Photo: Yasuni National Park
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa has announced the end of the Yasuni-ITT initiative, saying the international community “failed” the country by not funding a scheme that would have compensated it for not developing Amazon oil reserves.
“The key factor in this failure is the world’s great hypocrisy,” Correa said in an address to the nation Thursday in which he announced he would seek congressional authorization to develop crude reserves in northeastern Ecuador’s Yasuni national park, declared a biosphere reserve by Unesco.
Correa says developing the ITT crude reserves using “proper techniques” will affect less than 1 percent of the park and provide the nation with $18.29 billion in revenue.
Oil drilling at Yasuni’s Ishpingo, Tambococha and Tiputini areas will be carried with the best technology available to minimize the environmental impact, the president said.
Ecuador launched the project six years ago, touting it as a way to avoid the emission of 407 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
The ITT block is estimated to hold some 920 million barrels of oil. As part of the environmental initiative, Ecuador had aspired to raise some $3.6 billion in compensation from the international community over 12 years.
“We weren’t asking for charity” but for wealthy nations to share responsibility for combating climate change, Correa said in his address.
“Regrettably, we must say that the world has failed us” because only $13.3 million in contributions were deposited in the trust set up for the initiative, he added.
The measure may have been “ahead of its time,” according to Correa, who also said the 2008-2009 global recession was partially to blame for its failure.
But the main reason the plan did not work is that the “logic of power” prevails in the world over the “logic of justice,” the president said, noting that Ecuador needs money to fight poverty and build the infrastructure required for national development.
Therefore, “with deep sadness, but also with absolute responsibility toward our people and history, I’ve had to make one of the most difficult decisions of my entire government,” Correa said, adding that on Thursday he signed an executive decree liquidating the Yasuni-ITT trust fund.