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Ecuadorian Initiative to Protect Climate and Biodiversity

Ecuadorian Initiative to Protect Climate and Biodiversity

TimeLoc
26 May 2011
Berlin
Germany

Dr. Camilla Bausch welcomed the delegation and distinguished guest panelists while Loni Gardner, a Transatlantic Fellow of the Institute, moderated the discussion.  The event provided participants an opportunity to hear about and discuss Ecuador’s proposal to forego a claimed $ 7 bn in oil revenues in an effort to avoid the catastrophic effects of oil extraction on a 200,000 hectare tract of pristine rainforest located within the country’s Yasuni National Park.

Lead by Ecuador’s Ambassador to Germany, his Excellency Jorge Jurado, and Ivonne Baki, who is the country’s top negotiator for the Yasuni-ITT Initiative, a high-level delegation presented an Ecuadorian proposal for the protection of climate and biodiversity at the Ecologic Institute.

Dr. Camilla Bausch welcomed the delegation and distinguished guest panelists while Loni Gardner, a Transatlantic Fellow of the Institute, moderated the discussion.  The event provided participants an opportunity to hear about and discuss Ecuador’s proposal to forego a claimed $ 7 bn in oil revenues in an effort to avoid the catastrophic effects of oil extraction on a 200,000 hectare tract of pristine rainforest located within the country’s Yasuni National Park.

The delegation expressed that commitments by international partners such as Germany are required in order for to make this Initiative a reality.  Guest panelists Parliamentarian Ute Koczy of the Alliance 90/The Greens and Jürgen Maier, Director of the Forum on Environment and Development, provided German perspectives on the Initiative.  Ecuadorian economist Carlos Larrea provided technical details of the proposal.  Bisrat Aklilu, who is the Executive Coordinator of the UNDP Multi Donor Trust Fund Office, explained how his office will administrate the Yasuni-ITT Initiative funds and explained the funding mechanism.

The Yasuni-ITT Initiative proposes to leave an estimated 846 million barrels of oil located beneath the ITT oil fields situated within the park permanently underground.  The oil, should it be extracted and burned, would result in 407 mill. metric tons of CO2 emissions, with associated deforestation claimed to result in an additional 800 mill. metric tons of CO2 emissions.  Forgoing oil extraction of the ITT fields, however, would result in an estimated loss of $7 bn in oil revenues.[1]

The event provided attendees the opportunity to ask questions and discuss Ecuador’s innovative proposal, which seeks $ 3.6 bn in contributions over a 13 year period from international partners and donors.  In exchange, the country will issue guarantee certificates that it will permanently keep the oil beneath the park’s ITT fields underground. In the event the country chooses to develop the ITT oil fields in the future, certificate holders would be reimbursed. 

Mr. Aklilu explained that raised funds will be administered by the UNDP and will be used to capitalize renewable energy projects in Ecuador and to finance reforestation and conservation programs, as well as social development (education, health, training, technical assistance, job creation in sustainable activities and R&D support).  Mr. Larrea added that the country seeks to diversify its energy portfolio through the fund’s investments in renewable energy and put Ecuador on a path towards a sustainable economy. 

Mr. Maier and Ms. Koczy added a German perspective to the discussion.  Ms. Koczy explained that parliament members, who agreed to support the Initiative in 2008, need re-convincing after Germany’s Economic Development and Cooperation Minister rejected funding consideration last fall.  Ms. Koczy believes that overall support remains among parliamentarians, many of whom believe strongly in the Initiative.  Mr. Maier, who supports the resulting conservation and social development effect of the Initiative, felt protection of biodiversity was compelling reason enough to garner international partnerships and contributions.  He would prefer that the Initiative did not link support to foregone oil revenues, a concern raised by other audience members as this might raise claims by other nations who leave oil or coal in the ground. Such claims would be difficult to accommodate.  Other audience members expressed concerns over the reimbursement mechanism, should the country change its mind and develop the ITT oil fields in the future.  In response, Ms. Baki explained that the government’s future ability to extract would require overcoming numerous hurdles, including the fact that over 78% of the population wants this area permanently protected and that two-thirds of Congress would have to approve extraction.  This, on the other hand, raised questions whether the extraction might not be politically impossible anyway – with or without the funding of the international community.

The Yasuni National Park, located at the western edge of the Amazon, and nestled adjacent to the Andes Mountains, boasts incredible plant and animal biodiversity and is claimed to be one of the most biodiverse spot on the planet.  It is also home to hundreds of bird, reptile, and amphibian species, thousands of plant species, and two indigenous tribes who live in voluntary isolation in the park. 

 

 

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[1]For more details see also Gallagher, Kevin.  Paying to keep oil in the ground.  7 August 2009.  The Guardian.co.uk.


Speaker
Carlos Larrea
Jorge Jurado
Jürgen Maier
Ute Koczy
Organizer
Ecoscholars, Germany
Date
26 May 2011
Location
Berlin, Germany
Keywords
Ecuador, CO2, climate, climate protection, biodiversity, Yasuni, Yasuni National Park, Yasuni ITT, Amazon, Andes, oil, oil extra