Ecuador Signs Deal to Protect Amazon From Oil Drilling

The Government of Ecuador and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Tuesday signed a historic deal to leave an estimated 846 million barrels of crude oil untapped beneath Yasuní National Park, a World Biosphere Reserve since 1989.

The agreement–signed on Tuesday by Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño and by Rebeca Grynspan, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNDP Associate Administrator–establishes a trust fund to step up protection of an ecological site in an oil-rich area of the Ecuadorian Amazon.

With the trust fund signed, Ecuador will be seeking contributions from governments to protect Yasuni’s Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini (ITT) fields from drilling. The fund’s objective is to hold at least 50% of the estimated US$7 billion that drilling for the oil would bring.

“We still have to collect the funds for the initiative to become a reality,” said Ecuador’s Vice-President Lenín Moreno who was also present at the signing. “We need industrialized countries to understand, in a spirit of shared responsibility, that what we have decided this historic morning is a sacrifice for our country.”

The Yasuní ITT initiative contributes to the fight against climate change by preventing discharge into the atmosphere of more than 400 million metric tons of carbon, which would result from the burning of fossil fuels if oil were extracted.

Once the fund is capitalized, UNDP will administer it through the specialized services of its Multi-Donor Trust Fund Office which is responsible for more than 30 funds in 74 countries.

The Yasuní National Park is considered one of the most biodiverse places on the planet. It was designated a World Biosphere Reserve in 1989 by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

The park covers 982,000 hectares and is located in the Upper Napo valley in the Western Amazon region of Ecuador.

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