Leyla Aliyeva addresses 7th INEPO-Euroasia International Environmental Project Olympiad

Vice-President of Heydar Aliyev Foundation, initiator of IDEA (International Dialogue and Environmental Action) campaign Leyla Aliyeva delivered a speech at the 7th INEPO-Euroasia International Environmental Project Olympiad in Baku, APA reports. Leyla Aliyeva thanked the organizers and supporters of the International Environmental Project Olympiad event for their efforts and priceless contribution:

“It is symbolic that this event is taking place here, at the heart of this unique region, which presents untapped potential of natural resources, as well as strategic location at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Azerbaijan is also known not only for significant contribution to the energy security of Europe, but for our rich history and culture that combines the wisdom of the East and the progress of the West. Today my country by implementing a range of initiatives, measurably improved our own environmental performance, and has helped our neighbors to do the same. We are the leader in this region and our environmental policy builds directly from our strategy aimed at improving the eco-efficiency of resource use and moving toward more sustainable modes of production and consumption. Not that far ago we have entered this long-awaited new century facing problems that caused social disintegration and violence to increase, strategic balances to change, world disorder to intensify, and a great variety of exploitation to become systematic.”

Accoridng to her, the truth, that is hard to admit, that most of us care more about our own welfare than we do about that of persons living three or four or five generations hence:

“Too often we act as if we were not part of nature. Rather than thinking of ourselves as nested in nature and dependent upon it, we think of ourselves as sitting on top of it, managing it. With this attitude one can predict with the high probability the emergence of a global catastrophe in the future. That is why, today, this struggle toward our common future should be based on a fundamentals of environmental education at schools and colleges. Our youth today is the most important intellectual, cultural and professional reserve, on the quality of life and development of which depends the fate of our states.”

Leyla Aliyeva noted that Azerbaijan is a country of amazing nature and rich biodiversity, located in nine of the eleven climate zones:

“It is our belief that the time has come for present generations to act with an eye to the protection of future generations. It has been almost two years since we launched IDEA (International Dialogue for Environmental Action) - the international public awareness campaign. This campaign became a platform for implementing of various mechanisms in the field of environmental protection, as well as youth policy. Our philosophy - “Releasing the power of youth to create greater harmony with our global environment” - allows us to focus on youth and consider it as an important tool to change the way we behave with surrounding us nature. Last year we have opened the IDEA Resource Center at the Academy of Public Administration of Azerbaijan. This center since became a home for those who want to create, protect, and nurture. We have witnessed how IDEA Resource Center made a difference through innovation, leadership, and proactive actions. Also, for the first time, the capital of Azerbaijan hosted “Green Week,” organized by the IDEA campaign jointly with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). From the beginning of our campaign we identified the Caucasian Big Five - bear, eagle, wolf, gazelle and leopard, which are endangered 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, IDEA campaign has signed 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.

Aliyeva noted that over the past 10 years, our country has undertaken considerable efforts to assess the status of the Caucasian leopard and develop approaches for its conservation:

“This big cat, being one of the rarest species of the region, has been recently spotted by WWF’s camera traps in two out of many Azerbaijani National Parks. For many years this beautiful animal has not been seen anywhere. Today, after receiving a proof that these beautiful, but rare and endangered species survived only in Azerbaijan, our task now is to preserve and ensure the living conditions for this and other rare species in their natural habitat. We succeeded in the field of environmental education and projects, specifically tailored at protecting the environment of the entire region and Azerbaijan in particular. 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.

I can proudly state, that starting next academic year on the initiative of our campaign, environmental education classes will be included in the curriculum of schools in Azerbaijan. However, we do not restrict ourselves to educational programs. This spring, with our partners from Lithuania, Russia, Britain, Italy and Kyrgyzstan we will be putting on nesting boxes for birds in the parks of the capital cities of those countries. This project will symbolize the unity in the commitment to support and protect nature, regardless of the politics.

At the end of her speech, Leyla Aliyeva underlined:

“Dear friends, we should understand one undisputed factor - that today we live on a human-dominated planet. The growth of the human population and the growth in amount of resources used are altering Earth in unprecedented ways. Through the activities of agriculture, fisheries, industry, recreation, and international commerce, humans altered the life on this planet in unimaginable ways. Value of natural resources can be identified and expressed in the form of money, but the value of clean air, natural landscapes and unspoiled ecosystems in monetary terms is almost impossible. They are simply priceless. I am optimistic about the future.

I think that it is the current generation of citizens, by inheriting best of traditions of preserving the nature and learning about the environment will be able to eliminate all threats to the present and future of our children. And this is the case, where we all can contribute! The safety, happiness, and indeed continuation of this planet that we live on depend upon the implementation of the projects displayed at the Olympiad. We need to unite our efforts in a task of protection of each species on the planet, fresh air, clean drinking water, safe nutritional sources... In short, a world which would be proud to hand over to our children. I want to wish a great success to all of the participants and express my support to this amazing effort.”