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Azerbaijan: A Beacon of Environmental Leadership and Vision

The Republic of Azerbaijan stands at the forefront of global environmental action, exemplified by its recent announcement to host World Environment Day 2026 and COP29. This monumental achievement not only underscores Azerbaijan’s commitment to addressing climate change but also highlights its role as a leader in environmental sustainability. As an ardent advocate for sustainable development and climate action, I, Qaiser Nawab, extend my heartfelt congratulations to Azerbaijan and commend its visionary leadership, particularly under the dynamic guidance of H.E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev, the President of Azerbaijan.

Under President Ilham Aliyev’s leadership, Azerbaijan has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to environmental sustainability. His administration has consistently pursued policies that have not only addressed immediate environmental concerns but have also laid the groundwork for long-term ecological stability. The decision to host World Environment Day 2026 is a testament to this enduring commitment. This event, established by the UN General Assembly in 1972, serves as the largest global platform for environmental engagement, inspiring millions worldwide to take action against climate change.

Hosting this prestigious event will bring global attention to Azerbaijan’s environmental efforts and its resilience in the face of climate challenges. As noted by Mukhtar Babayev, Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources and COP29 President-Designate, Azerbaijan is poised to double its renewable energy sources by 2030, expand its forests, and achieve zero-waste through state-of-the-art facilities. Such ambitious goals reflect the nation’s dedication to creating a sustainable future.

Having had the privilege of meeting President Ilham Aliyev in Shusha, I was profoundly impressed by his charisma, intelligence, and unwavering honesty to his nation and country. President Aliyev’s leadership is marked by a series of visionary initiatives that have consistently become realities, earning a distinguished place in history. His strategic foresight and commitment to environmental and economic reforms have positioned Azerbaijan as a model for sustainable development.

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Indeed, President Aliyev’s initiatives have not only transformed Azerbaijan’s environmental landscape but have also strengthened its position on the global stage. His ability to turn visionary concepts into concrete actions has garnered international recognition and respect. This track record of success provides a robust foundation for Azerbaijan’s role as the host of both World Environment Day 2026 and COP29.

World Environment Day 2026 will focus on climate change, a critical issue that impacts every corner of the globe. As the host, Azerbaijan will play a pivotal role in galvanizing international efforts to combat environmental degradation. This event will bring together governments, businesses, civil society, and individuals to accelerate progress toward a sustainable future.

In recent years, the global community has made significant strides in addressing the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature loss, and pollution. The outcomes of previous UN Climate Change Conferences, such as COP26, COP27, and COP28, have laid the groundwork for new commitments to renewable energy, efficiency, and methane reduction. Azerbaijan’s leadership in hosting COP29 will further these efforts, emphasizing critical progress on climate finance, transparency, technology, and more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

Azerbaijan’s proactive stance in environmental matters is evident in its recent initiatives and achievements. The nation’s commitment to nearly doubling its renewable energy sources by 2030, growing forests, and reaching zero-waste status are exemplary goals that showcase its dedication to sustainability. Furthermore, Azerbaijan’s efforts to combat desertification and manage waste align with global objectives to create a healthier, more resilient planet.

In her press conference in Baku, Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP, praised Azerbaijan for its dedication to tackling the triple planetary crisis. She highlighted the nation’s impressive biodiversity conservation efforts, including those witnessed at Shirvan National Park and Khilli Sturgeon Fish Hatchery. Azerbaijan’s leadership in hosting COP29 will be crucial in driving global action and ensuring substantial progress on climate-related issues.

Governments, businesses, civil society, and youth leaders around the world are increasingly calling for bold and transformative actions to address climate change. The urgency to end fossil fuel use, restore degraded nature, reduce pollution, and transition to clean energy is more pressing than ever. As the host of World Environment Day 2026, Azerbaijan will be at the forefront of this global movement, inspiring millions to join the fight for a sustainable future.

UNEP’s ongoing research and flagship reports, such as the Emissions Gap Report and Adaptation Gap Report, will continue to support Azerbaijan’s presidency, providing critical data and insights to inform the negotiations and initiatives at COP29. These efforts will ensure that Azerbaijan’s leadership is both informed and impactful, driving meaningful progress on the global stage.

As we look forward to World Environment Day 2026 and COP29, it is clear that Azerbaijan is poised to make significant contributions to global environmental sustainability. The nation’s commitment to addressing climate change, preserving biodiversity, and promoting renewable energy will serve as a beacon of hope and inspiration for the international community.

I am confident that under President Ilham Aliyev’s visionary leadership, Azerbaijan will continue to lead by example, demonstrating that bold initiatives and strategic actions can create a sustainable future for all. His ability to turn vision into reality will undoubtedly leave an indelible mark on history, celebrated in golden words for generations to come.

I extend my heartfelt congratulations to Azerbaijan for its remarkable achievements and its upcoming role as the host of World Environment Day 2026 and COP29. Your leadership and commitment to environmental sustainability are truly commendable, and I look forward to witnessing the positive impact of your efforts on the global stage.

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Mr. Qaiser Nawab, a global peace activist, is a distinguished international expert specializing in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Afghanistan, Central Asia and founder of the Belt and Road Initiative for Sustainable Development (BRISD), a newly established global think-tank headquartered in Islamabad, in conjunction with the one-decade celebration of BRI.