BAKU, 23 September 2021 – In a recent interview with the Trend News Agency, Stephan Sicars, Managing Director at UNIDO’s Directorate of Managing Director of Environment and Energy, has answered questions about Azerbaijan’s economy and the environment.
Sicars told Trend that Azerbaijan’s CO2 and energy productivity, though highest among countries in the region, remains below European Union levels, indicating room for further improvement in energy efficiency and production processes. He said reducing the environmental footprint of the heavy industries which dominate Azerbaijan’s economy will help to reduce significant pressures on the environment.
"Currently, welfare costs associated with air pollution by fine particles represent about 5% of GDP equivalent in Azerbaijan, compared to 3.8% on average in the European Union. The mean population exposure to fine particles (PM2.5) is two times higher than the level recommended in World Health Organization guidelines," Sicars said.
Climate change, resulting from spiralling global greenhouse gas emissions, is a serious cause for concern, not least the impact of higher temperatures on evaporation and the subsequent lower level of the Caspian Sea - Azerbaijan has an 850-kilometer coastline, Sicars added.
The government’s strategic economic policy document, Azerbaijan 2020: Look into the future, integrates environmental concerns, recognizes ecological problems from oil extraction among the major challenges, and sets a target "...to achieve sustainable socio-economic development from an ecological point of view". And, earlier this year, the authorities approved Azerbaijan 2030: National Priorities on Socio-Economic Development, in which one of the five priorities for the next decade is "a clean environment and a country of green growth."
UNIDO is part of the European Union for Environment (EU4Environment) Programme, launched in 2019, supporting the efforts of Azerbaijan, as well as five other EU Eastern partner countries, to preserve natural capital and increase people’s environmental well-being. UNIDO’s focus is on mainstreaming resource efficiency and circular economy practices in the industrial sector in Azerbaijan, aiming to demonstrate and unlock further opportunities for greener growth.