New Internationalist

Urgent: Yasuní’s future hangs by a thread. Take action now!

When I was at the climate talks in Copenhagen, I noticed that the Yasuní initiative (encouraging the international community to pay Ecuador not to exploit a huge reserve of oil, and instead use the money to make the transition to a low carbon model of development) had a stall inside the Bella Centre. Having recently interviewed Yolanda Kakabadse about the progress they were making in garnering enough international support to get the project off the ground, I was keen to find out the latest.

I wandered over, to discover that they were very excited. A major player - UNDP - had come on board. They were going to officially announce this partnership, which would set up the trust fund needed to administer any finance flowing towards the initiative, towards the end of the summit. Unfortunately, in the chaos that ensued in Copenhagen, I missed the actual press conference.

So I was shocked to receive, out of the blue, an email last week informing me that Ecuador's President Correa had seemingly pulled the plug on the initiative. During Copenhagen, it seems he moved to block the agreement with UNDP. This forced most of those working on the Yasuní initiative to resign - including Yolanda and Ecuador's foreign minister. Correa has now said the oil exploration will begin in the Yasuní National Park in June.

So, once again, the future of the most biodiverse place on the planet, home to many indigenous peoples, hangs in the balance. But it's not too late. NGOs and community groups in Ecuador are calling for people to email Correa and others in the Ecuadorian Government, in a last-ditch attempt to save Yasuní from destruction. I copy below a message from the SOS Yasuní campaign which gives a bit more info, and email addresses you can write to.

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Friends:

For almost three years we have kept alive the proposal to keep the oil underground in the ITT block of Yasuní National Park in Ecuador. 

International support has been impressive. However, we are now in a high-risk stage.

The initiative to keep the oil underground needed a trust-fund as a tool to, amongst other things:
    1.Guarantee the use of the money according to environmental principles
    2.Guarantee that future governments don't  exploit these fields
    3.Keep the proposal outside the carbon trade mechanisms

Now the government is threatening to begin the oil exploitation of the ITT block in June, despite of violating more than 20 articles of the Ecuadorian Constitution, among them:
    Article 407 which prohibits oil related activities in protected areas
    Article 57 which protects indigenous peoples in voluntary isolation
    Article 414 which imposes the obligation to promote protection measures to face climate change
Also, local organisations and communities have opposed these oil operations.

Finally, the international and national community backs this initiative of non-exploitation of the oil in Yasuní and there have been many offers of economic contributions by governments, institutions and persons.

If this initiative fails it is not because of lack of support, it will be because of the lack of political willingness of the Ecuadorian government.

What can we do now? What do we have to do now?

Prevent the exploitation of Yasuní with our own efforts.
Yasuní must live, it is our paradise!!

If you want to express your opinion here you will find some useful e-mail addresses to which you can write
(please don't forget to send us a copy to info@amazoniaporlavida.org so we can also deliver a hard copy of your letter to the presidents office)

Presidency of Ecuador
Rafael Correa
rafael.correa@presidencia.gov.ec

Constitutional Tribunal
Patricio Pazmiño
ppazmino@cce.gov.ec

National Assembly
Fernando Cordero
President of the Assembly
fernando.cordero@asambleanacional.gov.ec

National Assembly
Biodiversity and Natural Resources Commission
comision6@asambleanacional.gov.ec

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