On August 15, 2013, Ecuador´s President Rafael Correa announced the end of the Yasuni-ITT proposal, an innovative and one of a kind proposal that would keep “oil in the soil” in exchange for financial contributions from the international community to offset a portion of Ecuador´s forgone revenue. In addition, Correa said that the national oil company, PetroAmazonas would move forward with plans to exploit the Ishpingo, Tambococha, and Tiputini oil fields located within the Yasuni National Park.
It was a sad and frustrating day for many Ecuadoreans (polls cite 90% support for the proposal) and for many more people around the world.
The Yasuni-ITT proposal was the result of years of advocacy and mobilization by conservation and indigenous groups to protect the Park. The proposal finally reached approval in 2007 and formal recognition in 2008 through Ecuador’s new Constitution that extended rights to Nature. The initiative consisted of protecting the Yasuni National Park known for being the most biodiverse, ecologically sensitive area in the Amazon and also home to the Tagaeri and Taromenane indigenous peoples, living in voluntary isolation.
Ecuador´s “green” constitution includes the right to nature (article 71). protection of protected areas (art.407), the right to consultation regarding decisions by the state that could affect the environment (art. 308), and recognizes the territories of indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation as intangible --meaning all extractive activities are prohibited -- (art. 57), as the violation of this right means ethnocide.
How did the end of the Yasuni-ITT proposal come about? For Correa, it was simple... “The world has failed us,” he said.
But how far has the current government genuinely been interested in making the proposal work? Oil companies are already operating on the border and inside the park, among these Andes Petroleum, Repsol, Petroamazonas, Chinese company PetroOriental . . .