An Ecuadorian decision to leave vast amounts of oil in the ground to protect the biodiversity of a national park represents a model of the kind of innovative international partnership that benefits everyone, a senior United Nations official said today.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Associate Administrator Rebeca Grynspan told journalists that the plan would leave 20 per cent of national oil reserves in the ground, thus preserving the Yasuni National Park, a biosphere of enormous value for the world.
It would also protect the life and culture of indigenous peoples living in the park, and avert the emission of 400 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, she said.
The value of the reserve is conservatively estimated at $7.2 billion. Under the proposal, Ecuador would forgo its development in exchange for contributions totalling half that amount from the international community over a period of 13 years.
UNDP would manage an international Trust Fund for that purpose, said Ms. Grynspan, based on an agreement she signed with the Ecuadorian Government last month.
Ms. Grynspan said the fund’s proceeds will be used to change the energy matrix away from fossil fuels, by investing only in renewable energy. They will also be used for social development – the problem of poverty, protecting the indigenous peoples, and promoting human development.
It would also preserve a biosphere of immense human value – where one square hectare of land has more tree species than in the whole of North America.
The fund has been carefully crafted to protect the interest of contributors if a future Ecuadorian Government were to decide to exploit the oil, said Ms. Grynspan.