Ecuador's Yasuní-ITT Initiative: The old and new values of petroleum


This article examines the financial mechanism, currently known as the Yasuní-ITT Initiative, by which Ecuador would be compensated for not exploiting the reserves of heavy crude lying underneath the Yasuní National Park, a Biosphere Reserve for Humanity located in the Amazon Region. An analysis of the ways in which the proposal is being debated is offered to illustrate the unique problems posed by the incorporation of natural capital in economic decisions. A focus on the creative measurements and calculations offered by a range of social actors highlights the relevance of morally framed evaluations in defining the future economic use of the park. I show how an anthropological perspective may complement ecological economics and various political and economic approaches to development policy, and enrich our understanding of the specific challenges posed by the design of economic instruments for the protection of ecological wealth in Latin American countries poor in financial capital, but rich in biological diversity.


Rival, L. Ecuador’s Yasuní-ITT Initiative: The old and new values of petroleum. Ecological Economics (2010) 70 (2) 358-365. [Special Section: Ecological Distribution Conflicts] [DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2010.09.007]

Published 1 January 2010