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Ecuador carries out largest debt swap to protect Galapagos Islands

Ecuador announced yesterday, Tuesday, the world’s largest debt swap for nature conservation, which will allow it to allocate resources to protect the famous Galapagos Islands, located about 1,000 kilometers off the country’s mainland coast.

The public debt swap operation was possible thanks to the support of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the U.S. Development Finance Corporation (DFC), said the Minister of Economy, Pablo Arosemena, at a ceremony at the President’s Office in Quito.

“Current debt for an approximate value of US$1.63 billion was exchanged for new debt of US$656 million. We generated an immediate reduction in the debt balance of approximately US$1 billion and a saving, over time, for our country of US$1.121 billion”, he said.

Ecuador carries out the largest debt swap to protect Galapagos Islands. (Photo internet reproduction)
Ecuador carries out the largest debt swap to protect Galapagos Islands. (Photo internet reproduction)

In addition, he added, approximately US$450 million will be allocated for the conservation of the Galapagos Islands to promote greater sustainability.

These resources will be invested to protect 198,000 square kilometers of ocean in perpetuity, of which 138,000 correspond to the Galapagos Marine Reserve, the second largest in the world and considered a treasure for its invaluable natural wealth for the planet.

The remaining 60,000 square kilometers are the Hermandad Marine Reserve, created in January 2022 and located between the Galapagos Marine Reserve and the Costa Rican maritime border to the northwest of the Galapagos Islands, declared a World Heritage Site in 1978 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

According to the Ecuadorian government, nearly 2,500 marine species, including critically endangered migratory species such as sea turtles and whale and hammerhead sharks, are protected.

Ecuador’s Foreign Minister, Gustavo Manrique, said at the event that the debt-for-nature swap is a “milestone” and a recognition of the work done by the Andean country to protect the environment.

“In an unprecedented effort to preserve the biodiversity of the Galapagos, the Government has achieved the largest debt-for-conservation swap in the history of mankind,” he said.

He added that this type of transaction allows countries to improve their debt management while boosting investment in environmental sustainability and biodiversity.

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