecuador is the only country that has in its Constitution the Rights of the Environment, just as the Rights of People. In this interesting video about this controversy, an activist makes the following comparison: “That is a blackmail […] I can’t say ‘I have three children, if I don’t get enough [money] to feed my three children, I will sell one of my children’ […] the state has an obligation to protect this reserve [and] to protect what is in there […]”. Whether one agrees with this or not, the truth is that the international community did not really support Correa’s initiative. Ecuador was only able to gather 4% of the asked funds. Correa said “The world has failed us.”.  Therefore, in 2013, President Correa announced that the Yasuní-ITT area was going to be exploited. Blame and shame, or necessary decision?…

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