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If Ecuador must drill for Yasuní oil, let's encourage the least damaging methods

•, Kelly Swing
 Ecuador's president, Rafael Correa, announced earlier this month that he has no choice but to go ahead with drilling operations in one of the planet's most biodiverse region, the Yasuní national park.

Back in 2007, he proposed the Yasuní-ITT initiative, an innovative way to protect this biologically important piece of Amazon rainforest. The plan sought funds to cover a portion of the loss of income associated with not extracting a full 20% of the country's oil reserves, with the understanding that Ecuador, a developing nation with a poor economy, simply cannot afford to leave any of its resources untapped.

To give the plan a fighting chance, Ecuador committed to forego half of the estimated value of the oil in its easternmost concession block if it received a total of US$3.2bn over a period of 13 years. Concerned countries, corporations and citizens were invited to contribute, but six years of campaigning were ineffective in accumulating sufficient funds to offset financial losses, leading to Correa's decision.

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