Ladies and Gentlemen!
First of all, I would like to welcome all participants of the Green Week in my country!
In recent years Azerbaijan has turned into a venue of global forums for discussing pressing international issues. When it comes to environment, our efforts reflect our philosophy and our position as a regional and, soon to be, as one of the international leaders on the green development path.
During Green Week in Azerbaijan we have held International Youth Forum, Environmental Diplomacy Course, Green Economy Round Table, as well as for the first time outside the “traditional” Western European region we have hosted the Regional Consultation Meeting.
Yesterday we made a history by becoming the first country in Eastern Europe to undertake and complete a Green Economy Scoping Study, prepared jointly by UNEP and Azerbaijani national experts. This report reflects our country’s new engine of growth on a way of transition to a green economy. However, completion of the study is not the end of the journey, but another step along the way.
This year, the world marks 20 years of the global effort towards sustainable growth and equitable development for all. That is why it is symbolic for Azerbaijan to form a platform for promoting environmental sustainability, green economy, environmental health and environmental education.
Our guests indicated a big impact from the Green Week in Azerbaijan by the small act of planting trees that symbolized us, humans, as a branches on the same tree.
Snow-capped peaks, rocky inclines, rich forests, sloping meadows, steppes and semi-deserts of the lowland east – beautiful and picturesque, but so increasingly vulnerable is nature of my Motherland. I have often talked about how fortunate we are in Azerbaijan to have fascinating history and diverse culture, but also one of the richest biodiversities in the world. I still remember my excitement, when few weeks ago in Nakhchivan there was a photo captured that proved our hopes about the return of the leopard to Europe can be realized soon.
Looking at the World today I do realize that our responsibility towards future generations is mediated by the quality of life on Earth.
We shall pass our environment to future generations in a state that is, hopefully, in a better shape than when we inherited it.
Our “IDEA for Green Azerbaijan” educational and training project raised the awareness on environmental issues, increased their theoretical and practical knowledge. In more, than 20 cities our instructors promoted environmentally friendly behavior in around 8 000 middle school students from different regions of Azerbaijan.
We see nature conservation as a vital and integral part of our own environmental policy. Our three million trees planting initiative, corresponding to three million young people residing in Azerbaijan – is also excellent ways to bring Azerbaijani people together and focus on environmental issues.
We are facing challenges, that are too big for one country to handle alone and too structural in nature to ignore.
Yet, my country is working on numerous projects that will utilize Azerbaijan’s geographical location and will be based on our values. Looking to our past and noting our presence we can say, that in terms of religious tolerance, ideas, dialogue, and beliefs Azerbaijan is a unique country.
Just like in the past, when Azerbaijan was a focal point in historic Silk Way, today we working on uniting countries along the Global Green Corridor.
This unique concept of the Global Green Corridor will bring together thinkers and environmental advocacy organizations. Later on, it will stimulate local communities and businesses to cooperate for biodiversity conservation and sustainable management of natural resources.
It is our belief, that if the world is to make a transition to a low-carbon society and avoid the environmental, social and economic impacts of climate change, all sectors of society must be mobilized.
Ladies and gentlemen,
There can be only few more pressing and critical goals for the future of humankind than to ensure steady improvement in the quality of life for this and future generations.
Travelling around the region and around the globe, I witnessed how young generation has stepped up to a mission, willing to preserve natural beauty of our planet.
That is why I and my colleagues have organized environmental international movement with the widest representation in the South Caucasus, which is also one of the hosts of this Green Week – IDEA campaign.
As a part of the activities of IDEA we have created simulated nests for flocks of swifts, highly aerial birds, and thus relocated approximately 200 nests during renovation works on Maiden Tower.
The IDEA campaign has also identified the Caucasian Big Five – bear, eagle, wolf, gazelle and leopard, which are key species and the healthy survival of which should be considered as our main duty.
In order to promote dialogue, education, leadership and cooperation among youth not only in Azerbaijan, but around the globe, we have established partnerships with young environmentalist groups from all around a world.
For example, last month I’ve signed a Memorandum of Understanding with WWF Russia – which allowed us to add Caucasian bison to our IDEA’s list of endangered species – and we are working on similar legal document with WWF Turkey.
Our meeting today also shares similar purpose – to create an opportunity for the young generation to make a real change.
This week we brought together 50 representatives of more than 25 countries – this reflects IDEA’s slogan – ONE EARTH, ONE FUTURE. This reflects our philosophy, our thinking and behavior, our perception of the reality of environmental situation. This year gave us many good opportunities to try to prevent through education current human activities that may cause immediate and long-term environmental damages.
Once again, we need to remember, that we will be passing on complicated environmental problems to future generations. That's why we must at least give the next generation a solid understanding of these problems and the basic tools to overcome them.
Here, in Azerbaijan, though the efforts of IDEA campaign, environmental education will be incorporated in subjects of school curriculum.
Textbook, which IDEA campaign develops on environment, will be used as part of an elective courses in middle schools. Through discussions, hands-on activities and self reflection, students will learn to appreciate and protect the nature.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We are facing ever more serious environmental challenges as the 21st century continues. But we’re also developing more sensitive and better-supported principled understandings of how we must respond.
Citizen after citizen, community after community and country after country have demonstrated an abiding truth: given a focus and the chance to act, millions if not billions of people around this world want to see an end to pollution and environmental deterioration.
There are many important issues included in our agenda, and I hope that our deliberations will result in the wording of proper policies, resolutions and recommendations.
The participants of this Green Week have demonstrated enthusiasm and passion. I applaud them for challenging assumptions and looking for new ways to solve real environmental problems in our World.
I would like to thank the participating delegations, and thank everyone who worked on preparation and mobilization of this Green Week. It is, therefore, my wish that this Green Week in Azerbaijan should not be seen as the end of the program, but the start of the massive and global awareness campaign and scaling up of the program to full success.
Thank you very much for your attention.