UN Secretary-General and others join Ecuadorian President in support of initiative to protect Yasuní National Park in Ecuador

23 Sep 2011
UN Secretary-General and others join Ecuadorian President in support of initiative to protect Yasuní National Park in Ecuador

New York - A growing number of countries, regions and individuals showed their support for a novel initiative that would assist Ecuador’s efforts to address sustainable development and climate change by protecting the people, animals and plants living in Yasuní National Park from oil drilling and deforestation, at a high-level meeting co-hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa Delgado today.

As of mid-September, the Yasuní ITT Trust Fund, managed by the United Nations Development Programme, had received around US$ 1.6 million. During the meeting, the Yasuní ITT Fund received commitments of about US$ 55 million from the Governments of Italy, Colombia, Peru and Turkey and the sub-national regions of Wallonia (Belgium), and Rhone Alpes and Meurthe-et-Moselle (France) and the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF). In addition, “Donate to Yasuní,” a recently established online donation option, received contributions from more than 250 individuals, including one person who donated their annual income. The Yasuní Initiative has also led to the establishment of Yasuní support groups in France, Japan, Germany and Belgium, among others.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “It is not often that a government chooses sustainable development over easy money. Yet that is what we are seeing – that and so much more. The initiative is helping Ecuador move on multiple fronts towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. It is supporting indigenous livelihoods and culture. It is protecting biodiversity. It will help to avoid emissions of greenhouse gases. And it is showing the contribution that can be made through an innovative financial mechanism.”

The Yasuní Initiative invites the global community to offset the lost economic benefits that Ecuador would forgo by not exploiting proven oil reserves in Yasuní National Park, and instead, ensure the preservation of Yasuní. The Initiative’s goal is to keep an estimated $7.2 billion worth of crude oil located in the park’s Ishpingo Tambococha Tiputini (ITT) field in the ground by securing contributions of at least half the revenue that Ecuador would earn by extracting oil.

“We count on your commitment to this Initiative as a sign of your support and your continued dedication to reach international development objectives,” said Rafael Correa Delgado, President of the Republic of Ecuador, “among them, the Millennium Development Goals, which the Yasuní Initiative proposes to advance through an objective and pragmatic approach.”

Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, President of the UN General Assembly, and Bo Derek, actress, spoke at the event along with a wide range of representatives from UN Member States and national regions, as well as private sector representatives and individuals.

Covering more than 1 million hectares (nearly 2.5 million acres) of primary tropical rainforest, Yasuní National Park is an area of extreme biodiversity. One hectare in Yasuní contains more tree species than are native to the whole of North America. Yasuní is located at the intersection of the Amazon, the Andean Mountains and the Equator, where South America’s amphibian, bird, mammal and vascular plant diversity all reach their maximum levels.

The Yasuní area is home to two indigenous cultures living in voluntary isolation – the Tagaeri and Taromenane, both belonging to the Waorani ethnicity. A number of other indigenous groups, such as the Kichwa and Naporuna, also live in the area. Oil and logging industries in neighbouring regions have had a major impact on the indigenous people, leaving the Yasuní as their last refuge.

Four representatives of indigenous groups attended: Manuela Ima, leader of the Waorani women and representative of civil society to the Steering Committe of the Yasuní Trust Fund; Giovanny Ribadeneira, leader of the Quichua Anango community and deputy representative to the Steering Committee; Moi Emonenga, from the Waorani people and winner of the Buffet Award 2011 for his leadership in nature and sustainable conservancy; and Pedro Enqueri, President of the Nacionalidad Waorani del Ecuador,.

In addition, President Correa was accompanied by eight Ministers and Secretaries of State including: Ricardo Patino, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Maria Fernanda Espinosa, Coordinating Ministers of Production and Heritage; Rene Ramirez, Secretariat of National Planning; Betty Tola National Secretariat for Migrants; and Ivonne Baki, Plenipotentiary Representative of the Yasuní Initiative. 

To see a broadcast of the event, please visit http://www.unmultimedia.org/tv/webcast/2011/09/high-level-meeting-on-the-yasuni-itt-initiative.html

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