The World Bank (WB) is ready to work with the Government of Azerbaijan to address the priorities in the development of a sustainable marine environment, Kseniya Lvovsky, Practice Manager for Environment, Natural Resources, and Blue Economy in Europe and Central Asia Sustainable Development Department of the WB, told Trend in an exclusive interview.
According to the specialist, Azerbaijan has great potential for the improvement of what experts call a ‘blue’ economy, which is the exploitation, preservation, and regeneration of the marine environment.
“What we understand by this term is a sustainable, inclusive economy in the coastal and maritime space, and here Azerbaijan is fortunate to obtain all the sources. Having a very long coastal and maritime space, where strong economic activity is already observed, Azerbaijan could increase its capacities in the field,” she said.
As Lvovsky rightly pointed out, the potential of the blue economy may get limited if it is not developed in a more sustainable way.
“For example, the pollution of the sea, whether these are oil spills wastewater or plastic, which is another emerging issue of global significance, if these issues are not addressed, it will be difficult to develop tourism or attract private investors in other economic sectors, including potentially new economic sectors, fisheries, marine culture and so on,” the expert noted.
The WB’s recommendation for Azerbaijan in this regard is to create a level playing field for the private sector so that it can provide public investments in environmental infrastructure in rehabilitating the coast, plaguing abandoned wells, addressing pollution control, and adopting robust policies for innovative financial mechanisms to support private sector investment in green and sustainable industries along the coast.
“We are really pleased with the different types of collaboration between the WB and Azerbaijan. Renewable energy, in this regard, is very important for greener economic growth in Azerbaijan, and globally, and, indeed, the WB Group, together with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) supports such initiatives as the Offshore Wind Roadmap, which is a great example of blue economy development,” Lvovsky said.
Speaking further, the expert stated that the WB is eager to support Azerbaijan in the development of a clean hydrogen production industry.
“Our preliminary assessment indicates that Azerbaijan, as a fossil fuel economy, has the potential for the production of clean, which is blue, green and turquoise, hydrogen. This is the type of alternative clean energy resource that many hydrogen-rich economies are looking for - a cleaner and low carbonate future,” she said.
She said that at the moment, the WB is preparing a Country Climate and Development Report for Azerbaijan, where the more detailed and in-depth assessment of hydrogen potential production in the country, with specific recommendations for the government, as well as the potential of WB’s support in the field.
“We are following our five-year program together with the Government of Azerbaijan, and, currently, we are about to start preparing Country Partnership Framework to outline the paths of our cooperation, including the financing process for the next five years. We look forward to hearing the government’s priorities, and, certainly, renewable energy, we believe, will be prioritized,” Lvovsky added.
In conclusion, the WB expert spoke about the newly prepared "Azerbaijan: Towards Green Growth" report, and pointed out, that the key message of the report is supporting private investments in green economic sectors.
According to the expert, this could be achieved through a combination of strong policies, regulations, innovative financing mechanisms and public-private partnerships.
Supporting market approach in the sectors that use renewable natural resources such as agriculture, water management, forestry, fisheries and marine culture will be of great importance to achieve green economic growth, she noted, adding that, at the same time, those sectors have a high potential for job growth.
"Green transformation is a long way off, and it requires a long-term vision, backed by concrete strategies with short-, medium- and long-term measures, and, in terms of policy reforms, it is important to begin the implementation without delay. I think that Azerbaijan has a high human, technical and investment potential for successful implementation of these reforms," she said.