Azerbaijan, Gabala, Nov. 25 / Trend, A.Akhundov /
We all live in very critical and complex times, in which it's difficult to maintain a distance from the environmental problems, Vice-President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, founder of the International Dialogue for Environmental Action (IDEA) Leyla Aliyeva said addressing the International Camp of Young Environmentalists, which kicked off in Gabala.
"It is up to us - young people, to attempt to critically re-evaluate the current situation. Environmental problems, stemming from the climate change, increased carbon emissions, the rise of atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases, ocean variability, droughts, and ensuing humanitarian problems in various parts of the world cannot leave the younger generation indifferent," Aliyeva said.
"In the last 50-60 years, expansion of anthropogenous activity has devastated the ecological balance of flora and fauna around the world. Concentrations of carbon gas emissions reached 389 parts per million only in 2010 - the highest such concentrations since the start of the industrial era in 1750. Today, a car absorbs on average over 4 tons of oxygen from the atmosphere, releasing with exhaust gases about 800 kg of carbon oxide, 40 kg of nitric dioxide and nearly 200 kg of various hydrocarbons," she added.
"Therefore, one of the main priorities of the IDEA Campaign, which we announced in July of this year, is to plant trees and vegetation in and around Baku. We have started a campaign under a slogan - "Young tree for Young Spirit" - according to which, we estimate to plant 300,000 trees until the Rio+20 UN Global Conference on Sustainable Development, to be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2012. We all need to be reminded that trees and plants are the only source of oxygen on our planet. 25 percent of a leaf surface from a tree on a sunny day makes enough oxygen required for a person per day. One acre of trees generates enough oxygen each day for 18 people," Aliyeva underscored.
She said Azerbaijan is not just a country with 9 out of 11 climatic zones, which is a unique natural phenomenon in itself. "This is the country of mud volcanoes, burning mountains - with naturally emerging eternal flames, endemic trees, highest mountain plateaus, magnificent coastal areas, lush forests, ravines and plains, which all together create a fabulous landscape. The natural impounded Goygol Lake, situated at the footsteps of Murovdag, 1,556 meters above the sea level, has become an inspiration for the region's natural habitat. Our gushing rivers create a wonderful tapestry on the map, all harmoniously flowing into the Caspian Sea - known as the largest lake in the world," Aliyeva underlined.
She said IDEA campaign became a logical continuation of what is being implemented in Azerbaijan in the field of environmental protection and ecology. The year 2010 was declared a year of ecology in Azerbaijan. Indeed, in 2010, there were 14 million trees planted around the country, dozens of new parks opened.
"The foundation, where I serve as a vice-president, has launched a campaign to protect and resettle the Azerbaijani gazelles in their natural habitats. We receive information on the movements of gazelles, whose special collars have been installed with sensors that transmit signals about their location several times a day. Protection of endangered species is one of our top priorities, as animals like the Caucasian leopard - the largest leopard subspecies, are under the danger of extinction, due to sharp rise in hunting of wild ungulates. The presence of the Caucasian leopard is a sign of the health of the entire ecosystem," Aliyeva added.
According to Aliyeva, the Maiden Tower in the centre of Baku - the 12th century cultural monument has always been the pride of the city. "During renovation works, we have come across a very interesting phenomenon. Flocks of swifts, also known as Apodidae - highly aerial birds, have built approximately 200 nesting sites on the Maiden Tower. Like swallows, Common Swifts are migratory, and in midsummer they migrate to Azerbaijan, while in winter they travel much further to the Southern Africa. In order to ensure their safety, IDEA members have started a new project, creating simulated nests for these birds, while the renovation works continue on the 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," Aliyeva underlined.
The natural diversity of Azerbaijan, its lakes and rivers, mountains and plains, forests and deserts make my country a unique space. "So when my team and I were contemplating on the slogan for the campaign, we chose the one that unite and call us to action: "One Earth - One Future". We have one planet and one future. And today, we, the young people, have to decide what kind of planet we would like to live on. We, the young people, have to identify what tasks need to be addressed immediately and what should be done to ensure that the future of our children is safe and stable," she said.
"Nature does not tolerate delays or subjunctive mood. That is why the IDEA campaign calls for immediate action. Here, today, we have 85 representatives from 35 countries. This is a third of the globe. It demonstrates that together we are a force!" she added.
"We are gathered in one of the most beautiful locations of Azerbaijan to discuss important global environmental problems and try to find remedies. During the next two days, you will have a chance to listen to interesting reports and be a part of rigorous debates. We would like to make this camp an annual event, and to turn Gabala into a space for dialogue among young people. Trying to understand each other, discussing and outlining prospects for cooperation will make achieving our tasks easier," Aliyeva stressed.
According to Aliyeva, these two days is just the beginning - the beginning of a mission and a path, which we will determine today. "The environmental protection knows no boundaries. It is our common task and each step taken to protect the environment will be our shared success. A success of any undertaking lies in support and collaboration. Its continuation is paved with actions. Our success is possible with international dialogue, and we - the IDEA members, truly hope and believe that you will become our IDEA ambassadors across the globe," she underscored.
The International Camp of Young Environmentalists, which is involved in environmental issues, will complete its work on Saturday. Azerbaijani Ecology and Natural Resources Minister Huseyn Bagirov, Youth and Sport Minister Azad Rahimov, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Azerbaijan Fikret Akcura, SOCAR Vice-President on environmental issues Rafig Huseynzade, Earth Force Organization President and CEO Lisa Bardwell and others are attending the event.