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Sustainable development needs more than just green economy: Ecuador minister

"We should recognize both nature’s rights and limits as crucial elements for the development of any country."
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Ecuador - Sustainable development in Ecuador should consider climate-change mitigation measures and capacity building of local communities in addition to a green economy, the Ecuador deputy environment minister told CIFOR.

“A green economy is not an alternative to sustainable development and has not yet provided the expected results,” said Ecuador Deputy Environment Minister Mercy Borbor Cordova.

“Developing countries should have access to new technologies beyond productivity and economic growth purposes.”

Borbor referred to Ecuador’s unique “Net Avoided Emissions” scheme, which is being promoted at international forums. The scheme has countries compensating Ecuador’s natural resources industry for limiting its release of emissions into the atmosphere.

The Yasuni-iTT initiative, for example, is central to the scheme and targets the protection of one of the world’s most megadiverse forests and the home to the Waorani Indigenous group.

Ecuador proposed Yasuni-ITT to the UN General Assembly in 2007. The mechanism receives payments from national and international sources for leaving the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini (ITT) oil resources – located in the Yasuni National Park – untouched.

In 2011, the Ecuadorian government announced it had reached its goal of US$100 million during the first year of fundraising for Yasuni-ITT. It is still looking to achieve $US300 million by the end of the third year.

Borbor also said it was important to build economic mechanisms to assist communities and Indigenous groups access alternatives that would allow them to use their natural resources in sustainable ways.

Ecuador is proposing other alternatives at the international level. The Daily-Correa Tax Scheme, for example, taxes countries using oil fuel. The tax is to be used in conservation and social inclusion programs such as for training communities in forest management or in climate-change mitigation technology transfers from developed to developing countries.

Borbor said that deforestation prevention measures should also work to provide communities with the opportunity to better manage forests.

“In Ecuador we see the effort to avoid deforestation as an opportunity for communities to develop their capacities and learn how to manage their forests. We don’t do this with an economic purpose,” she said.  “[We want to] achieve sustainability through a commitment and learning from the communities that own the resources. They are the owners, and it is a shared responsibility of the state and the society that they have the capacity and resources to protect their forests and generate their own livelihoods.”

Ecuador will head to Rio+20, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, in June with these proposals, which are part set of the Net Avoided Emissions scheme proposals that aim to reduce emissions, conserve biodiversity and reduce the impacts from deforestation and oil extraction activities, among others, in forests and other important ecosystems, Borbor said.

“We should recognize both nature’s rights and limits as crucial elements for the development of any country. Once we find its limits, we can define how to better manage them.”

She also called on the international community to meet commitments before forming new objectives.

“Twenty years have passed since the establishment of Agenda 21, [an initiative of the United Nations regarding sustainable development,]” she said. “We cannot acquire new commitments when we still have several others that have not been accomplished.”

Ahead of the event, the minister asked developed countries to better contribute to protect the environment.

“We think developed countries should help more, because they are the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, contributing to climate change,” she said.

“They should give more, not only to Yasuni ITT, but in general, to help developing countries with aspects such as technology transfer and training that will allow developing countries to engage in sustainable development and climate change issues,” said Borbor.

To ensure that Rio+20 delivers a global message that forests matter to sustainable development, CIFOR will coordinate one of the most important conferences on forests on 19 June, 2012. Forests: The 8th Roundtable at Rio+20 will discuss new research findings, remaining knowledge gaps and policy implications for integrating forests into the solutions to four key challenges to progress toward a green economy: energy, food and income, water, and climate. Seats are limited so register here to avoid disappointment! 

 

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Topic(s) :   Climate talks