Oil: Can Ecuador see past the black stuff?
A revolutionary plan to leave Ecuador's abundant oil in the ground could show the world just what's possible
One of the most extraordinary people I have met in 10 days of travelling around Peru and Ecuador has been Alberto Costa. He's head of Ecuador's leading research group now, but until 2007 was the second most powerful man in the country after the president, Rafael Correa. He was not only charged with masterminding the new constitition but was head of the assembly, or parliament, a founder of the ruling political party and minister of energy of the country that depends on oil.
But Costa will go down in history as the world's only serving oil minister to have ever proposed leaving a country's black stuff in the ground. That's like Dracula renouncing blood, or a sports minister saying it's better to play hide and seek than football. It just does not happen.
He is the architect of the Ecuadorean government's plan to guarantee to leave 965m barrels of oil in the Yasuni national park in eastern Ecuador if the world contributes $100m in the next year and eventually around $3.6bn. The revolutionary economic idea to earn money by not exploiting a resource has been endorsed by the government and will be administered by the UN Development Programme. more