A ‘win-win-win’ Solution and a New Way Forward? Considering the Yasuní-ITT initiative, Ecuador
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The Yasuní-ITT initiative was proposed in 2007 by President Correa of Ecuador after calls for an oil moratorium by civil society within the country. The initiative proposes the non-extraction of 850 million barrels of oil which was discovered in the ITT oil fields in order to avoid approximately 407 million metric tonnes of carbon emissions (Larrea, 2007) and to protect the most biodiverse place on earth; the Yasuní National Park and the uncontacted indigenous tribes (the Tagaeri and Taromenane) who live there (Rival, 2010). In return, following the theory of ecological debt, Corrrea asked the world to compensate Ecuador for this to the amount of $3.6 billion over 10 years which amounts to half of the potential exploitation revenues of extracting the oil. This money will be put into a trust fund managed jointly by the UNDP and Ecuador and used to finance alternative sources of energy such as hydroelectric and promote sustainable and equitable development in the country (Larrea and Warnars, 2009). The study of alternative mechanisms that seek multiple benefits which are different from those currently in use is of vital importance, as solutions such as PES and REDD are not often as effective as is sometimes claimed, and these ‘win-win’ solutions are becoming more popular as easy fixes while environmental degradation worsens (Arsel and Buscher, 2012). In the context of warnings against the fatal attraction of ‘win-win’ solutions like these (Muradian et al, 2013) this dissertation explores the Yasuní-ITT initiative in terms of it being an example of a genuine ‘win-win-win’ solution in which address issues of climate change mitigation, biodiversity conservation and environmental justice are addressed comprehensively. Through use of a case study approach, the methods of discourse analysis and supporting stakeholder interviews were used to gain a more informed understanding of the initiative in terms of it being different from existing ‘win-win’ solutions and working towards alternative forms of development. The initiative was also evaluated in terms of its potential as a replicable plan for other countries to adopt and to gauge its influence in international climate change debate. This dissertation finds that there are many different interpretations of the Yasuní-ITT initiative, and many contradictions within the initiative which reflect the complexity of such a multi-faceted solution. Whilst the initiative faces major challenges in terms of receiving funding as international co-responsibility with developed countries fails to transpire, this dissertation concludes that perhaps the initiative’s most powerful impact lies in its opening up of climate change debate to allow space for alternative mechanisms in the future that challenge climate change more holistically by focus on the concept of non-extraction of fossil fuels.