November 25, 2011

Opening of an international camp of young ecologists in Gabala

International camp of young ecologists organized by International Dialogue for Environmental Action – IDEA under the motto “The role of youth in ecological management: today and tomorrow” started in Gabala, November 25.

Vice-President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, founder of IDEA Leyla Aliyeva delivered a speech at the opening ceremony.

Speech by Leyla Aliyeva:

- Ladies and gentlemen!

Dear friends!

I am very glad to greet you in Gabala. Gabala is one of the most beautiful and historical places in Azerbaijan. Actually, I visit Gabala in summer, spend a lot of time on a lake and in forest. And now Gabala is much more beautiful when all around is covered with snow.

Today, the international camp of young ecologists has been organized here by the International Dialogue for Environment Action and UNDP in order to promote the dialogue, discuss necessary environment issues and build relations between the present and future generations.

We live in difficult times when it is hard to ignore environmental problems. The attempt to overestimate the current situation depends on us, young people. Environmental problems associated with climate change, increased carbon emissions, increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, processes in the oceans, drought and humanitarian crisis in different parts of the world cannot leave the younger generation indifferent.

I would to continue my speech with statistics. 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.

Therefore, one of the main priorities of the IDEA, which we announced in July this year, is to plant trees and vegetation around Baku. We have started the campaign under the 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.

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. 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.

IDEA is a logical continuation of what is being implemented in Azerbaijan in the field of environmental protection and ecology. The year 2010 was declared the Year of Ecology in Azerbaijan. Indeed, in 2010, there were 14 million trees planted around the country, dozens of new parks opened.

The Heydar Aliyev Foundation, in which I serve as a vice-president, has launched the campaign to protect and resettle the Azerbaijani gazelles in their natural habitats. We receive information on the movements of gazelles, special collars of which 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.

Another project we are developing at the moment started during the restoration of Maiden Tower, the 12th century cultural monument in Baku. 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. IDEA 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.

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. Nature does not tolerate delays or subjunctive mood. That is why IDEA 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.

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. 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.

Dear friends!

I have no doubt that this campaign will be successful thanks to the efforts made by the youth not indifferent and eager for changes. I hope IDEA will make its contribution to the protection of our planet. I thank you all for having come to Azerbaijan. I hope you will enjoy having time in our country and discover something new and enigmatic for yourself. I wish happiness, success and health to all you. 

Thank you so much.