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Individual Paper: Daring to Imagine

A new look at the process of ‘realising’ the Yasuní-ITT initiative through the lens of STS.

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The Yasuní National Park, located in the Ecuadorian Amazon, is one of the most biodiverse places on Earth, refuge of various indigenous communities, and is also where more than 20% of the Ecuadorian oil reserves are located. In 2007, Ecuador proposed the Yasuní-ITT initiative which aimed to protect the park from oil drillings, while furthering the country’s development. To do so, Ecuador appealed to the international community (especially developed countries) soliciting them to collaborate with half the opportunity cost of leaving the Yasuní’s oil underground, with the argument that in a country where almost 40% of the population lived in poverty it would be impossible to overcome an oil addiction without receiving additional resources. This initiative proposed a new path towards development and set the bases for a post-oil economy, converging with the ideals of the degrowth movement, and opposing the country’s previous extractivist logic. In 2013 the failure of the initiative was declared as the required funds were not received.

The Yasuní-ITT initiative created (and still creates) both enthusiasm and scepticism. On the one hand, it constituted a “Utopia” that would position a small country from the global South as a strong proponent of new ways of imagining development and climate change mitigation. On the other hand, what it represented appeared indistinct and fanciful, as it was comparable to an economic relation where the country would be payed “for not doing something” – not drilling its oil fields. The Yasuní-ITT initiative embodied the possibility of a new political economic “reality”. In this paper the aim is to show, through an applied case study of the Yasuní-ITT initiative and from a Science and Technology Studies’ perspective, what are the actors and events that are fundamental to give birth to new economic ideas, and what are the processes that help those new ideas become new ‘realities’ – or not.


Day: 2018-08-23
Start time: 14:30
Duration: 00:15
Room: ABF (206)
Track: The Pluriverse: Articulating alternatives to development



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