Environmental information centre opens in Azerbaijan

A public information centre to promote public access to environmental information and encourage participation in decision-making in environmental affairs has been opened in Azerbaijan Tuesday by the OSCE Office in Baku and Azerbaijan's Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources.


BAKU, Sept. 23, 2003 -- A public information centre to promote public access to environmental information and encourage participation in decision-making in environmental affairs has been opened in Azerbaijan Tuesday by the OSCE Office in Baku and Azerbaijan's Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources.

"The establishment of the Aarhus Public Information Centre marks a significant step towards the implementation of the United Nations Aarhus Convention of 1998, to which the Republic of Azerbaijan acceded on 23 March 2000," said Ambassador Peter Burkhard, Head of the OSCE Office in Baku.

The Aarhus Centre will provide governmental, scientific, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) engaged in environmental activities with free access to a library, the Internet and conference room facilities. The Centre will serve as a link between those interested in environmental policy-making and implementation in Azerbaijan.

"Gaining access to environmental information is not only a right but also an obligation for all of us," said Azerbaijan's Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources, Hussein Bagirov, at the opening ceremony. "The Aarhus Centre has been established to serve the needs of everyone who is interested in the environmental situation of our country and wants to contibute to the decision-making process in this area."

"Solving environmental problems requires a functioning relationship between the partners from government, NGOs, and businesses," said Ambassador Burkhard. "The Aarhus Centre is the place where such relations and co-operation should start".

He also stressed the importance of the Centre as a measure to ensure freedom of information.

The Centre will be run by a board of experts representing civil society, the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources and Parliament. It will be supported by an Advisory Board composed of representatives of the donor community and diplomatic missions. It is envisaged that the Centre will also serve as a venue for public discussions, NGO meetings and public relations activities of the Ministry.

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