Protecting Ecuador’s natural heritage and using natural resources sustainably

Project description

Title: Protection and sustainable use of natural resources
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Ecuador
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Environment
Overall term: 2018 to 2021



Ecuador is increasingly acknowledging the economic potential of its biological diversity and protected areas. The use of renewable resources (bioeconomy) is becoming more important as it allows the economic development of the country to become more independent of fossil fuels. In the medium term, 20 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) is to be generated from the use of biological resources. By using and marketing biodiversity in a sustainable way, products are to contribute positively to the economy and to poverty reduction.

The Ministry of Environment has many years’ experience in managing protected areas. Over two million people visit 55 protected areas annually, which cover a fifth of the country’s land mass. However, the information available to the Ministry is not enough to determine the contribution of biodiversity to the development of the country. In marine protected areas, in particular, there is a lack of scientific knowledge about environmental interdependencies and economic potential and, up to now, this has led to an insufficient basis for making decisions to determine protected and use zones and to guarantee the sustainability of these areas. In addition, institutional, technical and financial weaknesses in the environmental sector and inadequate cooperation between institutions present a challenge.

The demand for innovative biodiversity products is rising worldwide and this has strong economic potential for Ecuador. There are now lots of initiatives and start-ups which focus on digitalisation in the country and digital solutions for the management of protected areas can be developed based on their experiences. In addition, the Ecuadorian Government is trying to get society, universities and business more involved in protection measures and the sustainable use of biological resources. 


Ecuador is successfully implementing its national bioeconomy strategy for the protection and sustainable use of biodiversity. 



The project is geared towards boosting the skills and knowledge of key actors at various levels of intervention. Together with partner institutions, the Ministry of Environment, Agriculture and Fisheries and regional authorities, the project is developing sustainable, economically viable and socially responsible solutions. These are derived from the environmental strategies, including the biodiversity and climate strategies. In this way, the project improves the conditions for the protection and sustainable use of biodiversity in Ecuador.