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

Authors Rival, L.
Year of Publication 2010
Type of Publication Journal Article
Journal Ecological Economics
Volume 70
Issue 2
Pagination 358-365
Open Access No


This article examines the financial mechanism currently known as the Yasuni-ITT Initiative by which Ecuador would be compensated for not exploiting the reserves of heavy crude lying underneath the Yasuni 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.