11-03-2011, 10:02, Saw: 457

The protection and maintenance of natural systems, supporting their integrity and viable functions and improving their quality for the sustainable development of communities, as well as ensuring human health and regional ecological safety is main part of environmental policy of Azerbaijan Rural Investment Project.

Environmental Workshops are clear indicators of AzRIP's environmental policy and highlight the protection and restoration of environment - the most valuable component of our national resource, decrease of environmental pollution, environmental awareness and education issues during the development, discussion, approval and implementation of priority projects in the sustainable development of regional infrastructures. The conferences held for public disclosure of the "Environmental Management Plan for AzRIP-2" were successfully conducted and proved the importance of these series of events once again. The conference brought together the representatives of partner communities, local Executive Committees and municipalities, regional departments of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources and NGOs.

Environmental Workshop took place in Ismayilly town of Northern zone on March 10, 2011. AzRIP Deputy Director and Community Development/Capacity Enhancement Manager Gulbaniz Ganbarova opened the workshop and made presentation on the "World Bank Environmental Policy".

- Funding for large-scale Second Azerbaijan Rural Investment Project (AzRIP-2) is intended by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) based on the agreement between the Government of Azerbaijan and the World Bank. Realization of this funding is planned in all rayons of the country including 11 new rayons which are not currently covered by existing economic zones of AzRIP. While there are environmentally sensitive areas (such as National Parks, State Protected Areas) within new economic zones of the project, AzRIP-2 Environmental Management Plan has been developed to improve decision-making in the selection of community projects. The objective of Environmental Workshops this time is to disclose Environmental Management Plan to the general public. This plan provides the framework to address environmental considerations of the Community Projects financed under AzRIP-2.

She mentioned about the great efforts of the National Leader Heydar Aliyev in establishing relationships with the World Bank, the most reliable financial institution worldwide and spoke about the great impacts of such projects on socio-economic development of the country:

Environmental Strategy holds important place in the operation of the World Bank. This mission of the World Bank is called "Green Development" which is carried out in collaboration with "International Finance Corporation", "Multi-credit Guarantee Agency" and "Official Development Support Agency" under it. This strategy includes the components: "Formation of new plant species and vegetation development", "Vegetation development and involvement of national resources for poverty reduction", "Management of potential negative impacts - environmental risks during the project implementation".

Next speaker was the Deputy Head of Ismayilli rayon Executive Committee on socio-economic issues, Rovshan Aghayev:

- Protection of environmental balance in the projects implemented in the area is always under the control. Air pollution has been stopped thanks to the environmental risk mitigation actions taken, particularly with the help of "Domestic waste dumpsite". So, previously dumpsite had occupied 30 hectares area in rayon. 25 ha out of this area was cleaned and turned to polygon and only 5 ha is now used for disposal - cleaning and sort out of domestic wastes.

Deputy Head of Aghsu rayon Ex.Com on socio-economic issues, Igbal Mikayilov also spoke about the environment-related activities in Aghsu and environmental protection measures taken during the implementation of AzRIP funded "Potable Water Supply" project. He added that human health is closely connected with social and ecological welfare.

The workshop continued with the speech of AzRIP Program Specialist (for Northern zone) Akif Kerimli:

- Environmental protection and ensuring human health and regional environmental safety has exceptional place in Azerbaijan Rural Investment Project. Protection of natural systems and maintenance of environment in proper quality, increased responsibility for healthy environment in the communities, urgency of ecosystem related issues in the implementation of social infrastructure projects makes main direction and approaches of AzRIP environmental policy.

A. Kerimli spoke about the attention paid to environmental protection during the implementation of AzRIP funded community projects and emphasized close involvement and support of government structures and bodies in these processes.

Then, Firdovsi Javadov - the Chairman of "Democracy Learning" Public Union made speech on the worldwide attention to environment and actions to solve problems existing in this sphere. He emphasized that reasonable location of farming, regional and local infrastructures from ecological point of view, maximum use of internal opportunities and specifications are main parts of regional ecological policy and informed about the work of NGOs working in this sector in Azerbaijan.

AzRIP Environmental consultant, Candidate of Technical Sciences Telman Zeynalov made presentation on "AzRIP-2 Environmental Management Plan":

Key considerations to be taken into account during the Environmental Assessment process of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) Safeguards Policy include generic initial screening to determine appropriate environmental assessment, compliance with existing environmental regulations and law on State national parks, reserves and protected areas in Azerbaijan, linkages with social assessment, analysis of alternatives, public participation and consultation with affected people and organizations and disclosure of information. Pilot micro-projects will be implemented including support services for income generation and livelihood strengthening, establishing farmer associations, collectively cultivated lands for the agricultural development and environmental protection. Specific environmental training will be provided to enhance the capacity of involved stakeholders in environmental management of community projects' development and implementation; wastes generated at the fields will be carefully managed during Community Project design.

T. Zeynalov provided detailed information about the implementation stages of Environmental Assessment, organizational mechanisms, potential environmental impacts of AzRIP community projects, specially protected areas including nature reserves, wildlife refuges and national parks. Then he introduced the participants with the state order on the "Approval of State Program on the use of alternative and restorable energy sources in Azerbaijan Republic" signed by the President of Azerbaijan Republic, Mr. Ilham Aliyev on October 22, 2004 in order to ensure formation of new energy powers based on existing alternative and restorable energy sources in the country, as well as benefit from the world experience.

- Due to the insufficiency of hydrocarbon reserves being a traditional energy source and in order to prevent environmental pollution, it is necessary to increase the volume of energy derived from alternative and restorable energy sources worldwide. There are best practices in this field and use of solar, wind and other clean and restorable energy sources is continuously increasing in many countries. Sufficient alternative and restorable energy potential of Azerbaijan enables to fully use it.

T. Zeynalov then provided information about the environmental books and brochures published, and natural disasters happening in our country and in the world (flood, landslide, earthquake, wind and snow storms); as well as informed that worldwide 245 disasters (224 are related with natural factors) has been recorded by the World Health Organization in 2009.

The conference was continued with the discussion of the presentation on "AzRIP-2 Environmental Management Plan" and questions-answers session. The conference participants addressed their questions to Telman Zeynalov:

Question: Firdovsi Javadov - "Democracy Learning" Public Union Chairman

- What will be general view of the potential environmental impact of AzRIP community projects?

Answer: Telman Zeynalov - AzRIP Environmental consultant

- AzRIP community projects may include rural roads, water supply, sewerage, electric supply, small bridges, small-scale irrigation systems, schools and kindergartens, health centers, community centers etc. There are environmentally sensitive areas in the planned new economic zones of AzRIP: 5 nature reserves, 7 wildlife preserves and the Shahdag National Park. Implementation of community projects in these areas is strictly prohibited without "Environmental Protection" plan. Projects can be implemented in Shahdagh National Park only after getting written permission from the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources. It is allowed to implement only some of the above-mentioned projects in protected areas and Shahdagh National Park. Special permission document has to be obtained for implementing potable water, artesian and sub-artesian wells, intra- and inter-village roads and other agriculture related projects in protected areas and Shahdagh National Park.

Question: Bahruz Isayev - Ismayilli rayon, Galinchag community CPC chairman

- What is included in the environmental screening which is one of the steps of Environmental Assessment Implementation?

Answer: Telman Zeynalov - AzRIP Environmental consultant

- Each applicant community will undertake an initial environmental screening of the proposed Community Project and will assign an environmental category.

Question: Almaz Isayeva - Ismayilli rayon, Galinchag community CPC member

- What could be after-effects of natural systems degradation?

Answer: Telman Zeynalov - AzRIP Environmental consultant

- Continued degradation of natural systems means breach of biosphere stability and loss of ability to maintain its integrity and necessary quality for life.

Questions-answers discussion was followed by a film about environment. Conference was finalized with evaluation session and closing speech of G. Ganbarova.

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