The Yasuní national park in Ecuador is a pristine area of Amazon rainforest. It is a place of unparalleled beauty, biodiversity, ecological and cultural importance, and is home to many groups of indigenous people, some of whom have chosen to live in isolation from the rest of the world.
It, and the lives of the people who live there, are currently threatened with destruction in order to extract half a billion barrels of oil. This must not happen. For the sake of Yasuní's people, and the global climate that we all rely on, the oil must stay in the ground.
The President of Ecuador has appealed to the international community to help save Yasuní but his proposal - that rich countries pay Ecuador $350m per annum over ten years not to exploit the oil - has failed to take off. This is due to both the lack of clarity from the Ecuadorian government and the lack of support from rich countries.
Although the proposal is visionary in recognizing that northern countries have an obligation to help southern countries mitigate climate change, it has significant flaws: it does not protect the rights of the forest's indigenous inhabitants, leaves Yasuní vulnerable to future oil exploitation, and risks turning it into a giant carbon offset, sold to the highest paying polluter.
If this proposal is improved, Yasuní could set a new precedent for climate justice. It could provide a model for how the rich world can fulfil its existing obligations to help countries in the global South preserve their environmental and cultural treasures and make the transition to a low carbon economy, in partnership with local communities.
Action to save Yasuní is needed now!
- An unconditional, non-reversible commitment from the Ecuadorian government to preserve Yasuní and protect the human rights of its people.
- An unlimited extension of the time given to reach agreement on how to do this.
- An international process led by the Ecuadorian Government, with full participation from local and indigenous groups in the region, to create a clear, coherent and fully representative proposal for securing a long-term sustainable future for Yasuní. This process should seek to work in partnership with supportive NGOs and governments.
- An assurance that any financial support from governments will come through an open, democratic and accountable process, and will not involve carbon trading, World Bank funding or debt cancellation schemes, which have proved ineffective in reducing CO2 emissions and damaging to local peoples' rights around the world.
- An assurance that any other projects which may have a negative impact on the area will not be allowed to go ahead.