This paper discusses the Yasuní ITT Initiative through which a sovereign state (Ecuador) proposed it would forgo oil extraction in an area overlapping with a global biodiversity reserve and indigenous territory in exchange for financial compensation from the global community. This paper argues that the ITT Initiative provides an excellent opportunity for a much needed discussion about limits on sovereign rights to natural resources. The article first looks into problematic features of sovereignty with respect to natural resources and argues that it fails to facilitate a use of natural resources compatible with demands of domestic and international justice. Three issues are identified: the extractivist bias, the problem of territorial monism, and the justice deficit. In the second part of the paper I show how the ITT Initiative innovatively attempted to transcend these structural weaknesses in the current system thus providing a valuable model of self-limiting sovereignty over natural resources. Three aspects are highlighted: a fiduciary model of resource sovereignty, the recognition of extraterritorial rights of others to sovereign resources, and a model of international cooperation for the non-exploitation of resources and the effective mitigation of climate change.
Biodiversity, Climate change, Indigenous rights, Natural resource justice, Sovereignty over natural resources, Yasuní ITT Initiative