Security & Strategic Review - July 2023

ECUADOR: Referendum to decide fate of oil drilling in Yasuní

Whilst it has been largely overshadowed by the general elections that will be held the same day, Ecuador is preparing for a referendum on 20 August which could result in a landmark ban on oil drilling in Yasuní national park, one of the most biodiverse places on Earth. The referendum, for which the environmental NGO Yasunidos has been campaigning for a decade, has been hailed by ecologists as a historic opportunity to protect Yasuní from the risk of devastating oil spills and destructive development. The economic consequences of doing so may be severe, however – according to state oil company Petroecuador, a ban on oil extraction in the national park could cost the state US$16bn over the next 20 years.

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