Mountain toucan in Yasuní National Park, Ecuador

Core area “Protecting life on Earth – the environment and natural resources” Conserving biodiversity and fostering the bioeconomy

The protection of the environment and natural resources is the main focus of Germany's development cooperation with Ecuador. The BMZ assists its partners in conserving the country's extraordinary biodiversity and in linking this effort with strategies for using its biodiversity sustainably and generating economic benefits from it. To that end, the BMZ provides funding and advice with regard to activities such as coastal protection and marine conservation, biodiversity conservation in the Andes, and forest protection.

Protected areas

Ecuador is a biodiversity hotspot. More than 40 per cent of its land area is covered by tropical rainforest. Germany is therefore involved in development cooperation activities that help to protect the Amazon forests and improve local living conditions. Under Financial Cooperation, Germany supports the efforts of the Ecuadorian government to expand and strengthen the national network of protected areas. On behalf of the BMZ, KfW Development Bank is helping to finance the protected areas and related infrastructure. Through incentive mechanisms for avoided deforestation, KfW is also providing funding for compensation payments to – mostly indigenous – forest owners and communities that are willing to place their land under conservation. The money is used, for example, to improve health care and education in the communities in question. With support from development cooperation programmes, Ecuador has managed to reduce the national deforestation rate in the past few years.

The BMZ also helps its partners to conserve biodiversity in coastal and marine protected areas, for example through the protection of mangrove forests and strategies for sustainable artisanal fisheries. The unique ecosystem of the Galápagos Islands is particularly fragile. This UNESCO World Heritage site and habitat for endemic animal species is threatened by increasing tourism, marine litter, overfishing and invasive species. On behalf of the BMZ, KfW therefore provided support for the establishment of a fund for the protection of biodiversity on the Galápagos Islands.

Sustainable use of biodiversity

Ecuador is increasingly considering its biodiversity and protected areas as a source of economic potential. Using renewable resources from the natural environment (Bioeconomy) is becoming more and more important, as this can make the country's economic development less dependent on fossil resources. The BMZ assists its partners in using innovative biodiversity products sustainably and marketing them, in order to foster sound economic development and reduce poverty, especially in rural areas.

Key elements include the establishment and development of value chains based on cooperation with the private sector and producers' associations; application-oriented research on innovative “green” products; and funding for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the agricultural sector that use biodiversity-friendly and resource-friendly production methods. For example, GIZ, acting on behalf of the BMZ, is providing advice to local producers' associations on the establishment of deforestation-free cocoa production.

Adaptation to climate change

The sensitive alpine ecosystems in the Andes (especially the Páramo bog) are massively threatened by the consequences of climate change. These ecosystems are not only a significant carbon sink and water storage system, they also provide drinking water for large cities and water for energy generation and irrigation. As part of Technical Cooperation, GIZ is helping Andean smallholders and communities to develop and implement strategies for the sustainable use of Ecuador's biodiversity. The purpose of these efforts is to enhance people's resilience against environmental and climate change-related risks.