UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Ghulam Isaczai on the Importance of Climate Action and Current Climate Change Adaptation Practices in Azerbaijan

April 24, 2018

The economic costs of climate-related disasters hit a record $320 billion last year. Picture credits: UNDP

Opening speech at the conference on The Important Role of Hydrometeorology Organisations in the Adaptation to Climate Change

Dear Chairman Mr. Firdovsi Aliyev, Deputy Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources

Mr. Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

Distinguished guests and delegates, representatives of international organizations, state authorities and academia

Ladies and gentlemen,

I want to thank the Ministry of Ecology and WMO for inviting me to speak at this conference.

Let me also take this opportunity to welcome Secretary General  Petteri Taalas to Baku.

Only two days ago, on 22 April, millions of people across the world marked the historic Earth Day.

Earth day has been a reminder to us all to assume collective responsibility for our action, to promote harmony with nature and the Earth and to achieve a just balance among the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations of humanity.

While much has been achieved since the first marking of the earth day in 1970, more needs to be done for the global climate action.

As the UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres has put it, ‘climate change is running faster than we are’.

Unless we implement the Paris Agreement and its commitments, we will not bend the emissions curve, nor achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The information from recent global reports continues to confirm the complexity and urgency of the challenge we face.

Even with the pledges made under the Paris Agreement, global temperatures could still rise by up to 3.4°C this century, forcing people to adapt to extreme new weather patterns.

The State of Climate Change report issued by WMO confirms that the economic costs of climate-related disasters hit a record: $320 billion last year.

Climate change is not simply about environment. It affects people’s lives and the state of wellbeing of each country financially, economically and demographically.

The World Bank’s Groundswell report shows that climate change has already emerged as a major driver of migration worldwide.

And the International Energy Agency reports that energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rose 1.4 per cent last year to 32.5 gigatonnes -- a historic high.

Looking at the global state of environment affairs, it is becoming increasingly clear that climate action is urgently needed.

Here,  in Azerbaijan we are encouraged by the Government’s actions to meet its international obligations and putting in place appropriate policy and institutional frameworks to support environmental action.

Azerbaijan ratified the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1995 and two years ago joined the landmark Paris Agreement.  In 2000, Azerbaijan joined the Kyoto Protocol as a non-Annex I country.

As part of its international commitments under these instruments, Azerbaijan ensures regular reporting of climate change related trends and developments in the form of national communications and biennial update reports.

While Azerbaijan is not a major contributor to greenhouse gas emission, it has committed to a 35% reduction target in the level of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 as part of its commitment under the Paris Climate Agreement.

It has also committed to 20% target of generating electricity from renewable energy by 2020 thus reducing its reliance on fossil fuel for its energy production and consumption.

Despite these efforts, Azerbaijan is highly vulnerable to climate change given its coastal Caspian Sea location and scarce freshwater resources.  Around 43% of its territory is affected by land erosion, and 20% by salinization. 

In this respect, UNDP is pleased to be assisting the Government of Azerbaijan in its climate action focusing on Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation. Let me mention a couple of examples in this regard.

Under the Adaptation framework, UNDP with GEF financing has been closely working with the Ministry of Emergency Situations on minimising the vulnerability of the mountain communities of the Greater Caucuses region to climate change induced water stress and flood hazards through improved water and flood management.

This intervention has improved the level of community resilience to floods and water stress.

In the area of Mitigation, UNDP with GEF financing have been partnering with Azerbaijan’s State Oil Company (SOCAR) to reduce carbon emission in transport sector, implement green architecture in building designs and to provide rural communities with access to cleaner fuels from associated gas captured during oil production.

In partnership with the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, UNDP is currently finalising its Second Biennial Updated Report (SBUR) and have started implementation of the Fourth National Communication (FNC).

Moreover, since environmental protection is at the forefront of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, we are also encouraged by Azerbaijan’s firm commitment to nationalization of the SDGs.

It has established the National Coordination Council on SD under the chairmanship of the Deputy Prime Minister and submitted its first National Voluntary Review report to the High Level Political Forum in NY.

With UN support, the Government has also adopted the MAPS methodology, which has identified environment and climate action as one of the three accelerators for SDGs achievement.

Furthermore, the MAPs report recommended that in order to accelerate achievement of the SDGs, Azerbaijan will need to: (i) increase investments in energy efficiency; (ii) achieve renewable energy targets and invest in new technologies, (iii)  diversify its economy and adopt greener growth strategy.

Once again – thank you for the opportunity to speak and share a few thoughts with you.   

Diqqetinize gore teshekkur edirem!