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Mr. Mukhtar Babayev - Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of Azerbaijan,and Mr Kestutis Jankauskas,  
Ambassador - Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Azerbaijan
unveiling the plaque commemorating the EU support for the Laboratory renovation

 

On Tuesday 10 December, the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Azerbaijan and the European Union celebrated the opening of the newly renovated Laboratory Centre of the National Environmental Monitoring Department in Baku in a festive ceremony to mark new laboratory capacities provided by the European Union in the framework of the EU-funded project “European Union Water Initiative Plus for Eastern Partnership Countries” (EUWI+).

Through the recent technological upgrade and renovation of the Laboratory Centre, the National Environmental Monitoring Department now conducts state-of-the-art water analysis which advance the protection of water and river basins in Azerbaijan. The new devices are able to detect a much wider range of industrial chemicals and pesticides, many of which are cancerogenic, neurotoxic, or bioaccumulating. With this expansion of the laboratory, more pollutants can now be monitored and subsequently managed with greater precision. This will eventually lower the risk for people and ecosystems to suffer from the toxic effects of such pollutants.

During the Water Laboratory Opening, a high-level panel informed the audience and media representatives on recent developments regarding water policy and integrated water management in Azerbaijan.  Following the statements delivered by the high-level panel, the Minister and distinguished guests officially opened the renovated laboratory in the commemorative plaque’s unveiling ceremony, followed by a visit of the laboratory and opportunities for exchange between media representatives and panelists.

 

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From left to right: Mr Kestutis Jankauskas Ambassador - Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Azerbaijan;
Mr. Mukhtar Babayev - Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of Azerbaijan

Mr. Mukhtar Babayev - Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of Azerbaijan: “Azerbaijan faces many challenges regarding water resources: water quality, but also water quantity and transboundary cooperation are the main important issues for the country. As our population is growing, its water resources are relatively low and coming from rivers bordering neighboring countries. Together with the EUWI+ project, Azerbaijan improved its water quality monitoring capacities, with 3 renovated laboratories and new laboratory equipment. Azerbaijan hopes that this cooperation with the European Union, as well as with other international organizations, will continue in order to improve water management.”

Mr Kestutis Jankauskas, Ambassador - Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Azerbaijan: “The European Union has the ambition, expressed in the new Commission’s “Green Deal”, to become the first sustainably managed continent by 2050. I am happy to see that Azerbaijan is cooperating with us on this path.”

Mr. Alexander Bayerl - Ambassador of Austria to Azerbaijan: “Due to climate change, Azerbaijan is facing many challenges to its natural environment. But the new European Union investment, together with the trainings by Austrian and European experts, will much improve the rational use of water resources.”

Mr. Zacharie Gross - Ambassador of France to Azerbaijan: “With this European project, Azerbaijan and France are working together to implement the mechanisms of sustainable management of water resources. Through know-how exchange between Azerbaijani, Austrian and French experts, the EUWI + project contributes to promoting equal access to quality water for the entire Azerbaijani population.”

Mr. Alexander Zinke - EUWI+ project leader of the EU Member State Consortium: “We are pleased with the milestones achieved here at the chemical laboratories. Azerbaijan still needs to collect many data from its rivers, lakes, underground and coastal waters. And then find out, besides the chemical analysis, which biological species are living there, such as fish, water insects and water plants: they are the best indicators of water quality.”

 

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Mr Kestutis Jankauskas , Ambassador - Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Azerbaijan
speaking with the personnel of the Baku water analysis laboratory

Background info: Launched in September 2016 for a duration of four years, the European Union Water Initiative plus for the Eastern Partneship programme (EUWI+) is one of the biggest policy dialogue and technical support commitments of the European Union to the water sector in the Eastern Partner countries. The programme supports the six partner countries (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine) to align their legislation with European Union's policy on water management, with a focus on transboundary rivers. The project is funded by the European Union (EUR 23.5 million) and implemented by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), and an EU member states consortium comprising the Austrian Environment Agency (Austria) and the International Office for Water (France). The recent upgrade of the laboratory is a major step towards integrated management of water resources, and support Azerbaijan in its process of approximation to the EU Water Framework Directive. In 2020, one river basin management plan will be the main project outputs.