Proposal to exchange Ecuador’s foreign debt to expand the Galapagos marine reserve would be made with a public-private alliance and a trust

The Más Galápagos initiative explained how the mechanism would be applied.

March 8, 2021 – 5:53 p.m.

The integral proposal put forward is to create a new protected area around the Galapagos Sea of ​​445,951 square kilometers and several fishing management zones.

This Monday, Más Galápagos , which is identified as a citizen initiative, explained the mechanism to carry out the debt swap in order to ensure the expansion of the Galapagos Marine Reserve (RMG) – from the current 40-mile (133,000 km square) to 80 miles (435,000 square km) – through a statement, and [explained] that does not yet have an official resolution.

This, according to the initiative, is “an agreement that reduces the foreign debt of a country in exchange for a commitment to protect the nature of the debtor’s government” and that it would be a public-private alliance between the Government of Ecuador and an international entity.

“The debt refinancing alternative is a possible option to guarantee adequate resources permanently; it is a voluntary transaction of the country, where, in addition the savings from the reduction of debt service restructuring, they are then invested in projects of conservation,” argued the group, who assured that similar cases have occurred in other countries such as Bolivia, which in 1980 signed this commitment in exchange for protecting the Beni Biosphere Reserve.

Also, Indonesia in 2011, with the aim of improving deforestation rates; even Ecuador in 1989 , according to Más Galapagos, “was one of the first countries to successfully use a similar approach to provide the necessary resources for the conservation of protected natural areas.”

Meanwhile, the initiative clarified that in the event of the exchange, a public-private alliance would be formed for the administration of a fund for the sustainable development of Galapagos, in which the Government of Ecuador would have power over all the decisions of the Fund. In addition, its Board of Directors would be made up of national actors, including the artisanal fishing sector.

They also clarify that the Board of Directors of the fund will not include any foreign NGO. It is a fund that will be for the exclusive benefit of the country.

They also explain that the trust for the fund would be legally established in the United States, and will have an office in Ecuador. “The resources of the trust will remain in an investment account, which will annually deposit the returns to the Fund’s account in Ecuador. This will facilitate the investments necessary for its capitalization, and greater efficiency in its management,” said the group.

Finally, they assured that the proposed expansion of the protection zone has technical-scientific support and has been presented to the National Government to analyze and apply its findings; and that they have the support of artisanal fishermen from the Ecuadorian Coast unionized in the Federation of Fishing Organizations of Ecuador (FOPAE).

Despite this, last week, artisanal and industrial unions rejected the debt swap initiative for the expansion of the protected area. Among the leaders who expressed their disagreement are Grace Unda, vice president of the Copes Promar Fishing Cooperative and representative of the Ecuadorian Fishing Artisan Community; and Bruno Leone, president of the National Chamber of Fisheries.

These unions assured that in the proposed expansion area, between 25% and 30% of the annual catches are captured [there]; taking into account value of the capture, plus the processing value would be $ 380 million, plus 1.78% for the chain of the industry of the Central Bank of Ecuador (BCE) the impact can reach $ 676 million.

Leone was blunt in pointing out that public debt cannot suppress sovereignty.

On the issue of sovereignty, Eliecer Cruz, spokesperson for Más Galapagos, indicated: “The acquisition of Ecuadorian debt does not imply any type of loss of sovereignty. Said debt already operates in the markets, it is bought by individuals from all over the world, and this does not affect any type of right over the country, nor on the sovereign decisions of the Ecuadorian State.” (I)

Read the original coverage from El Universo at

Read additional coverage from Expreso at

Informing and sharing news on marine life, flora, fauna and conservation in the Galápagos Islands since 2017
© SOS Galápagos, 2021

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