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Keywords:

  • Amazon;
  • climate change;
  • Ecuador;
  • oil development;
  • Yasuní National Park;
  • Waorani

ABSTRACT

Oil and gas concessions now cover vast swaths of the western Amazon, including protected areas and indigenous territories. The Yasuní-ITT Initiative, Ecuador's innovative proposal to leave nearly a billion barrels of oil locked beneath Yasuní National Park, is the first major effort to reverse this trend. We provide a concise overview of the initiative, including an in-depth look at its widely lauded goals of protecting biodiversity, respecting indigenous peoples' territory, and combating climate change. We also discuss the proposal's lingering caveats, such as technical questions regarding the generation of financial resources to replace the forgone oil revenue. We conclude that the Yasuní-ITT Initiative is a potentially precedent-setting advance towards avoiding damaging oil and gas development in sensitive areas.