The Yasuni Initiative:
Ecuador wants us to view a national resource as a global treasure, and are asking for money to preserve it.
The Yasuni initiative is a proposal presented by the Government of Ecuador, based on the commitment to keep large oil reserves underground indefinitely in the Yasuni National Park, located in the heart of the Amazon rainforest.
The Yasuni Initiative will stop 407 million tones of CO2 emissions by keeping oil reserves unexploited. This is the equivalent of the annual total CO2 emissions of Brazil and France.
Yasuni National Park is considered to be the most biodiverse place on the planet. It was designated by UNESCO as a World Biosphere Reserve in 1989. It is one of the least explored, untainted areas of virgin rainforest still remaining in the Amazon Basin. It covers 928,000 hectares which is equivalent to the size of Lebanon.
Yasuni Park is located in the intersection of the Amazon, the Andean Mountains and the Equator, where South American`s amphibian, birds, mammals and vascular plant diversity all reach their maximum levels. One single hectare in Yasuni contains more than 655 tree species, (a greater amount than in the whole of North America) and an estimated 100,000 insect species (the highest concentration on the planet).
The Yasuni area is also home to two indigenous cultures living in voluntary isolation – the Tagaeri and Taromenane, both part of the Waorani ethnicity. This isolation allows them to retain their culture, beliefs and their symbiotic relation to the jungle in a way that is truly unique and precious in a world of globalisation. The impact of oil and logging industries in neighboring regions has decimated not only the environment but the indigenous Amazonic communities and their cultures. Yasuni remains one of the last bastions for preserving life in a pure untouched state.
In order to accomplish its objectives, Ecuador is seeking support for Yasuni from governments, foundations, the private sector and the public at large. The Yasuni Trust Fund was established by the Government of Ecuador and the United Nations Development Programme UNDP on August 3rd 2010. This Trust Fund will serve as a mechanism to channel contributions from the international community and ensure that the funds are used effectively and transparently for the sustainable development activities proposed by the Initiative: preventing deforestation and conserving ecosystems; water management in the Amazon basin and appropriate management of one million hectares of forest, as well as support future research, science, technology and innovation.
So far, Yasuni Initiative has received contributions from countries such as Chile, Colombia, Peru, Spain, and from many enterprises, foundations and individuals. The target for Yasuni contribution is 100 million US dollars. At this point in time over half the money has been pledged, but the clock is ticking as oil reserves dry up elsewhere.
Destruction of forest and the environment is a global problem. The idea that the developed world can help preserve what is left through financial contributions to the developing world (countries such as Ecuador) is an untested concept, however, the Yasuni Initiative is showing signs that this could be a viable solution to the continually mounting environmental problems the world is facing.
For further information or contributions contact: www.yasuni-itt.gov.ec
The Yasuni National Park of Ecuador is among the most biodiverse regions on earth, including two indigenous cultures.
Manuela Fernandez de Cordova (pictured left) is the Third Secretary for the Ecuadorian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Commerce