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Policy and Public Opinion: The Relationship Between The Philosophy of Buen Vivir and Environmental Perspectives in Ecuador

Through the question, how has environmental awareness changed in Ecuador and Peru following the inclusion of the philosophy of Buen Vivir in Ecuador’s 2008 Constitution? I explore whether the philosophy of Buen Vivir was simply a political campaign strategy executed by Ecuadorian president at the time, Rafael Correa, or if it exacted tangible change among the Ecuadorian public. Peru is included as a control variable, as it displays similar foundations of Buen Vivir, though did not grow to national recognition as it did in Ecuador. The concept originated among Quechua communities in South America, contrasting from the mainstream model of economic development, instead focusing on human and environmental well-being. As the threat of climate change grows, Buen Vivir offers a potential solution.

I first analyzed Ecuador’s 2008 Constitution and Peru’s 1993 Constitution for articles related to Buen Vivir. Then, utilizing the Latin American public opinion survey Latinobarómetro, I analyzed survey responses regarding environmental awareness in the two countries. I considered responses between the years of 2002 and 2016. I analyzed the questions “In your opinion, what is the most important problem in the country?” “How much have you heard about global warming or climate change?” “To what extent do the following freedoms, rights, life-chances and guarantees apply in [country]?” and “What it takes to be a good citizen.” Each contained responses related to the environment. I predicted that there would be an increase in environmental awareness in Ecuador, but not in Peru following 2008, due to the mainstream nature of Buen Vivir in Ecuador as opposed to Peru. My results revealed increases in both countries, which ultimately did not align with my hypothesis. There are a variety of explanations as to why this may have been the case, including that perhaps Buen Vivir was not as successful as anticipated.