Amazon Rainforest, lush and dense forestation

A Historic Decision in Ecuador: Voters Halt Oil Drilling in the Amazon

  • Ecuador has made a historic decision to halt oil drilling in Yasuní National Park, a result of over a decade of activism led by young people and organizations like Yasunidos. The landmark referendum took place on August 20, 2023, and was authorized by Ecuador's highest court.

  • The move is monumental for both indigenous communities and environmental activists, although it creates economic complexities for Ecuador, which relies heavily on oil exports. Prominent figures like Leonardo DiCaprio and Greta Thunberg have brought global attention to this act of climate democracy.

  • The decision sets a precedent for citizen-influenced environmental policies and offers a model for future climate action. Ecuador's national oil company, Petroecuador, will conclude operations within the next 18 months, making this a pivotal moment in global efforts to combat climate change.


In an unprecedented act of climate democracy, Ecuadorians have voted to halt oil drilling in Yasuní National Park. This landmark decision emphasizes the power of collective choice and responsibility toward the environment.

A Decade-long Fight

The fight to protect Yasuní National Park from oil drilling has spanned over a decade. Initiated by young activists and organizations like Yasunidos, they battled against government determination to continue drilling. The country's highest court authorized the vote in May, leading to the historic referendum on August 20, 2023.

The Stakes in Oil Drilling

The stakes were high for oil drilling in this region, being home to several indigenous tribes and a plethora of unique plant and animal species. However, oil is Ecuador's most critical export, and the government estimated a loss of $16 billion over 20 years if drilling was halted.

The decision to cease drilling won by 59 percent, marking a monumental moment for indigenous organizations and environmental activists.

Indigenous Perspectives and Global Attention

The vote highlighted complexities within local communities around oil drilling. Some residents supported oil companies due to economic growth, while others opposed drilling to protect ancestral lands.

Celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Greta Thunberg drew global attention to the referendum, heralding it as a pioneering instance of democratizing climate politics.

Impact and Future of Oil Drilling

Ecuador's decision to halt oil drilling in the Amazon is monumental, setting a precedent for future climate action. Ecuador's national oil company Petroecuador will have to wind up operations within the next year and a half.

As Ecuador takes this step, the world watches, reflecting on the sacrifice needed to protect the planet. The Ecuadorian example shows how citizens can influence environmental policy.


Ecuador's historic decision to stop oil drilling in Yasuní National Park is a significant moment in the fight against climate change. This referendum showcases the power of collective action, setting a precedent for other nations.

In a world facing ecological crises, Ecuador's vote becomes a symbol of hope and a model for decisions affecting our planet's future.

Read more about nations leading reforestation efforts here.


Ecuador Votes to Stop Oil Drilling in Amazon Reserve

Ecuador Yasuní Drilling Referendum

Back to blog

Leave a comment