Unfortunately, six years after the initiative’s launching, it was not able to materialize. The Ecuadorian government alerted the public about the potential fate of the project and considered a Plan B for drilling oil as the initiative did not reach the expected economic goals. Finally, on August 15th, President Rafael Correa abandoned this endeavor claiming the lack of international support. Yasuní ITT raised less than 3% of the $3,6 billion that the project was supposed to receive.
"We all thought that conserving Yasuní was more than conserving a forest, Yasuní was a living space."
On the other hand, although the Ecuadorian government was the protagonist in the final decision about the fate of Yasuní; I also condemn the lack of willingness of the global powers to factually support this project. The proposal was based on the commitment for co-responsibility, a compensation based on the idea of shared responsibility among developed countries, and an innovative action to enforce the principle of "Common but differentiated responsibilities". The lack of action in the north to prevent emissions of greenhouse gases vastly exceeds the capacity of the planet to absorb these gases; however, no efforts have been made that shift sufficiently away from the logic of neoliberal carbon market institutions. As such, the international community had a strong political and economic power to defect themselves from their global responsibility. Yasuní ITT was probably the most emblematic project aiming at effectively tackle climate change. Yasuní represented a benchmark that goes further than the objectives proposed by Kyoto Protocol. This proposal not only provided compensation for carbon emissions absorption; it attempted to prevent them while protecting extensive areas of Amazon forest.
Not everything is lost; Yasuní ITT built a mobilizing hope that brought together citizens and organizations around the country. Now there is a possibility that the ban for oil exploitation in Yasuní goes to national referendum. If that happens, this action will constitute a powerful milestone of change. For the first time in Latin-American history and probably the world, civil society will have to power to deliberate and decide over its natural resources. The Ecuadorian citizens would have the right and the capacity to decide the faith of the country’s oil resources. It is probably the most legitimate and just decision concerning extraction and use on national public goods. I firmly believe that Ecuador must underpin a different paradigm headed by Buen Vivir and demonstrate that social and environmental justice ideas have a place and that they are not just a discursive rupture for political or economic gain.
Beyond national confines, Yasuní’s symbolism cannot disappear instantly. It will always be an ideal of inspiration and reflection, a search for new alternatives to confront social and environmental crises around the world. The importance of global proposals to protect people and the environment and combat climate change is the message to all societies that can carry on radical changes. It has been shown that words are not sufficient. We need social mobilization, together with creative and revolutionary ideals at different levels of action. The challenge is present; it requires an enormous amount of awareness and commitment to question the kind of future we want, a decision to re-valuate what society thinks is worth valuing, so that the spirit Yasuní ITT will not disappear.