Representatives of 52 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) from around the Caspian Basin gathered last week in Azerbaijan to consider issues of environmental protection and human health at a conference sponsored by ISAR: Initiative for Social Action and Renewal in Eurasia. Participants met from April 20-23 at the Gyanjlik International Center outside of Baku to discuss common problems and the potential for cooperative work to address regional concerns. Representatives of several oil companies active in th e region also attended. The conference, titled "Building for a Sustainable Future: Cooperation and Partnership among NGOs in the Transcaspian Basin," provided activists with the opportunity to meet one another, learn about problems in other regions and work on developing solutions. Participants drafted a statement of their concerns about Caspian oil development and discussed strategies to educate the public about environmental issues, monitor environmental conditions in the region and encourage public participation in decision making.
Conference participants came primarily from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan. Additionally, a representative of the International Institute for Caspian Studies in Iran and an American activist from the Pacific Environment and Resources Center (PERC) shared their experiences with the gathering. The conference was financed by USAID, with supplementary funding from UNDP.
The conference launched ISAR's three-year USAID-funded program to increase opportunities for communication among NGOs and support joint projects among environmental activists in the countries of the Caspian Basin. The next step in the project is the formation of an e-mail network to provide activists with a vehicle for regular communication and information sharing. To this end, ISAR has established an information service to disseminate Caspian-related materials to all interested. NGOs will also have the o pportunity to apply for grants to support modem purchases and e-mail costs.
Other aspects of ISAR's Transcaspian NGO program will include a small grants program for environmental projects and a series of four topical workshops that will explore themes raised at the conference.
For more information about the conference or about ISAR's three-year Transcaspian NGO program, write to Amy Forster (firstname.lastname@example.org) or contact one of the following ISAR offices:
1601 Connecticut Ave., NW, Ste. 301
Washington, DC 20009
202-387-3034; fax: 202-667-3291
ul. Vtoraya Tverskaya Yamskaya, d.38, kv. 13
Moscow, Russia 121019
186-15 Suleyman Rahimov St.
Baku, Azerbaijan 370014
email@example.com ISAR-Central Asia
ul. Shagabutdinova d. 128, kv. 7
Almaty, Kazakhstan 480004
or, in Georgia, contact ISAR's partner organization Horizonti, at:
Zandukeli St., d. 13, kv. 3
Tbilisi, Georgia 380008
Last updated: May 4, 1999