One Earth, One Future – Young Environmentalist Camp in Gabala, Azerbaijan

diplmatic insight

It was year 1953 when James D. Watson and Francis Crick suggested the double helical model of human DNA. They started a trend of interdisciplinary research. According to it, when the people of different field of expertise sit together to discuss a common problem, ideas tend to flourishes and innovation starts to happen.
Going on the similar lines, a 3 day camp of Young Environmentalist has been organized in the beautiful riverside hotel at Gabala, Azerbaijan from 24-27 November 2011. The camp has been organized by IDEA foundation, Azerbaijan which is working in creating awareness among the young people in Azerbaijan. IRELI Youth Foundation and UNEP, Azerbaijan were supporter in organizing this camp. The main theme of discussion ware community engagement, sustainable education and green entrepreneurship. Environmentalist belongs to the different streams (academicians, entrepreneurs, policy makers, students, campaigners) gathered with a common vision, ‘How to save our environment and preserve it for future?’
The 3 day camp has been designed to focus on discussion, networking, recreational activities as well as showing the glimpses of Azerbaijani culture to the 86 participants, panelists, speakers from different corners of the globe. All the participants were arrived in the camp in the snowy weather after witnessing the wonderful hospitality of the organizers at Qafqaz riverside resort hotel, Gabala. I want to emphasize that Gabala is one of the most touristic region of Azerbaijan with full of natural beauty spread all over the place. It has added an extra responsibility to all of us to think about preserving this beauty.
The camp has been kicked off with opening speeches from officials from the Government of Republic of Azerbaijan, UNEP Azerbaijan and other delegates. In her speech Mrs. Leyla Ayliveya, founder of the IDEA campaign, stressed the need of engaging young & enthusiastic people in addressing climate change. She also highlighted some of the work done by IDEA foundation; planning tress around Baku, having environmental camp every year in Gabala etc. Minister of youth & sport stressed upon the term sustainability. He emphasized that last century was known as century of destructions of forest, but future must not be the same. According to him everyone has certain obligations to (scholar, politics, normal citizens) in preserving nature. According to him, ‘Nothing disappears without leaving traces’ and so is the ‘pollution, global warming etc.’.
One of the speakers highlighted the changing weather patterns due to climate change and difficulty in making timely accurate weather predictions. He also highlighted that despite being a young country (close to 20 years of independence), Azerbaijan has been able to engage the young generation in a better way to understand the environment. He stressed that Azerbaijan joined Kyoto protocol, promoting alternative & renewable energy sources in the country as well as reforestation work has been done at a rapid pace.
Going through the themes of the camp, later participants and speakers were divided into 3 groups. One of the discussion group in which I took part was focused on entrepreneurship with specific focus on ‘Young & Green’. It was agreed on the discussion, that 40% of jobs which will be created in future does not exist today. A totally new field is going to emerging in future on the lines of ‘Green Economy’. To face such challenges and in the new field, speakers asked entrepreneurs to keep looking for changes. Focused on the goal and be ethical towards the customer. He reiterated the fact that we always need to address lack of time, resources, indifference- so better to live with it.
After the full day of discussion, every participant has been taken to the Gala Dinner. The evening was a showcase of Azerbaijani music and culture. Famous singers like Khayyam Mustafarzade as well as the Eurovision song contest 2011 winner Eldar & Nigar rocked the evening with their performances. But the star of evening was traditional dance of Azerbaijan. A dance which requires 2 legs to keep moving in a stylish manner with different hand movements come along as the music picks up. The evening witnessed great interest from all the participants trying to know this dance. Food offered was one of the traditional from that region and the cozy environment fostered fruitful discussion between the participants.
Second day of the camp started with presentation on biodiversity in alpine region from WWF and role of UNEP in the climate change. The main attractions of the day were the panel discussions. They were sub divided on the themes; Impact of climate change on young people, energy and resource efficiency, research and development of innovative technologies. In the panel Research and development of new technologies, the main focus was given on the sustainable development research. . It was urged to reduce time taken in administrative procedures, more specialized education and readdressing the curriculum as per the growing needs. Presentation from Frei University, Berlin highlighted different aspects of technological developments. Issues like economic, political, social and legal matters more than just a technological development. In conclusion, it was agreed that sustainability is a very young discipline, requires cross- cutting experience people in future and well defined strategy to go ahead with it in Education.
One of the panelists from Estonian parliament has highlighted some of the best practices followed at government level. Estonia is the first county in the world which has an e-government infrastructure, parliament elections, banking as well bus tickets. People do not need to go and stand in the queue for voting, they can do it using smart phones. Using the new ways of technologies in the administrative sections, engagement of youth is improving day by day. The presentation also highlighted important quotation, ‘how small things can change the world?’ using the campaign ‘Let’s do it’ in 2011. It was an effort by the entire country by mobilizing 50,000 people to clean up the garbage of the country things in a single day.
The evening was full of discussions involving finalization of declaration. This initiative was led by 2 of the participants from Romania. During lunch time, participants on each table were asked to provide their ideas of modification in particular section. Every section has been gathered together and all the participants were involved in discussion before finalization. Ideas, arguments, facts all were taking place to make a common agreement. It was hectic debate but all efforts paid off in the end and it has been passed with rapid applauses from everybody. The declaration asked for the better responsibility from every individual to face the challenge that exists today.
Intercultural night was the attraction of the closing day of the camp. Participants from different counties were asked to bring the traditional food, drinks as well as dressed up in the traditional costumes. We presented our countries by either showing a movie clip, dancing on songs, playing music or by singing. It was full of fun events and in the middle of night, the official cake was cut by IDEA organizers who were very much satisfied after all the hard work they have put in the camp.
Last day of the camp has been dedicated to visit around Gabala and beautiful places. Everyone enjoyed the beauty of nature and pledge to preserve it for the future generation. The camp has been ended with a positive note addressing the need of creating better awareness among the society and promoting green leadership.

Read the full article here:
‘The Diplomatic Insight’ – Jaunary 2012 (Page 21)

Related news
: Young Environmentalist Camp in Azerbaijan

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