Reception for Yasuní-ITT on Guayas Tallship

September 10, 2012

Last Friday, I went together with Jos Cozijnsen ( to a reception for the Yasuíi-ITT Initiative on a Tall ship called Guayas of Ecuador, embarked behind Amsterdam Central Train Station on the IJ. I was invited to attend the reception because of my ongoing interest in, and support for, the Initiative since my master thesis research internship in 2008.

Ecuador is a small, developing country in South America that is rich in biological and cultural diversity. Although it has remained dependent on petroleum exports since the 1970s, it has not enjoyed significant economic growth or diversification or reduction in inequalities. The petroleum industry has also had profound negative environmental, social, and health impacts.[1]

For these reasons, and due to global issues of climate change and biodiversity loss, the government proposes to refrain indefinitely from extracting almost one billion barrels of petroleum from three oil blocks – Ispingo-Tiputini-Timbochacha (ITT) – located in Yasuní National Park (see Figure 1), a proposal referred to as the Yasuní-ITT Initiative. The Yasuní National Park is a biologically diverse hotspot and is home to four Indigenous groups, two of which are living in voluntary isolation. The government is willing to forgo oil extraction in ITT if the international community contributes at least half of the revenues otherwise earned (US$3.6 billion), to be invested in nature conservation, renewable energy, and social development projects.[2]

The Initiative has been a political struggle for Ecuador as the country is being pushed by oil companies to extract ITT and countries seem not to eager to support the Initiative. As such, a new campaign strategy is being developed, through for instance the support of the Guayas Tall ship.

During the reception on the boat, the Ecuadorian ambassador based in the Netherlands spoke enthusiastically about the Initiative and pinpointed the importance to protect this unique biosphere reserve with its inhabitants. Also a Dutch biologist spoke about the Initiative as to give scientific support to the Initiative.

The boat was decorated with many Yasuni pictures and slogans, and even with a giant flag in the top of the mast. All the guests were given a bracelet with the quote ‘Juntos por el Yasuní’ (Together for Yasuní). Furthermore, the guests were requested to fill in a form with regards to information about Yasuní. Food and special ''Yasuní-ITT' drinks were served.

The campaign will continue with this new form as to engage the general public, businesses and NGO’s. The boat travels around Europe as an ambassador for the Yasuní-ITT Initiative.

Later in the evening a great band was playing salsa and we joined on the dance floor with on the background the gleaming Amsterdam’s city lights.

A great inspiring evening!

A short video on Yasuní-ITT


[1] Larrea, C., and L. Warnars, 2009. “Ecuador’s Yasuni-ITT Initiative: Avoiding emissions by keeping petroleum underground”. Energy for Sustainable Development, International Energy Initiative. 13(3): 219-223.

[2] Warnars, L. (2010). “The Yasuni-ITT Initiative: a new model to implement human rights and biological diversity conventions and frameworks?” In: IUCN, Policy Matters, 17, 2010, Exploring the Rights to Diversity in Conservation Law, Policy, and Practice.


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