International Payment for Forest Conservation. Special Case: Compensation for Leaving the oil in the Ground in Yasuní National Park, Ecuador

FNI Report 2/2008. Lysaker, FNI, 2008, 42 p.

This report evaluates the Ecuadorian proposal to have the international community compensate Ecuador for not exploiting the oil in the ITT area of Yasuní National Park. It includes the evaluation of this proposal in a broader context, assessing the possible consequences of the arrangement for future systems for international payment for biodiversity/rainforest conservation or payment for other ecosystem services as outlined in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Recently, the debate about international funding of rainforest conservation and payment for ecosystem services in general has received new momentum thanks to the climate change negotiations. Although the debate goes back several decades, the content has now been broadened to include at least five major concerns: carbon sequestration and uptake, biodiversity conservation, maintenance and balance of other ecosystem services, safeguarding the livelihoods of local and indigenous people, and adaptation to climate change. 
This report examines the various past and current efforts relating to the question of international payment for forest conservation, linking it to the international obligations of developed countries to support global environmental goals in developing countries. The Yasuní case raises several questions that are also relevant to the Norwegian Bali initiative to contribute NOK 3 billion annually over five years for forest conservation. A central question is how these (new) flows of funding should be organized in order to achieve the relevant internationally agreed objectives emanating from multilateral environmental agreements. Here we discuss the role of the GEF, with its implementing agencies the World Bank, UNDP and UNEP. We tie the discussion to the obligations that developed countries have undertaken to support the implementation of global environmental goals in developing countries as emanating from the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), as well as obligations pertaining to indigenous peoples’ rights under the CBD and the ILO Convention.