NPR had an interesting piece on Monday called Ecuador To World: Pay Up To Save The Rainforest. World To Ecuador: Meh.
In an offer that sounds a bit like blackmail, the Ecuadorian government offered to keep the Amazon free of oil drilling as long as others paid them $3.6 billion, or half of the estimated oil in the region.
Ivonne A-Baki, a government official, traveled the world asking for help. As she put it, “Even the sound of the motor will destroy the fragility of this place.” And as NPR put it, “pay us or we’ll shoot the trees.”
The government did manage to raise $6.5 million, but this was obviously far short of the amount they wanted. While I wouldn’t have expected this to work, it is an interesting idea to find out who values the resources the most. President Correa recently put an end to the idea, calling it “one of the hardest decisions of his presidency.” (I wonder what happens to the $6.5 million)
Correa is a Ph.D. economist and has a good idea of the costs and benefits of environmental protection in a poor country. In a recent TV address, he asked the country: “Do we protect 100 percent of the Yasuní and have no resources to meet the urgent needs of our people, or do we save 99 percent of it and have $18 billion to fight poverty?”