Ecuador: pay us not to drill for oil in rainforest

Rainforest in the Yasuni National Park, Ecuador

Business Digest: UN’s ‘Amazon bonds’ scheme is meeting with little interest from rich countries

BY Eliot Sefton
LAST UPDATED AT 12:35 ON Thu 5 Aug 2010

Ecuador is asking developed countries to give it $3.6bn in return for leaving an area of pristine rainforest above three oil fields untouched for a decade.

The three oil fields in the Yasuni region of Ecuador are thought to hold 846 million barrels of crude oil. At current prices, this would yield $7bn for the South American republic.

But under a United Nations scheme to persuade resource-rich countries not to drill in environmentally sensitive regions, developed countries are being asked to buy 'Amazon bonds', the proceeds of which will go to the people of Ecuador, administered by the UN.

Although the Amazon bonds scheme would seem a perfect way for developed countries to simultaneously slow down carbon dioxide emissions and boost aid to a poor country, Ecuador's attempts to drum up cash have so far met with little success. Only Germany has so far made a donation: $50m over 12 years. Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Italy and the US have only expressed interest to the UN.

Ecuador will now send delegations to potential donors, including Middle Eastern countries.

Read a full report at the Daily Telegraph.

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.

Read next

Chinese businessman Kenny Huang
Chinese government back Huang’s Liverpool