Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Why Ecuador's president has failed the country over Yasuní-ITT

Alberto Acosta in the "globaldevelopment" blog at the Guardian (UK):  Ecuador has had the opportunity to bring about environmental change, but this has been thwarted. In mid-August, a plan to leave oil in the ground in one part of the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest was dismissed by President Rafael Correa. He argued that the world has failed Ecuador by contributing little of the money the government had hoped to raise, and said the oil revenues would be used to end poverty.

We always knew it would be difficult to cut through the oil interests. Indeed, doubts had been voiced since 2007, when the Yasuní-ITT initiative was proposed. In an economy addicted to black gold, people were baffled by this proposal not to drill for the 850m barrels of heavy oil – 20% of Ecuador's reserves – in Yasuní national park. Crazy though the idea seemed, however, it attracted support and grew stronger.

...The proposal has followed a convoluted path since becoming part of official political discussions. There were steps forward and back, successes and contradictions, approval and controversies. Interestingly, the idea took root even though some people considered it far-fetched. After its official launch, support grew quickly.

Yet plan B – to drill in the park if contributions were not met – has long loomed large, and, after Correa's announcement, the proposal is on the brink of destruction. He blames the international community for not contributing the $350m (£225m) a year required to fund the innovative environmental plan....

A green snake in Yasuni National Park, Ecuador, shot by Geoff Gallice, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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