Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The battle begins again: The fight to protect Yasuni National Park

Yasuni National Park

Yasuni National Park in Ecuador is arguably the most biologically diverse area in the world. Scientists have documents over 596 different species of birds, just in that one corner of the Amazon rainforest. There are 150 amphibians, a world record for an area this size. In fact, they go on to say that "there are more species of frogs and toads within Yasuni (an area approximately 9,820 square kilometers) than are native in the United States and Canada combined".

It also houses approximately 800 million barrels of crude oil, some 20 per cent of Ecuador's reserves. In 2010, scientists and environmentalists urged President Rafael Correa to leave the 800 million barrels untouched and the Yasuni Ishpingo Tambococha Tiputini (Yasuni ITT) Initiatve was launched. 

The deal was that in exchange for the government's indefinite restrain from exploiting the oil reserve in the park, the international community would provide 50 percent of the value of the reserves, or some $3.6billion over the 13 year period of the initiative. The aim was to conserve biodiversity, protect indigenous peoples living in volutnary isolation and avoid the release of 407 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In addition it would save 800 million metric tonnes of emissions from the avoided deforestation.

Broken promises

Then on Thursday, 15 August 2013, a mere six years after the Yasuni-ITT Initiative was launched, President Correa in a nationwide address on radio and television explained the initiative had only attracted investment of US$13.3million, instead of the US$3.6billion Ecuador needs to compensate for lost oil revenues.

In his address, President Correa said, "I think the initiative was ahead of the times, and could not or would not be understood by those responsible for climate change."

"Unfortunately, we have to say that the world has failed us," said the President, adding that the launch of the initiative coincided with the worst global economic crisis in 80 years.

This speech was, interestingly portended by Alberto Acosta, Ecuador's former energy minister who unsuccessfully ran against Correa in February. "If Correa wins, the ITT initiative will be dropped. The infrastructure is already in place to exploit the oil," warned Acosta in a campaign speech. "He's preparing to blame rich nations for not giving enough to make it work." Oil companies including PetroEcuador are preparing to drill and roads are being built on the margins of the formerly protected area - in known jaguar habitat.
The problem for President Correa is that his move is in breach of the Ecuadorian Constitution, enacted in 2008 to recognise the inalienable rights of ecosystems to exist and flourish, which gives people the authority to petition on behalf of ecosystems and requires government to remedy violations of these rights. 

All hope is therefore not yet lost. With rights of nature protected unequivocally in the Ecuadorian Constitution, it is now up to the Ecuadorian people, with the support of the global community to use every legal means to fit the oil drilling in Yasuni National Park.

What you can do:

Write a Letter to President Correa.

Sign the petition in support of the Huaorani.

Share this video to drive home the message of why it's important to act - no matter where you are in the world.

Spread the word through every network you have available! In the age of social media, we can be heard far and wide. Make what you say count on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube (wherever!).

Leonardo DiCaprio, Edward Norton and Al Gore were part of the initial campaign, and now you have the opportunity to add your voice to the chorus to save Yasuni.

If you share in the comments below I'll do my best to share it on Twitter too.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Once Upon A Time....

....in a land far, far away, there lived a little girl who loved nothing more than reading fairytales where charming princes and beautiful princesses triumphed over evil just in time to live happily ever after.

Many years later, grown up and now living in Reality, the girl never quite stopped believing in fairytales. In fact, she even started writing her own stories. Hence the alias "MyGlassSlippers".

You see, she thought Cinderella was by far the most pragmatic of fairytale heroines. Cinderella never ran away from home to live with seven strange men, hoping to one day, she would somehow meet Prince Charming and she certainly never slept through the story, waiting for Prince Charming to come find her!

Cinderella might have had her Fairy Godmother magic up a dress and help her get to the ball, but she grabbed an introduction with the Prince and cut out at exactly the right time, all by herself, even leaving an enigmatic clue for the Prince to follow: a single, glass slipper.

Fragile, delicate and yet functional.

It has come to symbolise that dreams can come true, that no matter how fragile or delicate they are, holding on to them and following them can lead you to true, everlasting happiness.

So that's the story behind "MyGlassSlippers" and my blog "Confessions of a Green Queen". You see, of course I was that little girl.

And I did grow up. I became a lawyer and I continued to write stories, but like all fairytale heroines at the beginning of their tale, I felt there was something missing.

Then one day I found the glass slipper that I had been looking for...and began this blog.

It stems from my unwavering belief in our ability to create a sustainable economically prosperous world without destroying the ecosystem that sustains all life on Earth. 

After all, the Earth is very much like Cinderella's glass slipper. It is fragile and delicate, and if we lose our grasp on it, it will shatter and there will be no following it to our own Happily Ever After.