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Huseyn Bagirov


The Crater Good

Minister of Ecology & Natural Resources, Azerbaijan


After studying in both Baku and Moscow, Huseyn Bagirov became a full professor in 1990 and served as the Rector of Western University in Baku in 1992. In 1998, he was a Fulbright Professor at Indiana University. From 2000 to 2001, he served as Minister of Trade before assuming his current post as Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources. In addition to serving as Minister, he was elected President of the Air and Extreme Sports Federation of Azerbaijan in 2005 and has served in that role ever since.

What success has the Ministry had in furthering environmental protection in the country? The Republic of Azerbaijan has achieved dramatic positive changes in the area of social and economic development. […]

What success has the Ministry had in furthering environmental protection in the country?

The Republic of Azerbaijan has achieved dramatic positive changes in the area of social and economic development. The country’s environmental strategy is aimed at preserving natural resources at the national, regional, and international levels through the application of scientifically substantiated development principles and the sustainable use of Azerbaijan’s economic and human resources. Through our work, we aim to meet the interests of existing and future generations by enhancing the coordination of activities in the area of environmental protection. Having achieved independence and adopted a market economy, the national environmental policy regarding environmental protection started to evolve with a new spirit in the Republic of Azerbaijan. One of the main documents of reference regarding national environmental policy is the Environmental Concept of the Republic of Azerbaijan, which was developed under sustainable development principles. The concept reflects the main guidelines for the resolution of pressing issues in terms of protecting the environment. The main objective of Azerbaijan’s environmental policy is to ensure sustainable development through the protection of existing eco systems and economic capacity, and the efficient use of natural resources in order to meet the needs of the current and future generations. In order to achieve this objective, efficient ways to best utilize natural resources should be developed and economic development should be ensured with sustainability in mind.

What are the main priorities of Azerbaijan’s environmental policy?

The first priority is to utilize modern methods based on the principles of sustainable development in order to regulate environmental protection and minimize pollution. The second priority is the efficient use of natural resources in order to meet the needs of existing and future generations, all while developing renewable energy sources and achieving energy efficiency. The third priority is the assessment of national requirements in regard to global environmental problems, the identification of ways to resolve such problems, the broadening of cooperation with international organizations, and the implementation of environmental policies through the utilization of national capacity.

To what extent does the Ministry collaborate with foreign institutions on national and global environmental issues?

As a manifestation of environmental polices in the Republic of Azerbaijan, we oversaw the development of relevant legislative framework in accordance with European standards, the improvement of the state environmental management system, and the gradual realization of priority projects through broadened ties with international organizations. Furthermore, augmented efforts aimed at the promotion of the environment among the public and an increased amount of classroom time on issues related to the protection of the environment and ecology in secondary schools are essential. A number of laws on environmental protection adopted by parliament over recent years have created immense opportunities for filling existing gaps in this area. The Ministry of Ecology & Natural Resources puts special emphasis on broadening ties with international organizations and donor countries for the resolution of current problems. Hence, cooperation with UNDP, UNEP, NATO, the Global Environment Facility, the OECD, the Economic Cooperation Organization, the Asian Development Bank, and the WWF, as well as other organizations, continues at pace. Furthermore, bilateral ties are being established with developed countries based on relevant agreements. Joining international conventions in the area of environmental protection is also a priority. Azerbaijan is party to 20 international environmental conventions.

What is the extent of Azerbaijan’s mineral resources?

Azerbaijan is a resource-rich country that boasts 867 deposits of industrial importance, including 61 ore reserves, 126 with non-ore resources, 579 deposits with materials used in construction, and 101 units of underground water resources. The efficient use of water resources for the improvement of human welfare is an integral part of socio-economic reforms. Successful results have been achieved in the exploration of subsoil for raw material supply. Thanks to successful policies implemented by the President, the wide application of modern technologies and the upgrading of mining equipment has become a reality. Resources from 192 different deposits have been added to the balance over the past 10 years in 25 regions of Azerbaijan. Relevant measures were also implemented in 2013 by the Ministry of Ecology & Natural Resources for the exploration and prospecting for mineral deposits, which, all in all, has secured the long-term prospects of the mining sector. Today, domestic demand for construction materials and non-ore raw materials is fully covered by the newly discovered deposits. Demand for materials also forms the basis of our short-to long-term exploration plans. The demand for materials in the construction sector is also regulated by state programs on socio-economic development. Compliance with environmental requirements is strictly observed at all mining sites, and monitoring is carried out to assess waste management, and the condition of soil, air, and water. Scientific research and staff capacity are the main factors behind the success we have achieved in natural resources exploration. The Institute of Raw Materials under the Ministry of Ecology & Natural Resources is responsible for studying strategically important mineral resources and preparing relevant strategic documents. Joint activities on the application of environmental science-based technologies are carried out within the framework of cooperation with international organizations.

Can you give specific examples of actions the Ministry has undertaken to prevent deforestation?

The particular attention paid by the country’s leadership to environmental protection has provided a great impetus to preservation-related initiatives. Large-scale environmental works have been successfully carried out with positive and tangible results. A significant number of large-scale green projects have been realized in the arid zones of Baku and the Absheron peninsula. More than 3,472 trees were planted over an area of 3,322 hectares, and modern drip irrigation systems provided. This irrigation system was installed on 9,000 kilometers of road characterized as semi-desert and arid. Up to 845,000 olive saplings were also planted in various regions covering an area of 1,384 hectares. And in order to boost effectiveness in such areas, a modern desalination plant has been constructed with a total daily capacity of 20 cubic meters. The resulting desalinated sea water has been used for the irrigation of green areas. Furthermore, another desalination unit with a capacity of 2,500 cubic meters per day was installed in the Shirvan channel for the irrigation of roadside greenery.

How do you anticipate the country’s environmental strategy developing in the medium term?

Based on statistics covering environmental projects carried out over the past decade, it’s clear to see that we have seen great success alongside economic growth. The rapid development of the economy as well as the successful implementation of the national oil strategy has created excellent opportunities for tackling environmental problems. The government’s environmental policy is aimed at ensuring the rights of people to live in a healthy environment. The up-to-date and flexible management of environmental issues is the result of the wise and purposeful policy pursued by the President. To better solve issues arising from the Azerbaijan 2020: Vision of the Future development concept, a state program on the improvement of the environment and the rational use of natural resources in 2014-2020 has been prepared. This document analyzes achievements in the field of environmental protection and institutional change, and underlines the tasks to be implemented over the coming years. The implementation of measures outlined in the program is based on progressive methods and the principles of sustainable development.



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