Prior to founding Equitable Origin, David Poritz and Manuel Pallares worked for nearly a decade to empower affected communities in Ecuador to protect themselves and their lands from the often destructive practices of irresponsible operators in the extractive industries. They launched numerous local health and environmental education initiatives and contributed to the development of groundbreaking policies in the 2008 Ecuadorian Constitution, including the first ever constitutional recognition of the Rights of Nature.
Through these experiences, David recognized the need for a market-based mechanism to incentivize energy companies to operate under the highest standards for social and environmental performance. He learned that energy developers could be encouraged to improve their practices through two key drivers: greater transparency in development processes and public recognition of and rewards for industry-leading development practices to reduce negative impacts and maximize benefits.
Recognizing that litigation did not consistently produce timely results or spark effective action, David began to wonder if technology, planning and appropriate consultation could be used to prevent irresponsible practices and their effects; why can’t the exploitation of natural resources provide direct benefits to local communities while preserving local culture, environment and biodiversity? He concluded that global standards for oil and gas exploration and production developed to protect the earth’s ancient cultures and the environment, in combination with and market mechanisms that provide reputational and financial incentives for developers complying with those standards could have timely and lasting positive impacts on people and ecosystems.
Under this hypothesis, David and Manuel, along with other key individuals—veterans from the oil and gas industry, community representatives, environmental scientists, and standards and certification professionals—set out to create Equitable Origin, a new certification system for oil and gas exploration and production that codified the most advanced environmental, social, safety, transparency and community engagement standards in the world. Beginning in January 2009, Equitable Origin brought together oil and gas companies, governments, local and indigenous communities, academics, and NGOs, to create a rating system for social and environmental responsibility in oil and gas exploration and production. Negotiated by these stakeholders, the EO100™ Standard consolidates and ensures alignment with existing global standards and regulations. As the organization grew, it encountered the need for standards and certification of other energy projects outside of the oil and gas sector, and began expanding upon the foundational EO100™ Standard to make it applicable to other types of energy development. Certification under the EO100™ Standard brings greater transparency and credibility to developers’ operations through strong standards and independent, third-party verification of best practices.
As of mid-2015, Equitable Origin is active in Ecuador, Colombia, Mexico, and the United States, and certified the first development site, a large oil field in Colombia, under the EO100™ Standard in 2014.
David and Manuel continue to pursue their shared vision of positive change in the energy industry through pragmatic, market-friendly approaches that benefit all stakeholders in energy development projects as they help guide Equitable Origin into new sectors and new geographies.