Ecuador's Environmental Policies

Article excerpt

Ecuador lies on the northwest shores of South America, facing the Pacific Ocean. Located across the imaginary line that divides the globe into north and south, Ecuador is known as "the country in the middle of the world."

Ecuador's four distinct natural regions -- the Sierra, the Coast, the Amazon Basin and the Galapagos Islands -- contain some of the world's greatest bio-diversity. Ecuador is home to about 3,300 species of orchids, more then 1,500 species of birds, 350 species of reptiles, 450 species of amphibians, and more than 20,000 vascular plants. Ecuador's tropical rainforest is considered one of the richest and most complex plant and animal communities on Earth. Ten percent of the world's vascular plant species are located in Ecuador -- in an area that covers just 0.2 percent of the Earth's surface.

To protect this delicate and diverse environment, Ecuador has established an extensive system of national parks, scientific stations and protected areas.

Ecuador's Constitution guarantees the right to live in an ecologically balanced environment free of contamination. It proclaims the protection of environment, the conservation of the ecosystems and the country's genetic patrimony as matters of fundamental public interest.

In 1993, after a nationwide discussion with citizens' organizations, scientists, journalists, and public representatives, Ecuador approved a document called the "Basic Environmental Principles." The Basic Environmental Policies of Ecuador were established by an Executive Decree in 1994. These policies dearly state the obligations of each person and entity in regards to the preservation of the environment.

In 1996, Ecuador created the Ministry of Environment to coordinate environmental policies, programs and projects. At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Undersecretary of International Organisms, through the Direction of Environment coordinates national and international relations in issues concerning the environment and promotes policies internationally for the defense and protection of the environment.

The 1999 Law of Environmental Management established the principles and guidelines of environmental policies, determined the obligations, responsibilities, level of public and private participation on environmental management, and set the permissible limits, controls and sanctions. …