Opening Speech by UNDP Resident Representative a.i. Charu Bist at the Plenary Session of “Implementation of Innovative Solutions on Climate Action” Event

August 10, 2021

Photo: UNDP Azerbaijan / Mammad Aliyev

At UNDP, we see climate change as one the defining threats facing the planet today.

Sadly, despite the strong global consensus reached in Paris in 2015, the world is struggling to master this threat.

We don't need to be scientists to see this. 2020 was the hottest year in history and 2021 is well on its way to set a new record.

Global warming is unleashing extreme weather events on every region of the planet with terrifying frequency. 

It’s causing heatwaves, floods, wildfires and droughts, and contributing to the extinction of animals and plants. It’s melting glaciers and raising sea levels.

The cascading effects of climate change are disrupting national economies and affecting the lives of millions of people.

Worse still, those whom are the least responsible and the least able to cope with the effects of climate change are the ones suffering the most; often being forced to leave their homes and even their countries. Poor women and children are especially vulnerable.

A major concern is that the greenhouse gases responsible for climate change, which are already at record highs, are set to keep rising.

If the world doesn’t act decisively and quickly to reverse this trend, we run the risk of dangerously high temperatures and escalating costs.

In an important scientific report released in 2019 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, it became clear that we should do everything possible to try to limit global warming to 1.5℃, or below.

The only way to do that is to stop the rise in greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, and then make deep cuts to become carbon-neutral by 2050. It won’t be easy, but scientists say that it is possible--and that each degree matters, each year matters, and each decision matters.

Last year, UNDP partnered with the University of Oxford and conducted the world’s largest climate survey ever, covering half the world’s population over the age of 14 and 64% of the respondents believe that climate change is a global emergency, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Climate Promise is UNDP’s response to this challenge. Tackling the climate crisis requires that all countries make bold pledges under the Paris Agreement to reduce emissions of the greenhouse gases (GHG) that cause global warming. The Climate Promise is our commitment to ensure that any country wishing to increase the ambition of their national climate pledge is able to do so.

In Azerbaijan


For over 20 years, UNDP has been working closely with the Government of Azerbaijan and national partners to adopt prudent climate change adaptation and mitigation policies, to promote energy efficiency, reduce CO2 emissions and prepare for extreme weather events that climate change brings.

We are currently supporting the preparation of the 4th National Communication, a key document that will spell out the next steps to be taken in all key sectors of the economy and society, at national and local level, to prepare for, adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change.

We are also supporting the Government of Azerbaijan in its efforts to tackle climate change by ensuring the protection of the valuable biodiversity and demonstrating the benefits of investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy sources.

Together with the Ministry of Ecology and National Resources we have had a large programme on sustainable forestry in the Greater Caucasus for several years and a project on marine biodiversity in the Gizilagac natural protected area that resulted in the proclamation of Azerbaijan’s first National Marine Park.

We have also been working with smallholder farmers. A lot of people depend on agriculture here, but traditional farming methods produce lower crop yields, degrade the soil, reduce biodiversity, and impose an unsustainable strain on the region’s scarce water resources. To tackle these challenges, we have an ongoing programme on agro-biodiversity that values and protects Azerbaijan’s own seeds, tomatoes, cucumbers, pomegranates and persimmons. We teach farmers about sustainable agriculture. We are using innovative technology, training courses and small grants to raise farmers’ awareness of more efficient ways to plant, irrigate, fertilise, harvest, store and sell their crops, significantly increasing their productivity and market access.

We also launched recently a new project aimed at helping Azerbaijan to prepare its National Adaptation Plan to Climate Change. Three sectors – water, agriculture and coastal communities – were identified in consultation with our government counterparts as the most vulnerable sectors of the economy.

Together with the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources we had a project with the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR), supporting them in greening their operations. We introduced gas-capturing techniques to turn harmful gases released by oil wells in the mountainous area of Siyazan into clean fuel, that can be used for heating and cooking for over 2,000 people living in remote areas. This project decreased emissions of methane on on-shore oil wells by 20% and helped to reduce deforestation by providing clean heating sources to these mountain villages.

And we are also cooperating with the Ministry of Energy on drafting a key legislation in the energy and alternative energy sectors, which will hopefully provide the legal framework for the growth of an alternative energy market in Azerbaijan.

As for my message for young eco-activists:

I already see so much hope in the inspiring waves of social mobilization by young people here.

From classroom education to community engagement to planting trees and caring about animals and nature.

Young people in Azerbaijan are pushing their elders to do what is right.

And we count on you to keep doing that – to influence parents, classmates, teachers, neighbors and governments to do more and to do better.

Recently, together with the Ministry of Youth and Sports we appointed 17 young SDG ambassadors from Azerbaijan, who will be tasked to promote and raise awareness about the Agenda 2030.

Last month, they already started promoting behavioural change among the country’s citizens in an innovative way -- by partnering with Spatrix – an online platform established by  another group of young Azerbaijanis to tap into the potential of blockchain technology to contribute to the social good.

They’ve been posting recommendations to avoid single-use plastics on their social media channels and by explaining their own collective and individual contributions and truly helped raise awareness about alternatives to use of plastic in a very short period of time.

It is innovative actions like this, coming from young people, that can influence decision-makers and contribute to a greener Azerbaijan for generations to come.

And I truly hope to see more of this.

Thank you.