Whose Values or Valuable for Whom? Biodiversity as Global Commons and the Politics of the Yasuni-ITT Initiative

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"The notion of value is inherent to human society. Even though consciously or unconsciously values are assigned to most objects around us, the debate of what should be valued and based on what grounds re-emerges with regards to ecosystems, biodiversity and related ecosystem goods and services. Ecuador’s Amazon region harbors astounding biodiversity richness in its rainforests. This is especially true for the Yasuni National Park, a UNESCO world biosphere reserve. However, oil exploration is eating into the remaining undamaged areas of the park, with consequences reaching far beyond the risks of pollution and disturbance to the ecosystem and its inhabitants. This paper discusses different perceptions of values with regards to the Ecuadorian Yasuni-ITT initiative and relates those to the technical proposal that puts forward to forego oil exploration, based on the condition that Ecuador will be compensated with at least half of the expected revenues. Assuming that the Yasuni National Park and its biodiversity represent a global commons, this paper will examine the theoretical motivation and reasoning of the ambiguous but innovative proposal put forward by the Ecuadorian government. It is argued that instead of focusing purely on the prevented carbon dioxide emissions that are currently at the focus of the initiative, the center of attention should be the significant biodiversity richness and the ecosystem services the area provides not only for the region, but for the entire world."



oil industry, biodiversity