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Yasuni National Park - ITT oil extraction, Ecuador

Cancelled by the Correa government in 2013, the Yasuni initiative is still one of the most inspiring social proposal to step out from extractivism and a call for the whole world to "yasunize" our territories.


The Yasuni National Park is located between the Provinces of Orellana and Pastaza and it's been declared by UNESCO a World Biosphere Reserve for its biodiversity. It covers a large part of Ecuadorian Amazonia and it is home to one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world, as well as indigenous non-contacted communities. The Park includes in fact the ancestral territory of the indigenous Waorani, Kichwas, Shuar, as well as the Tagaeri, and Taromenane people, who make up the last two known indigenous groups living in voluntary isolation in Ecuador.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Yasuni National Park - ITT oil extraction, Ecuador
State or province:Orellana and Pastaza
Location of conflict:Campos petroleros de Ishpingo-Tiputini-Tambococha
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Specific commodities:Crude oil
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The park is divided into 6 different lots (blocks 14, 15,16,17,31 and ITT) with 8 oil concessions.

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Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:1992
Company names or state enterprises:Perez Companc from Argentina
Petroecuador from Ecuador
Petróleo Brasileiro S.A (PETROBRAS) from Brazil
Royal Dutch Shell (Shell) from Netherlands
Relevant government actors:Ministry for Oil and Mining Ecuador, President Rafael Correa of Ecuador
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Accion Ecologica, Amazonia por la Vida, Oilwatch, ONHAE, Huaorani people, Shuar, Quechua, A Sud and CDCA from Italy
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Informal workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
In 2014, there is still hope of a national referendum in Ecuador against oil drilling in the ITT block of the Yasuni National Park
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Air pollution, Desertification/Drought, Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Noise pollution, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Other Environmental impactsSeismic exploration on 250 000 hectares.
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Deaths
Potential: Malnutrition, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Occupational disease and accidents
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Increase in violence and crime, Specific impacts on women
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Migration/displacement
Strengthening of participation
Fostering a culture of peace
Proposal and development of alternatives:The complete stop of the oil exploration and extraction in the Yasuni National Park, and the restoration of the area. Campaign for way out from extractivism, as the slogan "yasunizar" suggests.
Call for a referendum about the ITT oil exploitation, which was accomplished by the Yasunidos coalition, and the recognition of people's voice.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:While the extraction in Block ITT was stopped by the Ecuadorian government until 2013 only, the other blocks in the Yasuni National Park have continued their activity, affecting and violating human rights of other non-contacted communities.
The popular call for a step out from the national progressive extractivism did not find support from the government.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Decree N202 of 18/05/92

Decree No.522

Decree N 322

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Actividades hidrocarburiferas en areas protegidas. Oilwatch. 2003

Il sangue della terra. Atlante geografico del petrolio. A Sud. Ed. Derive-Approdi. 2006

Atlas amazonico de Ecuador, resistencia y agresiones. Accion Ecologica-CONAIE. 2006

Moratoria a la ampliacion de la frontera petrolera. Oilwatch. 2002

Areas Protegidas Protegidas contra quien?. Oilwatch. 2004
[click to view]

Asalto al paraso. Oilwatch. 2005

Marea Negra en la Amazonia. Autori vari. Ed. Abya-yala. 1995

Conflictos socio-ambientales en el Ecuador. Granda, Alicia. Accion Ecologica. 2001

Lessons not learned. The other shell report. Friends of the earth. 2004
[click to view]

Martin, P.M. (2011) ‘Global Governance from the Amazon: Leaving Oil Underground in Yasuní National Park, Ecuador’, Global Environmental Politics, 11(4), pp. 22-42.

Detras de la cortina de humo. Dinmicas sociales y petroleo en el Ecuador. Bustamante, Teodoro. Ed. Flacso. 2007.

Ejolt Report n. 6, 2013,
[click to view]

Shell: Use Your Profits To Clean Up Your Mess. Friends of the earth. 2007
[click to view]

Yasuni Rainforest Campaign
[click to view]

Amozzonia: Morire di petroleo, CDCA (in Italian)
[click to view]

YASunidos Collective website
[click to view]

La iniciative ITT-Yasuni by Just-Trade & Ecologistas en Accion (in Spanish)
[click to view]

The demise of the Yasuni initiative, Arsel M., Pellegrini, L.
[click to view]

websites of Accion Ecologica and Amazonia por la Vida
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[click to view]

Film by Arturo Hortas, Yasuni ITT: el buen vivir (English subtitles), in EJOLT webpage,

Other comments:Film by Arturo Hortas, Yasuni ITT: el buen vivir (English subtitles), in EJOLT webpage,
Meta information
Contributor:Lucie Greyl & Joan Martinez Alier
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:462
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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