That is a lovely rainforest, you got there — it would be a shame if something happened to it. You know, I could watch it for you... for let’s say $3.6 Billion.
No, it isn’t a remake of The Sopranos, Ecuador edition, it is the terribly sad reality of the Yasuni National Park, in Ecuador and the mobster here is President Rafael Correa. At stake is 4,000 sq. miles of Amazon jungle that has the misfortune to sit atop $20 Billion in oil reserves.
Correa suggested that he would be willing to preserve the rainforest if the world would pay Ecuador $3.6 Billion. Enough to cover the royalties that could be collected (for the benefit of the Ecuadorian people of course)!
This may seem a blatant attempt at eco-extortion but it is in fact the calculus born of a terribly flawed economic system and philosophy. It is practiced around the world and the justifications are more or less the same. If a certain practice, regardless of its ecological or social impact can make enough money the practice can be justified by the number of potential jobs saved or created and taxes generated. Yet the reality is that the economies that rely on extraction of natural resources — oil, gas, and minerals — lag other economies in productivity, political inclusiveness and social stability.
The problem is that we can value oil but we cannot currently value a rainforest, nor the people and wildlife that it houses or the global ecosystem services it provides. We know the price of oil to the penny on any given day. We can raise money on capital markets around the world to “develop” the oil reserves and produce them yet not a nickel to protect the forest. And no one directly pays for the damages; both the more visible, like oil spills, surface and ground water contamination and the less visible, like loss of biodiversity, release of climate altering gases both by destroying the forest in the first place and shipping and burning the oil.
When President Correa announced his decision to allow drilling, he said, “The world has failed us,” “With deep sadness but also with absolute responsibility to our people and history, I have had to take one of the hardest decisions of my government.”
The world didn’t fail. A poorly designed economic system failed Ecuador and the rest of the world and it will continue to do so until we offer a workable solution.
That is why we are building IVE so that there is a financial market to value something as valuable as the Yasuni rainforest and thousands of other precious and productive assets around the world. So the next time a shortsighted and corrupt official makes the choice to sell his people and the world short, we have the tools to fight fire with fire or more accurately, capital with capital.
Without a robust capital market for natural and societal assets, the war on nature and human potential will remain one-sided. The score card in this case: Donations to preserve the Yasuni Nation Park $13 Million, the total needed to stop Chinese Oil development in Yasuni $3.6 Billion, only $3,587,000,000 short.
Next up for the IVE — our proposal to Ecuador, Yasuni National Park, Inc.