Former Utne Reader senior editor Keith Goetzman on environmental issues from climate change to composting.
Ecuador has struck a historic agreement to leave one-fifth of its oil reserves untapped forever. The move protects a marvelously rich area of the Amazon rainforest and will net Ecuador $3.6 billion in compensation—half the oil’s estimated value at today’s market rates—from a United Nations trust fund supported by developed countries.
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Before U.N. conspiracy theorists get all worked up about this, they should keep in mind that the fund, run by the United Nations Development Program, is a voluntary endeavor in which “donor countries, philanthropists and individuals around the world are being invited to pay the money in return for a non-exploitation guarantee,” reports Britain’s Guardian. So far, Germany has indicated it will pay $800 million over 13 years, while Spain, France, and Switzerland are considering chipping in. Writes the Guardian:
Of course, the recent unrest in Ecuador, including an incident that President Rafael Correa described as a coup attempt, doesn’t bode well for these sorts of deals—if Correa were unseated by hostile forces, would his successor honor the no-drilling pact? Join a debate at United Nations University about the pros and cons of this new approach to conservation.