Ecuador Announces End to New Oil and Mining Concessions

Decision is major victory for Indigenous peoples and the climate

Amazon Watch

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In a meeting last week with the country's Indigenous movement, President Lenin Moreno of Ecuador announced an end to all new oil and mining concessions without prior consultation of the local communities in accordance with the country's constitution. The surprise decision came after nearly 10,000 Indigenous people marched for two weeks and over 200 miles from the Amazon rainforest to Quito, where they rallied in front of the Presidential Palace and demanded a meeting.

Indigenous leaders succeeded in meeting with President Moreno last Monday. In addition to the oil and mining moratorium, they reached other important agreements on issues such as amnesty and pardons for Indigenous peoples facing criminal prosecution during 2015 protests and bilingual education, among others. The specific details of the agreement on a moratorium on oil and mining concessions will be negotiated in working groups in the context of a continuing dialogue between Indigenous organizations and the government.

Amazon Watch's Ecuador Program Director, Kevin Koenig, made the following statement about the announcement:

"This is a major victory for Ecuador's Indigenous movement and for the global effort to keep fossil fuels in the ground. This sends a compelling signal to international commodities markets that new resource extraction without the consent of Indigenous peoples is a clear rights violation and these resources will end up as stranded assets. We call on President Moreno to comply with this agreement in good faith.

While the announced moratorium does not address existing oil or mining concessions, it does for now appear to put an end to Ecuador's plans to tender sixteen new oil blocks in 2018, which the government had just recently announced in November after modifying its hydrocarbon contracts in the hope of attracting greater interest from foreign companies.

Indigenous communities in Ecuador's southern Amazon – home to the majority of the country's mining concessions and planned oil expansion – have repeatedly expressed their adamant opposition to resource extraction on their territories. Government claims of having consulted local communities in this area have been rejected by the communities and affirmed by the Inter-American Court on Human Rights."

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