Ecuador: Lessons learnt
The creation of the annual reports on transparency and access to information on the forest sector in Ecuador has helped the topic to remain relevant in the public agenda. Although there is still sensitivity by some institutions to differing opinions, it is important to mention as well the openness and availability of others. The dialogue begun at the outset of the project with the different sectors - public (particularly at local level), private and civil society - continues. These processes of dialogue, with their ups and downs, and sometimes undermined by political questions and times, have undoubtedly generated possibilities for putting together actions, especially with local governments that have taken on the responsibilities for environmental management in their territory.
The topics which have generated greatest interest and continuity throughout the project are the use of the Organic Law on Transparency and Access to Public Information (LOTAIP) and the responsible consumption of forest products. These topics have been internalised by the Public Ombudsman and by the Provincial Government of Pichincha, respectively; in other words, these institutions have taken hold of the thematic concept and have begun processes allowing them to continue working in a sustained manner to improve transparency and governance of the forest sector.
In addition, it is important to emphasise the work carried out by FUNDECOL in the framework of this programme. FUNDECOL is a civil society organisation which is working to defend the mangrove swamp ecosystem. Research to systematise information on the offences committed in mangrove swamps was carried out, and the principal conclusion was that many offences go unpunished, and even when a punishment is imposed, there are no mechanisms to ensure that they are carried through. This situation shows that there is a need for more in-depth monitoring of the reported offences, the investigation processes and the penalties, to guarantee that forests are protected as suppliers of environmental services and a way of life for the local communities.