Ome Yasuni: Oil, Contact and Conservation in the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador

Tuesday, December 4, 2018 7:10 PM - 9:00 PM


Judith Kimerling, Professor of Environmental Law and Policy in the Political Science Department and Environmental Studies Program at The City University of New York, Queens College.

Kimerling graduated from University of Michigan and Yale Law School, after which she worked for seven years as an environmental litigator, including five years as an Assistant Attorney General for New York State, where she worked on the Love Canal litigation and other hazardous waste cleanup litigation and negotiations. In 1989, she moved to Ecuador and worked with indigenous organizations in the Amazon Rainforest to document the environmental and social impacts of oil development there. Her findings and photographs first placed concerns about the impact of oil production on indigenous peoples and the environment in tropical forests on the international environmental and human rights policy agendas. Her book Amazon Crude was called “the Silent Spring of Ecuador” by The New York Times. In the U.S., it prompted a historic class action lawsuit, Aguinda v. Texaco, Inc., which led to related proceedings in Ecuador and other fora that raise many issues of importance to legal scholars and practitioners around the world.

Professor Kimerling currently serves as international counsel for Ome Gompote Kiwigimoni Huaorani (Ome Yasuni), an alliance of indigenous Huaorani (Waorani) communities who came together to protect a 758,051-hectare area of rainforest known as “The Intangible Zone.” Located in ancestral Huaorani territory and the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve, The Intangible Zone is also home to the last known group of people still living in voluntary isolation in Ecuador’s Amazon region. Professor Kimerling also serves on the Technical Advisory Committee of REDOIL, a network of Alaska Natives who work to promote sustainable development.