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In response to President Rafael Correa’s decision to terminate the historic Yasuní-ITT
initiative, an innovative plan to preserve the world’s most biodiverse rainforest in
the Yasuní National Park, hundreds of Ecuadorians have taken to the streets to protest
and are preparing a national referendum to reverse this decision.
The ground-breaking initiative launched in 2007 would keep some 920 million barrels
of oil underneath the park permanently in the ground in exchange for financial contributions
from the international community. The plan would also keep an estimated 410 million
tons of CO2 – the major greenhouse gas driving climate change – from reaching the
But Correa, citing the proposal’s lack of contributions, signed a decree to liquidate
the UNDP trust fund, and declared drilling in the national interest, a designation that
sets in motion final approval from Congress to pursue drilling.
However, recent polls show that 90% of Ecuadorians support the Yasuní-ITT initiative,
and at protests across the country they have begun to gather signatures for a national
referendum that could reverse the president’s decision to allow drilling in this part
of the park.
The park is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and contains what are thought to be the greatest
number of tree and insect species anywhere on the planet. In just 2.5 acres of the park,
there are as many tree species as in all of the U.S. and Canada combined. The area is
also home to the Waorani indigenous people, and two nomadic Waorani clans –
the Tagaeri and Taromenane – who live in voluntary isolation. Attempts to drill the
ITT fields would put their lives and livelihoods at risk.
Stay tuned for more information and ways to get involved! In the meantime, check out:
Ecuador Program Coordinator