Port Harcourt — Oilwatch International has applauded citizens of Ecuador for voting enmasse against oil extraction at Yasuni national park in the Amazon.
Recall that an overwhelming 5.2 million citizens of Ecuador recently voted in a national referendum to keep crude oil in the soil at Yasuni national park, while 3.6 million others voted to extract the oil, according to Ecuador’s National Electoral Commission.
The move will keep an estimated one billion barrels of oil underground in the Yasuní national park, one of the most bio-diverse regions on the planet; making Ecuador one of the first countries in the world to set limits on oil extraction through a democratic vote, at a time when the climate crisis is intensifying around the world.
Reacting, the Chairman of Oilwatch International Steering Committee, Dr. Nnimmo Bassey, said despite opposition from vested interests, the votes affirm restorative justice for the entirety of the wounded Amazon and its people, sending a strong signal that another world was possible.
Oilwatch is an international network that builds solidarity and promotes a common identity in the the peoples of the Global South seeking to stop the expansion of fossil fuel extraction activities that degrades territories, socially and environmentally.
Bassey, who holds a national honour of Member of Order of Federal Republic, MFR, for environmental activism, saluted the people of Ecuador on the historic victory, explaining that voting to keep an estimated 1 billion barrels of oil in the ground at Yasuni, remains a remarkable climate action worthy of emulation.
According to him, the referendum though coming 10 years after the original petition, showed the triumph of a citizenry with the capacity to fight for their rights.
He said: “This is a great lesson in the meaning of democracy and participation that places care for life at the center of the struggle to overcome multiple crises. Activists from around the world recognize that Ecuador is now a reference point for forging citizenship that looks to the future in a new and visionary way.
‘For the world, and particularly for Latin America, a just transition for people and nature. Throughout Latin America, the people especially the Indigenous peoples, through resistance struggles, are confronting the pollution and damage caused by oil extraction and moving to protect territories that must be liberated.
“The victory of the people of Ecuador is one that should be shared largely across the globe. The vote on Yasuni is the real climate leadership the world truly needs. After a long wait, we celebrate the victory of the people of Ecuador. This is a major step towards depetrolising the world and combating climate change and its ravages. This victory is a strong signal to polluters that their impunity must stop.”
Similarly, Coordinator of Oilwatch International, Mr Kentebe Ebiaridor, while celebrating the outcome of the referendum, stated that the votes were a huge victory not just for the indigenous people but for nature as well.
“With efforts such as these, there is hope that the rights of nature can be respected and endangered species will gradually recover. He applauded the bravery of the Ecuadorians and urged other communities around the world to emulate the same gesture.
“Oilwatch agrees with the broad network of activists calling for an end to fossil fuels expansion that it is time for the fulfillment of the common but differentiated responsibilities of the polluting countries, the payment of the ecological debt from the North to the South, and the battle against false solutions to the climate crisis should see Yasuní as the territory from which genuine and just transition has signaled a start that cannot be postponed,” he said.