Vice-President of the Heydar Aliyeva Foundation, initiator of the campaign IDEA, Leyla Aliyeva opened the international conference in Gabala, dedicated to environmental issues.
'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', Leyla Aliyeva said in her welcoming message.
According to her, 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.
The conference on "The role of youth in environmental matters" is held in the picturesque town of Gabala in the north-western mountainous region of Azerbaijan.
"I usually visit Gabala in summer, but now, when everything is covered with snow, this place is even more beautiful", said Leyla Aliyeva.
The meeting was organized within the campaign of International Dialogue on Environmental Action in cooperation with the UN and international youth organizations. The conference was attended by over 100 young environmentalists from 40 countries.
Leyla Aliyeva spoke about the devastating effect of human activities on the ecological balance in nature.
"Expansion of human activities of the past 50-60 years disrupted the ecological balance of the world's flora and fauna”, she said. “Concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached 389 parts per million in 2010 alone. This is a record figure since the start of industrial era in 1750”.
She noted that today a car consumes an average of more than 4 tons of oxygen from the atmosphere, releasing exhaust gases along with about 800 kg. carbon monoxide, 40 kg of nitrogen dioxide, and about 200 kg. of various hydrocarbons.
"One of the main priorities of the campaign IDEA, which we launched in July this year, is greening of Baku and its environs. In line with our campaign slogan - "A young tree for a young soul" , we plan to plant 300 thousand trees before the Global Conference on Sustainable Development, "Rio +20", to be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2012”, said Leyla Aliyeva.
She urged everyone to remember that vegetation is the only source of oxygen on our planet. 25% of the surface of a leaf from a tree on a sunny day produces oxygen sufficient for one person per day. Wooded area of one acre [0.4 ha =] generates a daily oxygen of 18 people.
Leyla Aliyeva also informed the participants and guests about the unique natural features of Azerbaijan.
"Azerbaijan is a site of 9 of the 11 climate zones, which itself is a unique natural phenomenon”, she said, “It is the land of mud volcanoes, mountains with the eternal fire, natural endemic trees, high mountain plateaus, magnificent coastal areas, dense woods, ravines and valleys that creates a dreamlike landscape altogether".
Naturally fenced Goygol Lake, situated at the foot of the Murovdag mountain at a height of 1556 m above the sea, has become a natural habitat for many species of animals and plants in the region, she said.
According to Leyla Aliyeva, IDEA is a logical continuation of initiatives in the field of ecology and environmental protection, which are held in Azerbaijan.
She recalled that 2010 was declared Year of Ecology in the country. Last year, she said, was marked by planting 14 million trees and the opening of many parks throughout the country. The initiator of the campaign spoke of other projects in the field of environment, implemented in Azerbaijan.
"Heydar Aliyeva Foundation, which I am the vice-president of, began a campaign to protect and resettle Azeri gazelles in their natural habitats”, she said. “We get information on the movements of gazelles, thanks to special sensors, several times a day, transmitting signals about their whereabouts”. Protection of endangered species is one of the main objectives of environmentalists, and such species as the Caucasian leopard , the largest subspecies of the leopard, are under threat of extinction, due to a sharp increase in ungulate hunting. The existence of the Caucasian leopard symbolizes the health of the regional ecosystem, she said.
The initiative of another project came unexpectedly.
"The Maiden Tower in Baku - a cultural monument of the 12th century - has always been the pride of our city. During the restoration work we faced a very interesting phenomenon”, she said “ Flocks of swifts set about 200 nests at the Maiden Tower. Like swallows, swifts are migratory birds. In mid-summer, they arrive in Azerbaijan and in winter they fly to South Africa. "In order to ensure the safety of these birds, the campaign launched a new IDEA project to create artificial nests for these birds for the time of the reconstruction works at the Maiden Tower.
IDEA also identified so-called "big five" of the Caucasus - a bear, an eagle, a wolf, a gazelle and a leopard. IDEA seeks to provide a healthy existence of these species. "The natural diversity of Azerbaijan, its lakes and rivers, mountains and plains, forests and deserts make my country a unique place" Aliyeva said.
“So, when my team and I thought about the slogan for the campaign, we chose one that would unite and inspire us to action: "One Earth - One Future." We have one planet and one future, she said, calling on young people, concerned with the future of the planet, to join effort in defining objectives and actions required to ensure stable and secure future for generations to come.
"Nature abhors delay. That's why IDEA campaign calls for urgent action," she said. “Today's conference brings together 85 representatives from 35 countries . This is a third part of the globe, suggesting that together we are a power!” She expressed her intention to make a youth gathering in Gabala, an annual event, which will transform the city into a place of an international dialogue among youth. “The two day conference is just the beginning, the beginning of the path that we define today", Aliyeva said.
“Environmental protection knows no borders. It is our common task, and each step taken to protect the environment will be our common success”.