Tag Archives: Rights of Nature

A Silent Ecocide

Gustavo. Photo courtesy of Samuel Remerand. Evolve to Ecology.

Gustavo. Photo courtesy of Samuel Remerand. Evolve to Ecology.

While many are quite understandably distracted by the war and genocide unfolding in Gaza and the Ukraine, the rainforest of Ecuador is quietly being destroyed on an epic scale.

Petroamazonas, a national Oil Company is now responsible for one of the largest terrestrial oil spill’s that has just taken place in one of the world’s most biodiverse hotspots, over 600,000 barrels of crude oil have contaminated several rivers in the Amazon, rivers that four indigenous tribes depend upon for fishing, bathing and drinking. Some of these communities are still recovering from the Chevron oil spill twenty years ago. Now, the crude oil has reached Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve and three weeks later, no action has been taken by the Ecuadorian environmental ministry.

In 2008, Ecuador became the first country to include Rights for Nature in it’s Constitution, however this been completely ignored and despite the attempts of Yasunidos.org and international environmental activists uniting to request a referendum several months back, the result was that the Ecuadorian government denied the request after tampering and destroying 800,000 signature petitions that were collected, the international request was simply ignored and drilling commenced earlier this June in Yasuni National Park.

President Correa made false promises several years ago to keep the oil in the soil for an impossible sum of money from the international community, however the Ecuadorian government had at the same time promised China access to oil under Yasuni national park.

Indigenous groups in Ecuador have been recognized under the United Nations to which there exists a non-binding agreement, which gives indigenous groups in Ecuador the chance to defend their lives, land, and culture. Guaranteed throughout the Declaration is the right to a process of “Free, Prior and Informed Consent” for indigenous peoples when faced with decisions, projects, or legislation that may affect their people and/or territory. ¬†Article 57, point 7 of the 2008 Constitution of Ecuador guarantees free, prior and informed consultation, within a reasonable period; however, this does not require consent (and is not binding). Article 82 refers explicitly to environmental consultation, in the case of a state decision which might affect the environment, and specifies broad and timely information for those affected. However, even if there is a majority opposing the project in question, it may still be carried out on the condition that the impact on those affected and the ecosystem is minimised (art. 83 see this link for further details on the Ecuadorian Constitution)

It has only been a short time that drilling has commenced and already we are looking at large scale irreversible ecocide which is likely to get far worse if the international communities do not intervene now. To add further concern to this horror, there are several uncontacted tribes in Yasuni National Park that are extremely vulnerable to disease upon contact and traumatic displacement upon invasion of their territories by Oil companies. Scientists have estimated there is only twenty years supply of oil left under the soil in Ecuador. Therefore, we need to be looking at sustainable solutions in place of short-term gain that will create long-term impact of environmental devastation and possible economic collapse when the oil has gone.

By Evolve to Ecology.
www.evolvetoecology.com

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