Project Factsheet
Tools for » Conservation and Sustainable Management of the Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve
Project ID:00067168Description:MDGF-1745-E-ECU Env Climate
MDG Achievement Fund
Start Date *: 2 Oct 2007
MDGF Environ Climate Chg
End Date*: 31 Jan 2012
Country: Ecuador Project Status: Financially Closed
  Participating Organization:   Multiple


The JP was implemented through the leadership of the Ministry of Environment (MoEnv) with the support of six UN agencies who brought their technical and thematic expertise:  UN-Women, UN-Habitat, UNESCO, FAO, WTO and UNDP. The JP focused its efforts at the legal, political and local levels. Firstly, the Programme clarified the legal and institutional frameword for the  Yasuni  Biosphere Reserve (YBR), and for three other biosphere reserves of the country. This work has been boosted by official recognition of the Management Committee (CGRBY) and by the formation of the National Network of Biosphere Reserves.  The YBR is headed by the CGRBY that include YBR community organizations.  A major achievement of the JP was that after more than 10 years of existence, the CGRBY was legally recognized as a governance and consultative body. It includes 120 civil society organizations, including community-based organizations, NGOs, Universities, as well as representatives of Decentralized Local Government and of the central government. The CGRBY has four thematic tables (sustainable livelihoods, physical and territorial planning, Tourism, Control and Oversight) whose function is to collect the point of view of the different actors and join efforts to create synergies, where possible. The recognition on the need to have all the different ethnic groups  participate as key actors of the conservation and management of the YBR has contributed to improving the self-esteem of the indigenous populations, while increasing their autonomy and their empowerment.  In addition, the program generated capacities for the formulation and implementation of public policy through the participation and dialogue with civil society organizations, which translated in a management and coordination model for other biosphere reserves in the country.


Outcome 1:

Conservation policies on natural and cultural heritage and on environmental quality have been integrated into the regional and local investment plans of the local  governments and social organizations that are in the YBR area.

Outcome achievements:

  • A new legal framework for territorial planning of 2010-2011 included new political orientations that affected the objectives of the JP towards supporting the national planning process. More specifically, the JP contributed to the PIA law and strategies to regulate the extractive industries. The JP undertook productive activities and contributed to an improvement of the environmental quality (including air, water and soil). Local and community authorities (kichwa, waorani and shuar) were involved and trained in integral management of the YBR. The JP also developed innovative mechanisms of financial sustainability for the conservation and management of the YBR. The process undertaken between the MoEnv and the CGRBY was participatory and fomented the creation of dialogue with civil society organizations. This is being used as a model for other biosphere reserves in the country. Efforts were undertaken in the Education sector with training on Education for Sustainable Development (EDS) in various schools that included teachers and students, as well as park rangers and local leaders. This was meant to raise awareness at the local level on the importance of the conservation and protection of the natural and cultural heritage of the YBR.


Outcome 2:

The communities and local governments of the YBR implement replicable initiatives for the conservation and sustainable management of natural resources and biodiversity, and environmental quality improvement with a participative, agro-ecological, human rights, cultural and gender focus.

Outcome achievements:

  • A plan of protective measures was developed at the Regional Meeting of specialists on PIA, where the international standards for protection of PIA were disseminated, and the first book written by a waorani was published.  An initiative Yasuni-ITT was important as it led to the decision not to exploit the petroleum resources that are in the YBR. This initiative has collected over USD 108 million. The Joint Programme focused on implementing community-based economic measures to assist the most vulnerable populations and contributed to the achievement of MDG-1 for poverty reduction and gave priority to disadvantaged groups and the rights of the indigenous populations. The Programme implemented a series of inter-connected projects in the YBR with the goal to recover and strengthen the sustainable livelihoods of people living in the Biosphere Reserve and to ensure the conservation and sustainable management of the natural and cultural heritage of the Reserve.  At the community level some 16 food security projects were developed that benefited 100 families, through the development of environmentally sustainable non-wood forestry products. The JP also contributed to having the Savings and loans associations at community level facilitate loans to isolated communities to revitalize the local economy. The JP also supported the existing Solidarity Network for Tourism of the Napo River Banks (REST) and developed a code of conduct for sustainable tourism, while strengthening local capacities and developing productive alliances that generate commercial benefits (such as the Yaku Kawsay museum project). There was also a scholarship system for waorani women that allowed women and their daughters to access formal education at school, college and university level. This has generated a positive change for them, for their families and their communities.


Best practices:

  • Intersectoral work with national and local participants and coordinated by the MoEnv; strengthening and empowering local stakeholders; optimizing and developing capacity building and the search for common interests; usage of a common language that can support the dialogue between the local communities and governmental organizations and stablishment of clear responsibilities and rules that allows for a participatory and inclusive management process, are reported as good practices.  The dual approach of practical field based interventions coupled with support at the political level (review of plans, laws, regulations, codes and other legal tools, how to live in a Biosphere Reserve and practice conservation) was key to reach the objectives of the JP.


Lessons learned:

  • The highly participatory approach taken by the Joint Programme was a result of the following: creation of more awareness, both at the national and local levels, about sustainable livelihoods in a fragile ecosystem like the Reserve; identification of public, private and civil society organizations working in the area and the establishment of a framework of common interest as well as the design of local strategies. Barriers have to be gradually removed to obtain an inter-agency approach. Another lesson was the need to facilitate efficient coordination, maintain fluid communication channels, and ensuring the establishment of a strong M&E system.


More details can be found in the final project report:

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