The demise of a new conservation and development policy? Exploring the tensions of the Yasuní ITT initiative

Lorenzo Pellegrini*, Murat Arsel, Fander Falconí, Roldan Muradian

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


The Yasuní ITT is known as a government-led proposal to ban oil exploration and extraction activities within an Ecuadorian National Park and to obtain financial resources from the international community to compensate (partially) forgone oil revenues. The initiative brought into focus and tried to solve a classic dilemma: conventional policy options would imply either that Ecuador forgoes large revenues, or that the world loses a natural and cultural patrimony irreversibly. The ground-breaking significance of the initiative is reflected by the attention and endorsements received at the national and international level. However, attention and endorsements have been accompanied by a difficult process of implementation and eventually the (temporary?) termination-in mid-2013-of the initiative. In this paper we analyze the numerous tensions that have characterized the development of the proposal and can help explain the imbroglio. The aim of this paper is to highlight and contextualize these tensions that reside in specific features of the socio-political configuration of the state-society relationship in Ecuador and the position of the country in the international arena, in the very novelty of the initiative and the misfit with the existing global environmental policy frameworks. We argue that the demise of the initiative depends to a large extent on the inability of policy makers to identify and resolve these tensions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)284-291
Number of pages8
JournalThe Extractive Industries and Society: an International Journal (print)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The support of the Conflict and Cooperation over Natural Resources in Developing Countries (CoCooN) programme and of the Visitors Travel Grant programme of The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) are gratefully acknowledged.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014.

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