LatinNews Daily - 03 February 2022

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In brief: Ecuador’s CC bans oil drilling in Yasuní buffer zone

* Ecuador’s constitutional court (CC) has struck down parts of a 2019 decree implemented by the Lenín Moreno administration (2017-2021) that had permitted oil drilling in the buffer zone of the Zona Intangible Tagaeri-Taromenane (ZITT) protected area, which contains the Yasuní national park in the provinces of Pastaza and Orellana. The CC ruled that the oil projects would have violated the principle of non-contact for isolated indigenous peoples, as outlined in Ecuador’s 2008 constitution, and that indigenous communities must be consulted on projects within their territories. Yasuní contains two voluntarily isolated indigenous peoples – the Tagaeri and the Taromenane – and is widely considered to be one of the most biodiverse places on the planet. The ruling will impact the ‘Block 43’ oil well, which is part of the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini (ITT) oil field. Coming as clean-up operations continue following a 28 January oil spill in the Amazonian province of Napo, the court’s decision was welcomed by environmental campaigners, with Kevin Koenig, director of US-based NGO Amazon Watch’s climate and energy programmes, calling it “a reminder for oil companies and investors that expanding oil extraction in Ecuador’s Amazon is a risk and full of potential legal liabilities.” The current government, led by President Guillermo Lasso, aims to double Ecuador’s oil production to 1m barrels per day over the course of his presidency.

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