CLIMATE CHANGE COMMUNICATION AND EDUCATION
2. Climate change education and training in the country
3. Climate change communication in the country
i. Climate change context
According to the World Bank, Azerbaijan’s climate is affected mainly by cold Arctic air masses from Scandinavia and temperate air masses from Siberia and Central Asia. Azerbaijan is unique as it contains 8 out of the world’s 11 climate zones. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) reports that these climate zones suffer primarily from growing oil-based pollution in addition to untreated municipal, industrial, and agricultural wastes from neighboring countries.
The country has seen rapid economic development since it increased oil and natural gas exportation starting in 2004. This economic development is directly related to the country’s continued environmental challenges: air pollution from industrial plants, water pollution (especially of the Caspian Sea), soil degradation (erosion and desertification), and the loss of significant biodiversity and forest reserves are the most common sustainability and climate change related issues in Azerbaijan.
According to the Global Carbon Atlas, Azerbaijan’s population of 9.9 million emitted 4tCO2 per person in 2019, positioning the country as a mid-level emitter globally.
The 2015 3rd National Communication projects that the key sectors that will be most affected by climate change are agriculture (through, for instance, loss of soil and arable land, shifts in production zones, and reduced crop yields due to flooding), water resources (including loss of freshwater supplies, increased floods, and increases in the Caspian Sea’s water levels), human health (primarily due to air pollution and heat-related diseases), and tourism and coastal infrastructure (including flood damage).
Although the oil and gas sectors together represent 88% of Azerbaijan’s exports, the agriculture sector contributes to 7% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and is key to the country's ability to break from the oil-based economy. According to the 3rd National Communication (2015), agriculture is crucial for the country's food security, but it is increasingly at risk from climate change-related phenomena such as higher average temperatures, unpredictable rainfall, and increased impacts of natural disasters.
Azerbaijan is a Non-Annex 1 (or non-industrialized) Country under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which it ratified in 1995. The country ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2000, accepted the Doha Amendment in 2015, and ratified the Paris Agreement in 2017.
ii. Relevant government agencies
The State Commission on Climate Change was established in 1997 to coordinate climate efforts through relevant ministries, committees, and other organizations. The Commission is chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister and was approved by Presidential Decree No. 1920 of March 11, 2020 to support the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Most recently, by decree of the President on January 16, 2019, Azerbaijan reorganized its environmental protection and climate change response systems. Further, a working group was formed, consisting of heads of ministries, departments, and others, who will focus their efforts on climate change mitigation and climate change adaptation.
In Azerbaijan, the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources is the essential governing body in charge of climate change, accounting for emissions and regulating natural resources. The UNFCCC Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) Focal Point is housed by the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources. One of the Ministry's sub-departments, the National Hydrometeorological Department, runs the Center for Climate Change and Ozone which is responsible for developing the country's National Communication reports and conducting other analyses on climate change. The Centre supports the National Coordinating Council for Sustainable Development of Azerbaijan, which was established in 2016. The Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources serves as the Designated National Authority for participation in the Clean Development Mechanism projects which include climate change-related international obligations, such as inventorying greenhouse gases and preparing national communications to the UNFCCC. Further, the State Ecological Security Service, which is also part of the Ministry, aims to protect biological diversity, prevent air pollution, and use water efficiently.
The State Agency on Alternative and Renewable Energy Sources is the principal regulatory institution for alternative and renewable energy in Azerbaijan. It is run by the Ministry of Energy and Industry.
The Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for planning the role of agriculture in the country’s economy and strengthening the sector’s climate resilience. The Ministry also prepares educational materials and action plans for communicating the impact of global environmental challenges on food supply, food safety, desertification, and climate change.
The Ministry of Emergency Situations protects the country’s citizens from natural and human-made disasters. The Ministry also prevents emergency situations and manages the consequences of those emergencies when needed and conducts awareness raising campaigns.
Education and communication
The Ministry of Education oversees all levels of formal education. It also prepares curricula and methodological guidelines on social-economic aspects of global environmental challenges and trains experts in the area.
The Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences is the country’s main organization dedicated to research. It prepares educational materials for personnel employed by institutions responsible for implementing and complying with United Nations climate and environmental conventions.
iii. Relevant laws, policies, and plans
Azerbaijan’s Political Constitution (1995), Article 39 is the basis for the country’s national environmental legislation. It states that every person has the right to a healthy environment.
Other significant laws are the Protection of the Environment (1999, updated 2020) and the law on the Protection of Atmospheric Air (2001). Climate change is included in these early laws primarily in relation to protecting the ozone layer. Platform three of the Eastern Partnership (a bilateral cooperation between the EU and post-Soviet states including Azerbaijan), focuses on connectivity, energy efficiency, environment, and climate change.
Climate change is more adequately addressed through government policy frameworks than legislation in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan’s National Action Plan (2005) was developed to strengthen Azerbaijan’s relationship with the European Union and lists steps to be taken for environmental education and awareness raising, with a focus on Kyoto Protocol implementation.
In 2012, the national government approved Azerbaijan 2020: Look into the Future: Concept of Development, which highlights the need to address global warming and puts a special emphasis on the threat climate change poses to the country’s development.
According to Azerbaijan’s 2021 National Adaptation Plan process for climate change resilience, a three-year adaptation plan is in place to advance climate change adaptation actions in Azerbaijan in three priority sectors: water, agriculture, and coastal areas. This project will focus on strengthening the Government’s institutional, technical, and financial capacities to ensure integration of medium- to long-term climate adaptation in Azerbaijan’s national development planning.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (2021-2025) is the country’s most recent document on climate change. In this document, Azerbaijan acknowledges that climate plans, agreements, and protocols need to be effectively implemented and correspond with the country’s commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement. The document indicates that the country’s ultimate goal is to shift to a more sustainable economy to protect its citizens from the adverse impacts of environmental degradation and climate change. This shift in focus entails developing climate modeling plans and climate change reporting mechanisms. Specifically, Azerbaijan aims to set up national plans to assess technological solutions to climate change; develop energy reduction solutions and adaptive strategies on land use; and mainstream environmental considerations into economic policies.
Azerbaijan’s latest Nationally Determined Contributions (2017) describe several climate targets and policies. One such policy, titled the State Programme for the Socioeconomic Development of the Region of Azerbaijan, was passed in 2003, with updates in 2008 and 2014. The Policy relates to climate change mitigation and encourages the use of alternative and renewable energy sources. However, there are no references to climate change communication and education in the Policy.
Additionally, the Energy Policy Review recommends developing an integrated long-term strategic plan for energy and climate change that incorporates and builds on reform measures to date, with an aim to deliver the country’s Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement. The Review also recommended provision of education and training regarding energy and environment.
Education and communication
The Law on General Education (2010) is the foundation for formal education in the country. One of its principles is “care and respect for the environment and people” (Article 3.1.1.). Nevertheless, the Law does not specifically mention climate change.
The 2002 Law about Access to Environmental Information, last amended 2020, gives detailed information about how information about the environment can be accessed by the population. However, climate change is not explicitly mentioned in the law.
The Law on Education and Enlightenment of the People on Ecology was signed by the Azerbaijani Government in 2003 and last amended in 2021. It encourages the right to free access to environmental education in the secondary education system, as well as the continuity of an ecological education at all levels of education. The text does not specifically mention climate change and remains general in its references to environmental education.
The State Standard and Programs (curricula) of General Education (2010) lay out Azerbaijan’s educational framework and steer the country’s formal education sector. Climate change is not included, although the document frequently references topics related to environmental education.
The State Standard and Program of Higher Education (2010) does not mention either climate change or environmental education.
iv. Terminology used for Climate Change Education and Communication
Climate change communication and education falls mostly under the framework of ‘environmental protection,’ which is the terminology used by the National Communication (2015). For example, the document states, “Nowadays, the problems of efficient and sustainable use of natural resources and environmental protection are given great attention in Azerbaijan” (p. 22).
The Law of the Protection of the Environment (1999, updated 2020) dedicates a complete chapter on "Ecological Education and Environmental Protection, Scientific Research, Statistics and Information, Environmental Protection in the Field of Advertising." Yet, no concrete definition of environmental protection is given.
Article 1.3 of the Law on Education and Enlightenment of the People on Ecology (2003) states that the Law takes into account “all areas of environmental protection, preservation of ecological balance and biodiversity, efficient use and restoration of natural resources, as well as one or more areas, taking into account the specifics of education and awareness.” The Law further highlights that it “is based on environmental knowledge and experience aimed at the environment, ecology, the relationship between man and nature and the formation of ecological culture” (Article 2.1). ‘Ecological education’ is defined as “the process of teaching and learning norms, special knowledge, experience on environmental protection and the use of natural resources” (Article 1.0.1).
The National Hydrometeorological Department includes a section for climate change on its website and calls climate change a global issue: “One of the global problems that worries the world is climate change. Climate change and their impact on the living world are increasingly worrying the world community” (n.d.).
v. Budget for climate change education and communication
In 2013 and 2014, the country committed approximately US$63 million per year to support climate change-related actions undertaken by multilateral and bilateral providers. This is less than the average among the countries of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia, which is US$303 million per year.
Multilateral institutions were the dominant channel for the delivery of climate-related development finance to Azerbaijan in 2013 and 2014, accounting for US$ 51 million per year (or 80% of all funding). According to Financing Climate Action in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus (2016), the major contributors included the World Bank Group, the Asian Development Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
In the 2021 State Budget Plan, the ‘environmental protection’ sector received US$166.3 million (AZN 282.7 million). The funding allocations refer to protecting the environment and reducing pollution. Article 11.1.1 of the Law on Education and Enlightenment of the People on Ecology (2003) stipulates that the state is responsible to allocate funds, grants, donations in the field of ecological education and enlightenment, however no breakdown of funding for climate change communication and education is available.
i. Climate change in pre-primary, primary, and secondary education
In Azerbaijan, elements of climate change education are provided at the school level through environmental education. The Law on Education and Enlightenment of the People on Ecology (2003) is the basis for the inclusion of environmental topics in Azerbaijan’s education system. Based on the Law, the Ministry of Education has produced a number of materials to support environmental education and promote learners’ understanding of nature. Climate change is not explicitly mentioned in these documents; rather it is addressed indirectly through references about environmental protection and pollution.
According to the National Curriculum Framework (2010), climate change and environment content is mostly included in secondary education. Students acquire knowledge about the environment and learn about correlations between human actions and nature. The Chemistry, Biology, Geography, and Mathematics subjects all include references to understanding nature and human effects on the environment. A description of the types of climate change-related keywords discussed in the curricula may be found in the MECCE Project Monitoring section of this profile.
Every year since 2010, the Ministry of Education and the German Office for International Cooperation (GIZ) have organized a joint national ecological event called May 22 - Day of Biodiversity. On this day, hundreds of students across the country come together to participate in environmental excursions to study the environment, as well as climate change and its effects on biodiversity and human life.
The Republic Centre for Children's and Youth Development was established in 2016 with the aim of fostering comprehensive development in children and youth. A Centre initiative developed ‘Ekoklubs’ (eco-clubs) and piloted educational programs at several secondary schools in Baku which were designed to increase students’ ecological knowledge of and engage students in discussions on environmental issues, including climate change. According to a UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment (n.d.), the Centre’s teaching programs and manuals include topics such as alternative energy and climate change. The Centre also implements the Green Network, an environmental education program in secondary schools in Baku which enhances the environmental education of school children. The program provides high school students with educational resources on a variety of climate change-related topics including developing resource-efficient behavior, using creative solutions for collecting and recycling waste (paper and plastic containers), saving water, and taking up practical activities to reduce the impact of climate change.
In summer 2017, environmental camps were organized for school children to teach them about the biodiversity of Azerbaijan, ecosystem services, and conservation of rare animal species, through a joint collaboration of the Ministry of Education, the International Dialogue on Environmental Action (IDEA) Public Union, and the World Wildlife Fund's Azerbaijan Office and other special training programs.
Since 2017, high school students from different districts of Baku have participated in educational eco-tours to Shirvan National Park and Shahdag National Park, which are organized by the Ministry of Education. Participating students learn about national park biodiversity and the importance of animals. Additionally, the annual work plans of these national parks include regular meetings with school children from surrounding villages as well as student excursions.
The country’s 3rd National Communication (2016) reports that climate change is included in environmental education and is available at middle and high school levels. Yet, according to the 2019 Azerbaijan Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity, environmental education and training has not yet been established in the country at the necessary level. Further, the report indicates that the existing curriculum and teaching aids do not comply with up-to-date requirements.
ii. Climate change in teacher training and teaching resources
Teacher training initiatives in Azerbaijan are usually supported by international organizations and local non-governmental organizations. With the support of the European Union (EU)’s Eastern Partnership program, the Young Foresters' Group for children was established with the overall goal of better preparing Azerbaijani teachers for climate change. The EU provided teaching materials for technical schools and Ministry training institutes as part of the program. In total, the Ministry of Education produced six new training guides for teachers, schoolchildren, and university and vocational students that have been included in the curriculum.
As part of an initiative to promote environmental education and training in schools, new modular environmental education programs, methodologies, and manuals were developed with the active participation of staff of the newly established Child and Youth Development Center under the Ministry of Education of Azerbaijan. Regular training is provided for secondary school teachers to enhance environmental and climate awareness.
The Azerbaijani Ministry of Education started a project to train more Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) teachers to enable the country to better respond to the challenges of a globalized world, including climate change. This initiative trained 30,000 STEM teachers in its first four years according to a 2020 Ministry report.
A seminar on the World's Largest Lessons Teaching Methodology was held at the Institute for Professional Development of Educators with the support of the International Dialogue on Environmental Action Public Union and the Azerbaijan Office of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in 2019, with the goal of increasing climate change education in Azerbaijani classrooms.
iii. Climate change in higher education
Few of the country’s higher education institutions teach or conduct research about climate change mitigation, impact reduction, and early warning. While the expansion and increased competitiveness of higher education was noted in Azerbaijan 2020: View of the Future Development Concept (2012), this review did not find much publicly available information regarding the inclusion of climate change in Azerbaijani higher education.
The universities most engaged in climate change are the ADA University, the Western Caspian University, and the Baku State University. The ADA University, for example, hosted a climate change conference in 2020. The Azerbaijan State Agrarian University is supported by the Ministry of Agriculture to host summer schools on climate change in relation to agriculture.
Also, the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences hosts regular events on topics related to climate change and coordinates academic research. For example in 2020, an event was held to explore the relationships between climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the 3rd National Communication, “specialists in climate studies and scientific basics of climate change are educated at the Geography department of the Baku State University” (2016, p. 87).
iv. Climate change in training and adult learning
Article 59 of the country’s Law on the Protection of the Environment (1999) proposes the following in relation to ecological training and education in Azerbaijan:
- The interaction between ecological training and education of the public shall be regulated by respective legislation.
- Officials associated with activities causing harmful impact upon the environment shall, as an obligatory condition, possess the requisite ecological training and information on principal provisions of legislation in the field of protection of the environment. (Article 59)
As a response to the Environment Protection Law, the Academy of Public Administration under the President's Officeorganizes annual short-term environmental training courses for senior management staff of governmental institutions with the purpose of implementing new environmental mechanisms to foster sustainable development and an ecological civilization.
The Strategic Roadmap for Vocational Education and Training in Azerbaijan Republic (2016) does not include any references to climate change or the environment, but notes that the recent:
…diversification of economy and targeted reforms carried out to ensure the sustainable development of non-oil sector in the country have necessitated the establishment of flexible and market-oriented vocational education system by ensuring the development of value-adding sectors of economy and thereby increasing the demand for competitive and skilled workforce. (p. 8)
The government of Azerbaijan implemented the National Forest Program in 2013. The Program emphasizes the role of forestry in climate change mitigation and adaptation, with a focus on strengthening support to rural communities. The Program’s targets include providing specialized training for foresters to promote sustainable forest management.
The Institute for Professional Development of Educators holds seminars on climate change-related topics. For example, in 2017, the Institute held a seminar on Sustainable Tourism for International Development for employees of out-of-school institutions in Baku and the Absheron district.
Businesses and private companies are also engaged in climate change training initiatives. The State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic initiated the Caspian Environmental Protection Initiative in 2020, which united companies to share experience and knowledge.
According to a Readiness Proposal submitted to the Green Climate Fund in 2019, one part of the country’s upcoming National Adaptation Plan will focus on capacity-building for climate change. Communication, public awareness, and training will be key in the new Plan, which also has a strong focus on gender equality.
According to the country’s 3rd National Communication, the German Office for International Cooperation (GIZ) has developed training courses to strengthen capacities in climate change adaptation in Azerbaijan.
i. Climate change and public awareness
A 2020 presentation by the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources states that "activities in education, such as training and public awareness regularly are carried out by the government and private sector." (n.p.) Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) also work to build public communication and awareness raising about climate change in Azerbaijan.
In 2019, the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) Azerbaijan Office, KOICA Azerbaijani Alumni Association, and the Republican Child and Youth Development Center of the Azerbaijan Ministry of Educationcollaborated on an event for children called Change Yourself, Not the Climate. The goal was to raise awareness about Sustainable Development Goal 13 (climate action) and encourage children to take climate action.
In 2019, the German Office for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resourcesjointly prepared six infographics and six video clips on ecosystem services in Azerbaijan. The campaign was designed to raise awareness about the environment, especially in relation to biodiversity and ecosystem services. The campaign’s promotion on social networks has allowed it to reach a broader audience and gain public sympathy.
In 2021, the 6th Ecological Forum of Eco-club Members was held within the framework of the ‘Green Network’ environmental awareness program. According to the Ministry of Education, 250 students from 2,500 eco-clubs operating in 50 secondary schools and 30 regional child and youth development centers in Baku were selected to participate in the Forum. The main theme was to ‘green,’ or take better care of, the environment. Climate change was included as part of the discussions.
In 2020, a Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources initiative Let's Say No to Plastic encouraged the general public and university students to limit their use of plastic products, better manage their waste, and reduce their negative impact on the environment. A total of 145 containers to collect and sort plastic have been deployed in 37 cities and regions within the country, aiming to teach the public about the relationship between plastic waste and climate change.
According to the 2019 Voluntary National Review, the Ministry of Education and the United Nations Children’s Fund(UNICEF) held a competition for the best short-film about climate change in 2018. The Healthy Environment - Healthy Future initiative produced a series of animated videos with environmental education themes. The project’s goal was to raise awareness of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, foster an environment culture, and encourage children to adopt climate friendly behaviors while also helping teachers communicate these ideas to students.
The 3rd National Communication (2016) mentions the awareness-raising role of the International Dialogue on Environmental Action (IDEA), established in 2011. IDEA brings together different stakeholders, particularly youths. The National Communication also notes that the State Agency on Alternative and Renewable Energy Sources is a governmental agency which provides information about renewable energy and distributes information as well as provides training and public awareness campaigns.
ii. Climate change and public access to information
Azerbaijan acknowledges that one of the biggest problems facing climate change mitigation actions in the country is that the public is not informed enough to take individual climate action. In the 2005 National Action Plan, Azerbaijan identified “Informing the public in the field of protection of biodiversity, climate change and combating desertification” (n.p.) as an important challenge.
The 2002 Law about Access to Environmental Information, last amended 2020, gives detailed information about how the country’s population can access information about the environment; however, climate change is not explicitly mentioned in the law.
The Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources website includes an information center with content on a variety of subjects, including global environmental issues, the ecological status of the country, and national ecological policies. The website also provides data and information about government climate-related projects and future campaigns.
Another entity that provides public information on climate change matters is the Ministry of Emergency Situations. The Ministry’s website includes general information about natural and man-made disasters as well as statistical data and information related to disaster prevention.
The Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences includes information about scientific research, the national climate change situation, as well as climate change-related news and upcoming events on its website.
The 2019 National Voluntary Review emphasizes Azerbaijani citizens’ rights to free access to information, which is protected by national and international legal frameworks. Article 50 of the Azerbaijan Political Constitution guarantees everyone’s freedom to seek, receive, pass, prepare, and disseminate information.
iii. Climate change and public participation
The Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources joins efforts to involve citizens in climate change projects. For example, the Ministry’s website includes volunteering initiatives where people can participate in environmental protection projects.
A key component of the 2003 Law on Education and Enlightenment of the People on Ecology relates to public consultations for educational programs. The goal is to include local realities in climate change decisions.
The International Dialogue for Environmental Action is an international campaign launched in Baku in 2011, which aims to foster youth leadership for environmental protection and climate action.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (2021-2025) includes a strategic priority that, “People including those left behind benefit from climate strategies and environment protection policies that ensure natural resources are sustainably managed, livelihoods are protected, and resilience strengthened” (p. 27). The Framework aims to achieve this priority through public consultation processes that consider the livelihoods of people in need. The Framework also aims to establish more partnerships with non-governmental organizations and civil society to increase their participation in climate change-related matters.
Azerbaijan has made some progress in involving the public in environmental decision-making. For instance, the public was widely consulted in preparing the State Programme for Poverty Eradication (2008-2015). In addition, representatives of research institutions and non-governmental organizations participate in State ecological expertise commissions and public hearings conducted for large infrastructure projects. However, no clear procedures have been developed for holding public hearings on environmental matters.
According to the 3rd National Communication, the State Agency on Alternative and Renewable Energy Sources holds regular meetings with public representatives, students, and youth to improve the efficiency of renewables energies and implement plans for a good sustainable development.
i. Country monitoring
There are currently no institutional structures or formal arrangements to coordinate monitoring or collection of environment or climate change-related data, including in relation to education or communication, amongst the country’s institutions. Further, coordination efforts are sporadic or non-existent.
Public institutions responsible for environmental monitoring and data collection maintain their own databases, which are not connected with each other. Although the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources regularly receives environmental statistical data from other monitoring institutions and enterprises, there is no user-friendly operational database to link various data flows to facilitate study of cause-effect relationships or conduct environmental assessments.
As part of the National Hydrometeorology Department, the Center for Climate Change and Ozone is in charge of inventorying gases caused by thermal effects. The Department carries out climate change-related analysis for the country and develops prevention strategies based on future climate change scenarios.
The State Statistical Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan monitors some climate change-related indicators.
Article 12 of the Law on Education and Enlightenment of the People on Ecology (2003) focuses on monitoring. It dictates that relevant executive authorities annually “prepare and publish a report on environmental education and awareness of the population” (Article 1). The Law also adds that non-state organizations may participate in the implementation of public control and establishes an advisory committee to regulate ecological education.
Concrete climate change communication and education evaluation and monitoring mechanism were not found during the data collection of this profile.
ii. MECCE Project Monitoring
The Monitoring and Evaluating Climate Communication and Education (MECCE) Project examined the State Standard and Programs (curricula) of General Education (2010), which is the country’s National Curriculum Framework, for references to climate change, sustainability, biodiversity, and the environment. This review was unable to locate an Education Sector Plan.
The document does not include any references to ‘climate change.’ It mentions ‘environment’ 15 times, ‘sustainability’ once, and makes no mention of ‘biodiversity.’
This section will be updated as the MECCE Project develops.