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Ecuador: The Last Push For A Chance Of A Reprieve On Yasuní

LAM - Conciousness Community Sustainability

Yasuní National Park (photo by Pedro Bermeo)

Yasuní National Park (photo by Pedro Bermeo)

"Do you agree that the Ecuadorean government should keep the crude in the ITT, known as block 43, underground indefinitely?"

This is the question that will be put to a national referendum in Ecuador if 584,000 signatures are collected (5% of registered voters in a country of 15 million people) before the deadline of 12th April 2014. Over 50% of the signatures required, have been collected so far but a concerted effort will be needed to meet the target over the next month.

The collection of signatures is being led by YASunidos, a newly formed alliance of groups seeking to overturn president Rafael Correa's abandonment of the Yasuní-ITT Initiative which is a proposal to leave crude oil unexploited in the Ecuadorian Amazon, in the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini (ITT) oil fields in the Yasuní National Park, thus protecting one of the most biodiverse regions on Earth as well as indigenous peoples who live within the park.

I have been following the Yasuni-ITT Initiative since I first heard about it in 2007 and was devastated to hear the announcement of its annulment in August last year – see here for my response then, and more detailed information about the Initiative: Yasuní-ITT Initiative to be scrapped.

 
OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT CORREA FROM RENOWNED ANTHROPOLOGIST LAURA RIVAL
Oxford, 30 August 2013

Mister President,

I am taking upon myself to write personally to you and to do so in the language of my country of adoption, the United Kingdom, where you have many admirers (http://liberalconspiracy.org/2013/02/17/letter-celebrating-the-achievements-of-ecuadors-citizens-revolution/), including my person. I was vaguely aware of the Yasuní Initiative, which you embraced during your first electoral campaign, but it is the speech you gave at Chatham House in London on 27 October 2009 that swayed me. I translated your speech into English, and my students distributed it widely. I started my first publication about the Yasuní Initiative with direct quotes from your speech:

"Ecuador seeks to transform old notions of economics and the concept of value. In the market system, the only possible value is the exchange value, the price. The Yasuní-ITT Project is based on the recognition of use and service of non-chrematistic values of environmental security and maintenance of world biodiversity. The project ushers in a new economic logic for the 21st century, one in which what is compensated for is not just the production of commodities, but the generation of value."

There are things which have a high value, but no price. Some things have very little value, yet fetch high prices; and things with great value may be priceless. Like friendship, happiness and security, the environment is priceless. In our wellbeing approach to the economy, an economy geared to generate wellbeing for all, we seek to generate value, to preserve value, and to compensate for the generation of value. This means changing the market logic through collective action, and seeking other logics beyond the profit logic through agreement, justice and responsibility. This means not relying exclusively on a monetary scale of values. Things that do not have a price can be evaluated in value terms. Biodiversity has multiple values. The environment is not just natural resources, it's not just another factor of production along labour and capital. To conserve nature for future generations can be an end in itself. We need nature to live."

 
Open letter to the President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, as the date approaches for assessment of the Yasuní-ITT initiative

17th of June 2013

Mr. President:

We wish to register our opposition to the way that the Yasuni-ITT initiative is being dismantled without proper public discussion and review and to what appear to be attempts to make petroleum exploitation in Yasuni National Park a fait accompli.

A concession of dubious legality has been awarded for Block 31; a new road inside Yasuni National Park is being built, literally paving the way for extraction; pipelines are being installed; an oil-extraction corridor to the ITT fields is being prepared for the Chinese company PetroOriental. At the same time, a negative assessment of the state of the Yasuni-ITT initiative is being prepared which claims that international interest in the initiative is lacking.

All of these actions, which are being undertaken in advance of any publicly-announced decision about oil exploitation in Yasuni, seem designed to ensure as quick a start to oil exploitation as possible. They are of a piece with other recent actions with high environmental costs: the growth of large-scale mining in various regions of the country, the opening of the oil frontier in the south central Amazon region, the advance of genetically-modified crops and large-scale dams, the criminalization of social protest, and the control and disciplining of critical NGOs. They can only be seen as part of a process of decision-making by stealth.

 
Yasuní and oil exploitation
Scientists from all over the world have qualified Yasuní as the zone with the highest biodiversity of the world. Within one hectare of Yasuní, 644 different species of trees have been identified. There are as many different species in one hectare of Yasuní, as there are in the whole of North America.
Yasuní has been declared a world biosphere reserve by UNESCO.
 
This biosphere reserve is also the territory of the indigenous Huaorani people and some tribes who live in voluntary isolation. These are the last free human beings of Ecuador, true warriors who live in the so-called society of abundance, because they only produce the minimum to satisfy their own needs.
 
The foreseeable impacts of oil exploitation in the park are: contamination, deforestation, destruction of the social fabric, extinction of cultures etc. 
 
"Keep the Oil in the Soil": Ecuador Seeks Money to Keep Untapped Oil Resources Underground

Democracy Now
As delegates discuss various ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Copenhagen, Ecuador has a simple message: keep untapped oil in the ground. Ivonne Yanez is an environmental activist from Ecuador, one of the larger oil producing countries in Latin America. Ecuador is believed to be sitting on an oil reserve of hundreds of millions of barrels. But the oil is located in the Yasuni National Park, one of the most biodiverse places on the planet. Ecuador has launched a unique campaign to have the international community compensate the country in exchange for keeping the oil in the ground.

 
Your Comments
In this section, you can leave your comments to this proposal....
 
The Solution
The President of the Republic of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, has indicated that the first option for the country is to leave the crude oil of Yasuní untouched underground.  The idea is to stimulate the national and international society to contribute in this expensive national decision. The government expects, through this mechanism, to recover 50% of the income it would have obtained by extracting the crude oil.
 
The State will emit certificates for the crude oil of Yasuní, and promise to keep the crude underground forever and use the funds to better protect Yasuní National Park. 

The arguments in favour of this proposal are:

  1. This proposal is the only unquestioned solution to climate change
  2. Conservation of biodiversity 
  3. Protection of the indigenous inhabitants of Yasuní
  4. Transformation of the Ecuadorian economy away from oil

Read more about this proposal...

 
The worst case of oil pollution on the planet
texacoChevron-Texaco in the Ecuadorian amazon region:
Chevron is responsible for creating toxic contamination 30 times larger than the Exxon Valdez
 

Latest news ...

03 July 2014, 12.11
The Guardian Ecuador's government was moving to install a power plant to exploit oil fields under the iconic Yasuni national park at the same time as pursuing a high-profile international scheme not to exploit the oil, according to government documents seen by the
27 June 2014, 15.57
The Guardian "The transport of materials will be done by helicopter and by river." That was what Ecuador's Minister for Strategic Sectors, Rafael Poveda, was quoted as saying, in the May 2014 edition of Eco-Americas, about exploiting the Ishpingo, Tiputini and Tambococha (ITT) oil fields in the Yasuni National Park in the Ecuadorian
05 May 2014, 15.13
The Economist ANGER and frustration boiled over outside Ecuador's National Electoral Commission (CNE) on April 30th, as efforts by environmental activists to prevent oil development in the Yasuní National Park appeared to founder on the decisions of the bureaucrats inside. "The CNE is so transparent that it won't even let us see the names of the persons or their badges," said Pedro Bermeo, one of the activists outside. Last month, a grassroots group of environmentalists called Yasunidos (its name
02 May 2014, 11.32
The Ecologist Deep in Ecuador's Amazon rainforest, a gigantic open pit copper and gold mine is planned in the heart of the Shuar peoples' territory. David Dene tells the story of a growing international campaign to uphold and defend the 'Rights of Nature', in Ecuador and beyond. Planet Earth's ecological systems are under threat. We are altering the fundamental patterns of relationship which have created the planet we live on. Over the last few months I have been asked on numerous occasions how I
02 May 2014, 11.28
The Guardian Civil society groups say enough signatures have been gathered to force a referendum but authorities are interfering Indigenous people, environment groups and others hoping to force a national referendum on whether one of the world's most biodiverse regions should be exploited by oil companies fear that the Ecuadorean government is manipulating the results of a petition in order to support the president. Ecuador's proposal to leave an 846m barrels of oil in the ground under the
30 April 2014, 16.52
www.mongabay.com Environmental activists in Ecuador are accusing the country's National Electoral Council of breaking into sealed boxes to interfere with completed petitions that call for a referendum on oil drilling in the Amazonian region of Yasuní. The environmentalists had spent six months collecting signatures to oppose Rafael Correa's plans to extract oil from the Yasuní-ITT oil field in the eastern portion of the country. The petitions handed to the Council on 12 April included 757,623
19 April 2014, 00.09
The Guardian An alternative summit held during Cop 6 brought the idea of climate justice onto the global stage. How pivotal was this moment for how the climate change movement progressed? Today it is accepted, but 20-30 years ago campaigners were struggling to even get an acknowledgement that climate change was happening, let alone that it was manmade. It would have been hard to imagine that one day we might hold the developed nations responsible and start talking about redress for victims of
15 April 2014, 22.39
Amazon Watch On Saturday, April 12th, something incredibly inspiring happened in Ecuador. Yasunidos or "United for Yasuní," a civil society collective of environmentalists, artists, activists, and indigenous leaders, delivered nearly 800,000 signatures to the National Elections Commission (CBE) calling for a national referendum to decide if oil should remain under Block 43/ITT in Yasuní National Park indefinitely. A couple of months ago collecting over 600,000 signatures, the amount needed to
15 April 2014, 22.29
Environmental News Service In 2007, for the meager sum of US$3.6 billion, Ecuador's President Rafael Correa offered the world a chance to buy into a conservation plan, called the Yasuní-ITT Initiative, to save his country's easternmost sector from oil extraction. The ITT concession area, named for three sites within its boundaries – Ishpingo, Tambococha and Tiputini – makes up about 1/12th of the Yasuní Biosphere Reserve. It represents an opportunity to conserve up to 10 percent of all
14 April 2014, 19.59
Upside Down World I'm in Quito, Ecuador. I wake up nervous at 8 a.m., getting ready to pick up a valuable envelope at the bus station that Cesar, a Yasunidos activist, mailed from Guayaquil, brought by his friend from New York on a plane, a day earlier. I am chatting with Cesar, "Did you send it to my name? Did you send it to the Santa María station?" I knew that if they sent it anywhere else, the signatures of Ecuadorian immigrants in Queens would not make it on time for the official delivery of
13 April 2014, 13.54
BBC NewsEnvironmentalists in Ecuador say they have collected enough signatures to have a referendum on whether the Yasuni National Park in the Amazon should be opened to further oil exploration. They said 727,947 people had signed their petition to have a vote - more than required by Ecuadorian law. President Rafael Correa has promised that any oil earnings from the park would be used for poverty alleviation. But critics say one of the world's most biodiverse areas would be damaged. The
07 April 2014, 10.28
New Internationalist Tim Gee investigates Ecuador's failure to 'keep the oil in the ground', and the activism that could yet secure the future of the national park. A kingfisher flits by, then a heron, an osprey, a flock of parrots. In the branches, one, two, three hoatzins: a bird species that links us to our prehistoric past. The tree-trunks are so wide they exceed the arm span of any human being. The butterflies are bigger than my hand. The bees are the size of dollar coins. This is Yasuní,
04 April 2014, 13.04
Greengrants.org On the Defense Day of Yasuní, March 5, Ecuador's YASunidos movement celebrated this pristine Amazon rainforest by announcing that it had 480,000 signatures to force a national referendum on oil exploitation in one of the most biodiverse rainforests on Earth. The group is confident it will meet its goal of at least 600,000 signatures. On October 3, 2013, the Ecuadorian government and parliament approved the exploitation of the protected area. Denouncing the decision as
29 March 2014, 13.16
Amazon Watch A global call to keep oil in the ground in Yasuni National Park Los Angeles, CA – Amazon Watch and Yasunidos, a campaign comprised of a collective of Ecuadorian and international environmental organizations and advocates, released a new PSA featuring celebrity supporters rising in solidarity with Ecuadorians to defend the controversial Yasuní National Park from oil drilling. The public service announcement, which debuts online today and will appear in Ecuadorian media, features
24 March 2014, 12.35
Mongabay.com We have always been intrigued by the Amazon rainforest with its abundant species richness and untraversed expanses. Despite our extended study of its wildlife, new species such as the olinguito (Bassaricyon neblina), a bear-like carnivore hiding out in the Ecuadorian rainforest, are being identified as recently as last year. In fact, the advent of efficient DNA sequencing and genomic analysis has revolutionized how we think about species diversity. Today, scientists can examine known
20 March 2014, 19.17
The Guardian The document from the Ministry of Economic Policy Co-ordination that shows Ecuador was negotiating a secret $1bn deal with a Chinese bank to drill for oil under the Yasuni national park while pursuing a high-profile scheme to keep the oil under the ground in return for international donations • This document, taken down on 20 February 2014 pending investigation, was restored on 5 March

Documentaries Videos

Documentaries and videos

Message from Dr. Vandana Shiva to the Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa

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I am Yasuní

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Yasuní-ITT. A Post-Oil Initiative

intranet