Ecuador's Environmental Revolutions

Ecuador's Environmental Revolutions

Ecoimperialists, Ecodependents, and Ecoresisters

By Tammy L. Lewis

An account of the movement for sustainable development in Ecuador through four eras: movement origins, neoliberal boom, neoliberal bust, and citizens' revolution.





An account of the movement for sustainable development in Ecuador through four eras: movement origins, neoliberal boom, neoliberal bust, and citizens' revolution.

Ecuador is biologically diverse, petroleum rich, and economically poor. Its extraordinary biodiversity has attracted attention and funding from such transnational environmental organizations as Conservation International, the World Wildlife Fund, and the United States Agency for International Development. In Ecuador itself there are more than 200 environmental groups dedicated to sustainable development, and the country's 2008 constitution grants constitutional rights to nature. The current leftist government is committed both to lifting its people out of poverty and pursuing sustainable development, but petroleum extraction is Ecuador's leading source of revenue. While extraction generates economic growth, which supports the state's social welfare agenda, it also causes environmental destruction. Given these competing concerns, will Ecuador be able to achieve sustainability? In this book, Tammy Lewis examines the movement for sustainable development in Ecuador through four eras: movement origins (1978 to 1987), neoliberal boom (1987 to 2000), neoliberal bust (2000 to 2006), and citizens' revolution (2006 to 2015).

Lewis presents a typology of Ecuador's environmental organizations: ecoimperialists, transnational environmentalists from other countries; ecodependents, national groups that partner with transnational groups; and ecoresisters, home-grown environmentalists who reject the dominant development paradigm. She examines the interplay of transnational funding, the Ecuadorian environmental movement, and the state's environmental and development policies. Along the way, addressing literatures in environmental sociology, social movements, and development studies, she explores what configuration of forces—political, economic, and environmental—is most likely to lead to a sustainable balance between the social system and the ecosystem.


$65.00 X ISBN: 9780262034296 292 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 30 figures


$30.00 X ISBN: 9780262528771 292 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 30 figures


  • Lewis' study is, perhaps, the first comprehensive history of modern environmentalism in Ecuador, and it provides an insightful analysis of the dynamics at play between international actors, national NGOs and movements, and the state. The book's analytical framework can be applied to other developing countries to analyse and understand the dynamics of struggles for sustainability in the Global South.

    Journal of Latin American Studies

  • Overall, this book is a thoroughly researched contribution to understanding how global processes intermingle with environment and development trajectories on multiple levels throughout the developing world.

    Bulletin of Latin American Research


  • In this original and engaging account of the three-way struggles between the Ecuadorian state, global environmental donors, and local environmentalists, Lewis takes forward our understanding of the tortuous, binary synthesis that emerges from the combination of sustainable development policy and neoliberal economics. This book is a rare thing—an analysis of what happens when the environmental rhetoric, and the money, run out.

    Michael Redclift

    King's College, London, author of Chewing Gum: The Fortunes of Taste and Frontiers: Histories of Civil Society and Nature

  • Ecuador's Environmental Revolutions offers a unique framework for evaluating trade-offs among economic, social, and ecological values and policies in the globalization era. Comparing successive neoliberal periods, Tammy Lewis provides a didactic template for analyzing changing balances of forces within and between states, extractive resource interests, and environmental movements. This is a very timely case study with universal relevance.

    Philip McMichael

    Cornell University, author of Development and Social Change: A Global Perspective and Food Regimes and Agrarian Questions