The roundtable entitled “Sustainable Development and Ecological Civilization” at the Fourth Baku International Humanitarian Forum was co-chaired by Academician Urkhan Alakbarov, the Rector of the Academy of Public Administration under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan; Professor Robert Laughlin, Nobel Prize winner (USA); Professor George Smoot, Nobel Prize winner (USA); and Arnold Rüütel, the former President of the Republic of Estonia.
Academician Urkhan Alakbarov opened the roundtable with introductory remarks and welcomed the participants to the event. He emphasized the significance of the Fourth Baku International Humanitarian Forum and mentioned the exceptional support provided by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, to its organization. He also recalled that all the keynote speakers, in particular UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, regardless of the fields they represented, had drawn attention in their statements and speeches to the significance of sustainable development. Mr Alakbarov highlighted the special role and activities of public organizations, particularly the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, alongside state-run entities in addressing sustainable development and ecological civilization. He further mentioned that 40 participants from 20 countries, including two Nobel prize-winners – Professor Robert Laughlin and Professor George Smoot – were participating in the roundtable.
The roundtable discussions on “Sustainable development and ecological civilization” concerned mainly three fields:
Next to take the floor was Professor George Smoot who expressed his pleasure at participating in the Forum. The Nobel prize-winner stressed the importance of sustainable development for the world. Underscoring that development needs a long time, the speaker said both developed and developing countries should prioritize a sustainable development model.
Nobel Prize-winning physicist Robert Laughlin began his speech by saying that sustainable development should come first in all countries. He emphasized the importance of incorporating good governance practices into ecological civilization. Professor Laughlin also said that it is the problem of governance to protect the environment and turn it into a beautiful place to live, yet a solution to the problem requires knowledge, patience and attention.
Next, the participants started discussions on “Good governance practices in fostering sustainable development and ecological civilization”. The moderators of these discussions were the President of the European Foundation for the Sustainable Development of the Regions (FEDRE), Claude Haegi, and the Director General of the Institute of Public Administration for Turkey and the Middle East (TODAIE), Professor Aslan Onur Ender.
Professor Ender first of all expressed his deep and sincere gratitude to the organizers of the Forum. In his report on “the role of institutions of public administration in fostering sustainable development”, he emphasized the huge role played by the institutions in capacity building for sustainable development.
The roundtable heard a report entitled “Good governance practices for sustainable development and ecological civilization: lessons to be learned from Azerbaijan” given by Academician Urkhan Alakbarov. The speaker drew attention to the importance of sustainable development and ecological civilization as the only way to overcome humanitarian threats. Comparing the per-capita GDP growth in 2003-2013 with G-7 and G-20 major economies based on reports from the World Bank, the United Nations and other international development organizations, he drew attention to the fact that Azerbaijan outstrips these countries in terms of development rate. Underscoring that Azerbaijan has created an economic base for sustainable development over the past 10 years, the academician noted that our country also outstrips a number of countries in those groups in terms of GDP per unit of energy use. The speaker noted that Azerbaijan in 2014 outstripped most of the G-20 economies according to the Gini coefficient and quintile share ratio, falling behind only a few countries, such as Canada and Germany. At the end of his speech, Urkhan Alakbarov said that this success stems from good governance and combined work of institutions of public administration, civil society and the private sector. He stressed that this work is founded on education and knowledge and briefed the participants on the teaching and preparation of textbooks in the field of sustainable development in Azerbaijan.
The floor was given next to the Professor of Public Policy and Administration, Carleton University, Leslie A. Pal. He began by expressing his appreciation to the organizers of the Forum. Touching upon sustainable development and good governance on a global scale, he spoke about organizing good governance in the ecological sphere. In this respect, the speaker welcomed efforts towards developing good governance standards in ecology and the environment initiated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and talked about the concept of “Green Development”. He noted the importance of a number of documents adopted by the OECD and went on to say that although the OECD is an international economic organization of 34 countries, the programmes also extend to other international organizations and non-OECD member countries. The speaker also emphasized the significance of social development and the existence of the appropriate regulatory policy, tax policy (for example, carbon tax) and innovations with a view to achieving good governance in the field of sustainable development, and mentioned Azerbaijan’s successful policy in this regard.
The President of the National Academy for Public Administration under the President of Ukraine (NAPA), Yuri Kovbasyuk, extended his deepest gratitude to the Organizational Committee for creating such an environment for scientific exchanges. Touching upon challenges of globalization for the XXI Century, he elaborated on challenging problems, including but not limited to, terrorism, migration, advances in technologies as well as their relationship with sustainable development. Professor Kovbasyuk also said that emerging global challenges not only call for a change in management approaches, but also cultural transformation occurrences and underlined the importance of the Forum in this respect. Mr Kovbasyuk also mentioned that it was necessary to approach leadership in the context of state civil services.
The Head of the Department of International Problems of Nature Management and Ecology, Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), Ruslan Aliyev, started his speech greeting participants on behalf of MGIMO experts and expressing his gratitude to everyone who worked for the organization of the event. Drawing attention to three main principles on sustainable development – economic development, social development and environmental protection, the speaker mentioned that human capacity is the key driving force among these issues. Noting that a department created at the Moscow State Institute trains specialists to manage these issues, Mr Aliyev caused participants to focus on the fact that environmental awareness, education, and training of future generations are key to securing economic development.
Member of the National Disaster Management Authority (India), Muzaffar Ahmad, who joined discussions around the topic, also expressed his thanks to the organizers of the event. He spoke about the problems facing India, such as population growth and rapid urbanization, land use planning, natural disasters, etc, and their relationship with sustainable development. Underscoring the significance of both domestic and regional cooperation in handling these problems, he drew attention to the necessity of involving non-governmental organizations, the private sector and civil society, alongside state-run entities in these processes.
Professor of Ankara University, Cemal Talug, took the floor and firstly expressed his sincere gratitude to the organizers of the Forum. Mentioning the growing population throughout the world, Professor Talug focused on nutrition and poverty issues. Speaking about the problems caused by urbanization, he drew attention to the seriousness of the problems, such as a decrease in the number of the people living in remote areas, higher percentages of older people, as well as the loss of arable land and dryness. He underlined the need for sustainable development to solve these problems and the importance of agriculture in this regard.
The President of the European Foundation for the Sustainable Development of the Regions (FEDRE), Claude Haegi, extended his thanks to the organizers and briefly spoke about FEDRE. Touching upon global warming, he underlined FEDRE’s support for regional initiatives in this area and very much appreciated the changes occurring in the fields of technological innovation, sustainable development, as well as industry.
Senior Advisor to the Vice President of Islamic Republic of Iran, Ali Mojtahed Shabestari, started his speech expressing his pleasure at visiting Baku for the second time. Professor Shabestari said that the environmental crises the world is facing are associated with technology and ethics, while some species of animals are on the verge of extinction because of human indifference to environmental ethics. He mentioned that the share of developed countries in environmental pollution is significant, adding that third-world countries have a chance to extrapolate and at least not to repeat previous mistakes. The speaker underscored the role of civil society, non-governmental organisations and media in raising environmental awareness among the population. Towards the end, Mr Shabestari noted that it is impossible to achieve sustainable development without shaping an ethical framework of development.
After the break, the section “Human capacity building for sustainable development” was declared open. The moderators of the section were John Lawrence, Adjunct Professor of the School of International & Public Affairs Columbia University (USA); Mohammad Reza Pour Mohammadi, Chancellor of the University of Tabriz (Iran); Giorgio Bartolomucci, Secretary General of the Diplomacy Festival (Italy); and Ion Robu, former ambassador of Moldova to the Republic of Azerbaijan.
The floor was given to Mohammad Reza Pour Mohammadi. He began by expressing his thanks to the organizers of the Forum. Speaking about environmental sustainability, the speaker brought to the attention of the participants the importance of slashing emissions to around zero instead of reducing them. He noted that global movement is key to changing the ecological civilisation. Mr Mohammadi also said that we have to decide to either create ecological civilization or continue human annihilation, it is high time to choose an option and we all must seek to protect the environment.
Next to take the floor was Giorgio Bartolomucci who congratulated the Government of Azerbaijan on the occasion of this event. According to him, sustainable development, like democracy and globalization, is one of the important concepts in modern times. He called it risky to entangle the terms “Sustainable Development” and “Good Environmental Governance”.
Expressing his gratitude for the high-level organization of the Forum, Professor Ion Robu noted the vitality of sustainable development for resource-poor countries, including Moldova. He also said the realization of the “Moldova 2020 – National Development Strategy” is in progress, adding that Moldova will set up sustainable socio-economic development and reduce poverty through this Strategy.
Touching upon in his presentation “transforming black gold into human capital”, Professor John Lawrence recalled the speech made by President Ilham Aliyev at the opening of the Forum. He called to benefit from human, in particular youngsters’ energy, instead of natural resources as energy by drawing attention to the necessity of creating conditions for young people. Mr Lawrence appreciated the environment created in Azerbaijan for education of young people abroad, and that for increasing employment. He also mentioned that Azerbaijan, which managed to transform the “black gold” into “human gold”, is able to set the example within South-South Cooperation (SSC).
Professor of the Department of International Law at the Institute of International Relations, National Aviation University (Ukraine), Arif Guliyev, first of all expressed his deep and sincere gratitude to the organizers of the Forum for the inclusion of such important issues into the agenda for discussions. He brought to the attention of the participants the fact that the Forum coincides with the date when Heydar Aliyev was elected the President of the Azerbaijan Republic on October 3, 1993. Professor Guliyev praised Azerbaijan’s development regardless of occupation of its lands. Focusing on effective use of natural resources, the speaker glamorized international documents adopted by the United Nations (UN), including the Heydar Aliyev Foundation’s activities relating to ecological safety and protection of cultural heritage. Mentioning that it is necessary to raise public awareness, provide training to expand the ecological culture, and shape a new mode of thinking with a view to ensuring ecological safety, he underlined the significance of learning related practices in foreign countries.
The next speaker was Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, President of the Center for Russian Environmental Policy, Vladimir Zakharov. He started his speech extending his appreciation to the Organizational Committee for inviting him to the Forum. Sharing his views with the participants around the topic “Modern Priorities of Development: Economy, Ecology and Culture”, Mr Zakharov mentioned that as economy, ecology and culture are interrelated, they form the core of his presentation by stating that sustainable development, green economy, ecology and culture are issues of looking for new ways. In his view, there is a need to tackle social problems first, then ecological problems, so is the human that is at the heart of these issues. The speaker noted that sustainable development will be possible after poverty ends across the world. Drawing attention to practical measures in this field, the speaker touched upon national reports on sustainable development, ecologization of economics, movement for sustainable development (social forum, sustainable development institutions, and corporate liability), culture, etc.
President of the Russia-based Center for Study of Complex Problems of Natura and Environmental Management, Elena Bazileva, expressed her gratitude for the high-level organization of the Forum. She mentioned that personal development, economic growth and environmental protection are the backbones of sustainable development. Speaking about experiences gained at the Center she run, the speaker mentioned that key in this field is to provide better education to students in order to promote human development in the future. The floor was given next to Ph.D. in neuroscience Marie-Pierre Deiber. Expressing her pride in participating in the Forum, the speaker underscored the importance of providing humanity with the most favourable conditions and keeping watch over negative impacts of the latest technologies in order to secure the existence of subsequent generations.
Head of the Scientific Organizational Department, the Academy of Public Administration under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Rajab Rahimli, who participated in the discussions, said that ecological civilization is to be comprehended as a single system, while environmental pollution and use of natural resources as its subsystems. Attaching particular importance to management, in particular personnel management in fostering sustainable development, the speaker noted the necessity of training two types of personnel: those implementing policy making mechanisms and state civil service employees. Mr. Rahimli said that local decision making is carried out by civil service employees and false delivery of a proper decision to the population may disable its feedback.
Professor Rovshan Khalilov, who took the floor after Rajab Rahimli, and welcomed the participants to the event, touched upon fostering sustainable development and shaping human intellectual capacity. Speaking about the impact of the latest technologies on sustainable development and the role of nanotechnology in human society, the speaker said that globally there is huge current investment in nanotechnology, which is being developed very rapidly. He went on to add that Azerbaijan has started staff training for nanotechnology, nanochemistry, nanobiology and nanophysics, which make up the main content of nanoscience and nanotechnology.
After the break, the co-chairman of the roundtable Urkhan Alakbarov opened the section “The role of civil society and media in putting into practice the concept of sustainable development” and gave the floor to one of the moderators of the section Christos Zouros, Founder and head of “Earth” organization (Greece).
Christos Zouros briefly welcomed the participants and started with the phrase “The major problem we are facing is us” Kary Banks Mullis, Nobel Prize Winner in Chemistry, used during the Forum. The speaker emphasized that the crisis we are facing is lack of our knowledge how to transform the world through sustainable development. As a way out, the speaker underlined the importance of learning ways how to consume less. According to him, as the education system is not international and uniform, it is difficult to start from education, but instead, it is necessary to start from simple things. He drew attention to the fact that the other concept for sustainable development is collective intelligence, and one of the objectives of the Forum is to unload this process.
Bektemir Murzubraimov, Member of the Academy of Sciences of Kyrgyzstan, President of the Assembly of Peoples of Kyrgyzstan, who joined the discussions appreciated Azerbaijan in successfully implementing policies, especially in the field of environmental management, adding that this Forum proves it. Stressing that sustainable development and environmental safety cannot be separated from each other, the speaker said that they are an integral part of each country’s ecosystem.
Chingiz Ismailov, Head of Department, the Academy of Public Administration under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, made a presentation titled “The Role of NGOs in Securing Sustainable Development”. Stressing the role of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in shaping democratic principles of public administration and civil society, the speaker mentioned that their activity encompasses all spheres of public life. Among the funds contributing to NGOs development in Azerbaijan the speaker named the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, “IDEA” Public Union, Azerbaijani Culture Foundation, Youth Foundation, etc. Professor Chingiz Ismailov expressed his strong belief that reforms carried out in the country will give an impetus to the NGOs activity and have a significant impact on sustainable development in Azerbaijan.
Andrey Avramenko, PhD in Economics, Associate Professor of the Chair for International Complex Problems of Nature Management and Ecology at Moscow State Institute of International Relations, made a presentation on the theme of “The Ecological Measure of Corporate Social Liability”. The speaker drew the attention of participants to the launch of research activity and ecological awareness alongside special programs for sustainable development at both bachelor and master’s degree levels.
Speaking about the concept of corporate social liability, the speaker adverted to human capacity, ecological education and culture. Mr Avramenko underscored the importance of analysing ecological ethics, ecological politology, historical ecology, etnoecology from the methodological point of view.
Valeriy Neronov, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russian Academy of Sciences. Russian Committee for the UNESCO Program on Man and the Biosphere, who took the floor after Andrey Avramenko, extended his gratitude to the Organizational Committee for inviting him to the Forum and reiterated the significance of holding such events. The speaker briefly informed about the IV All-Russian Congress for Environmental Protection as 2013 had been announced the Year of Ecological Culture and Environmental Protection in Russia. Speaking about the book “Ecology and Sustainable Development” by Azerbaijani scientist Nizami Mammadov, the speaker commented that Azerbaijan today is an example for the whole Caucasus. He proposed that Azerbaijan initiate to create an Association for Environmental Protection.
The floor was given next to Jamaluddin Husain, Professor at Purdue University (USA), who expressed his satisfaction at participating in the Forum, touched upon challenges, such as hunger, poverty, and poor living conditions in the world and brought to the participants’ attention that about 21,000 people die every day of hunger or hunger-related causes in the world. The speaker stressed the fact that despite USA is the biggest developed economy, 49 million people there are below the poverty line. He focused on the point of development of human being capacity for better government action. He spoke about charity organizations and funds, which are Civil Society institutions.
After greeting the participants to the event, the President of the Kuwait Association for the Ideal Family and SPMUDA Goodwill Ambassadress of Women for Middle East, Sheikha Fariha Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, underscored the importance of the Forum, which focuses on human development issues, in particular those pertaining to empowerment of women and protection of children, and applauded successful work carried out in this field. She further noted that women make up half of society and bring into the world a successful generation in order to build a safe, secure home and a state as defined by Islam. In closing, she wished sustainable development and prosperity to the Republic of Azerbaijan.
In his final speech, the co-chair of the roundtable, Professor Robert B. Laughlin, thanked all Invited Speakers.
Summing up the works of all three sections, Academician Urkhan Alakbarov noted the high quality of the presentations and speeches and thanked the participants to the event. Urkhan Alakbarov extended the deep gratitude of all participants to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and its President Mehriban Aliyeva, the Vice President of the Foundation and the initiator of the present roundtable, Leyla Aliyeva, and all the organizers of the Fourth Baku International Humanitarian Forum. Mr Alakbarov requested the participants to voice their opinions about the text of the Declaration of the Baku International Humanitarian Forum. The Declaration passed unanimously.
Thus, the roundtable entitled “Sustainable Development and Ecological Civilization” completed its work.