Ecuador A country looking for a way out of the crisis
In the second ballot on 11 April 2021, the conservative candidate, Guillermo Lasso, became Ecuador's new president. He announced that he would pursue a more liberal economic policy in order to bring the country out of the crisis. In that endeavour, it will be vital to get the various stakeholders within society on board and bring them together.
Ambitious development goals
Ecuador's government has set itself ambitious development goals. The National Development Plan for the years 2017 to 2021 stipulates as its goal that all citizens should be able to lead lives free from poverty and violence. Particular prominence has been given to political and social dialogue and to giving the population a say in all areas of life. The Development Plan was framed specifically for the purpose of implementing the 2030 Agenda at the national level. In the Plan, social inclusion, environmental sustainability, political participation and peace are linked together.
Since the oil price began to plummet in 2014, the Ecuadorian government's scope for action and policymaking has been reduced significantly – even before the COVID-19 pandemic. In the medium to long term, the key task for the government therefore continues to be to transform the country towards a sustainable development model that offers alternatives to the current reliance on commodity exports.
The extraction of resources (especially the development of oil fields and mines in sensitive ecosystems) gives rise to conflicting goals. On the one hand, the economic crisis, the pandemic and the spending cuts require additional sources of revenue. On the other hand, a commodity-based economy may result in conflict arising from social and environmental aspects or distribution issues, especially with regard to the interests of indigenous communities and to compliance with environmental and social standards. The continuing challenge for the government is therefore to work for gradual change on an environmentally sustainable and socially equitable basis.
German development cooperation with Ecuador
Germany is one of the largest bilateral development cooperation donors to Ecuador. The most recent bilateral government negotiations took place online in November 2020. Commitments made in 2020 totalled 72.2 million euros, of which 50.6 million euros was earmarked for Financial Cooperation and 21.6 million euros, for Technical Cooperation.
Germany's development cooperation with Ecuador focuses on the following three core areas:
- Protecting life on Earth – the environment and natural resources, with a special focus on biodiversity and forest conservation
- Peaceful and inclusive societies, with a special focus on good governance and displacement and migration
- Responsibility for our planet – climate and energy, with a special focus on sustainable urban development
Ecuador also takes part in several regional and global programmes under German development cooperation. For example, the eco.business Fund supports green growth, including in Ecuador, for instance by fostering sustainable cocoa cultivation. The BMZ also works together with Ecuador in the field of sustainable supply chains, specifically on sustainable and socially equitable banana cultivation. (Ecuador is the world's number one exporter of bananas. Some 30 per cent of Ecuador's banana exports go to Germany.) The BMZ is also engaged in what is called triangular cooperation. It supports South-South cooperation with Ecuador and other Latin American countries, for example in the area of forest fire control and with regard to the scientific collection of biodiversity data.
With regard to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts, the BMZ's focus in Ecuador is on support for green recovery activities. The BMZ also sent a German Epidemic Preparedness Team (SEEG) to Ecuador early on, which included virologists from Charité university hospital in Berlin, in order to build laboratory and diagnostic capacity on the ground, thus helping to contain the spread of COVID-19. Further activities focus on protecting vulnerable groups and providing services for them. Vulnerable groups include, in particular, displaced persons, indigenous people and women who are at risk of suffering violence.
In the field of non-governmental cooperation, the BMZ provides high levels of funding for activities by civil society organisations and faith-based organisations.