QUITO, Ecuador - World Wildlife Fund and the government of Ecuador, launching one of the most ambitious conservation partnerships ever undertaken, signed an agreement Friday to transform the Galapagos Islands into a model for 21st Century clean energy use over the next 10 years.
Devised jointly by WWF, Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. and the engineering firm Kreider & Associates of Boulder, Colorado, the Galapagos Sustainable Energy Initiative aims to create a renewable, non-polluting energy supply for the Galapagos through a series of projects and investments in the islands' power supply, transportation, fishing and tourism sectors. Through an estimated investment of $25 million, the effort's ultimate aim is to move the islands toward meeting their energy needs without the release of carbon dioxide.
"It is fitting that the cradle of our understanding of evolution should lead the way in showing how energy needs can be met in harmony with the needs of nature," said Kathryn S. Fuller, president of WWF-US. "Combining WWF's conservation expertise with cutting edge technology from Toyota and other major corporations will help keep the Galapagos protected from pollution and other threats for generations to come."
With President Lucio Gutierrez Borbua presiding, Foreign Minister Nina Pacari signed the agreement for Ecuador at a ceremony at the presidential palace in Quito. Other signatories included Guillermo Castilleja, WWF Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean, and Xavier Bustamante, national executive director of Fundacion Natura, WWF's conservation associate in Ecuador. Senior representatives from leading technology companies that are committed to supporting the plan also attended the ceremony. They included Toyota, Northern Power Systems, BP Solar, Stuart Energy and New Energy Capital.
The Galapagos Sustainable Energy Initiative was initially conceived by WWF in the aftermath of the oil spill that occurred when the Ecuadorian tanker Jessica ran aground near the islands in January, 2001. "That incident was a wake-up call that we had to do more to protect the flora and fauna that so inspired Charles Darwin from the growing impact of human activities," Fuller noted.
With major assistance from the Advanced Technologies Division of Toyota Motor Sales USA and the University of Colorado's College of Engineering, a 10-year plan was drafted to overhaul the islands' aging fuel storage facilities and begin replacing conventional fuel usage with wind and solar power and other alternative fuels such as hydrogen.
The government of Ecuador is already implementing the plan's recommendations for overhauling the Galapagos' main fuel storage facilities at Baltra, based on a technical assessment conducted by Toyota. In signing Friday's accord with WWF, it has now approved the rest of the plan, clearing the way for its implementation, including project design, construction and finance.
WWF and Fundacion Natura will now seek to broaden the unique partnership of government, business and conservation groups involved in the collaborative effort to realize the plan's other interim goals, which include:
- Developing wind, solar and hydrogen power and converting existing diesel generators to cleaner fuels.
- Replacing all two-cycle engines on fishing boats with more efficient and cleaner four-stroke engines.
- Designing and implementing an islands-wide recycling system.
- Eventual replacement of all motor vehicles on the islands with low emission vehicles.
" Toyota applauds the commitment that the government of Ecuador has demonstrated by signing this forward-looking, landmark agreement with WWF," said Bill Reinert, national manager for advanced technologies at Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. "We helped initiate this important effort for one of the most special places on earth and we support the efforts needed to complete the Galapagos Energy Initiative goals over the next decade," added Reinert, who co-authored the energy blueprint with Dr. Jan F. Kreider, professor of engineering at the University of Colorado and president of Kreider and Associates of Boulder, Colorado.
Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) U.S.A., Inc, is the marketing, sales, distribution and customer service arm of Toyota in America. Toyota is America's fourth largest carmaker and manufactures more than one million cars per year in North America. Toyota ADRs are traded on the New York Stock Exchange (symbol: TM.) The company's main Web site is www.toyota.com