Baku, Azerbaijan, April 28
By Seymur Aliyev - Trend:
Azerbaijan is a remarkable example of fast development during the recent years, said the former President of Finland Tarja Halonen at the second Global shared Societies Forum in Baku on April 28.
The number of people living in poverty declined from 50 percent in 2001 to 7 percent in 2012 [in Azerbaijan]. Some of this is of course because of its natural resources; they have had a good impact.
Meanwhile, the policies implemented in the country played an important role in this improvement too, she believes.
Energy will continue to play the role of the engine of economic development in Azerbaijan. Meanwhile the government seems to be seeking for diversification of the economic sector, including the ITC sector, healthcare and other services which would provide growth, according to Halonen.
She also urged deploying all necessary means to reduce the environmental impact of energy production and improve energy efficiency and develop renewable energy.
"A flexible energy mix, increasing the share of renewable energy sources needs to be developed even in oil and gas producing countries," she said.
Halonen noted that Azerbaijan was among the first countries which introduced gender equality and provided women the right to be a candidate and vote in public elections.
"Azerbaijan introduced this basic right in 1918 during the short period of its first independence," she said.
Halonen said that much work is needed now for promoting women's active participation in political and economic areas and this issue was discussed during her visit to Baku.
"By promoting equal participation of women we not only improve the quality of life, but at the same time the lives of the whole society," she said.
Tarja Halonen noted during the participants of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development also known Rio+20 in 2012, which was attended by many of the speakers of today's Global shared Societies Forum agreed to place people in the focus of the development.
"No one will be then left behind," she said.
She also said that the world has made progress in achieving the UN's Millennium Development Goals.
"Even though not all the goals have been attained, it is wonderful that we have achieved many of those important goals. For instance halving the share of people living in extreme poverty, and also direct progress has been made in widening literacy and making safe drinking water availability," Halonen said.
In her speech Finland's ex-president also thanked the organizers as well as the government of Azerbaijan for their outstanding hospitality.
The second Global shared Societies Forum is being attended by former heads of states and governments, who are the members of the Nizami Ganjavi International Center, Club of Rome and Club of Madrid, over 150 prominent public and political figures from 54 countries.
The forum's agenda includes such issues as foundations of open societies, conflict settlement methods in difficult situations, multi-governance for ensuring sustainable development process and the need for institutional frameworks, as well as other important issues.
The forum plans to hold broad discussions on such issues as practical work in the area of domestic economic growth policy, creation of conditions for high-quality education and other social services, strengthening the role of women in society, as well as the natural resources for sustainable development and the role of global boundaries, clean technologies and unity of "green energy".
During the discussions on conflict settlement in difficult situations, the rapporteurs will share their experience and knowledge in the conflict settlement and social integration area, and will exchange views on the basic principles of integration and openness, which may be useful in addressing the existing problems.
The first session of the 2nd Global Shared Societies Forum was held on May 6-8, 2013 in Baku.