The future starts here! High school students in Azerbaijan looking for ways to improve the environment and save Lake Masazir
June 6, 2024

The future starts here! High school students in Azerbaijan looking for ways to improve the environment and save Lake Masazir


Every year, 5 June marks World Environment Day, designed to draw people’s attention to environmental problems worldwide.

Of course, humanity should consider global warming, deforestation, air pollution, ozone depletion, garbage pollution, drought and many other problems and their consequences every day, not just on this memorable date.

For example, Azerbaijan recently hosted a school Symposium on Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation measures in Baku. The main goal was to involve the younger generation in working together to address environmental issues. The symposium was held as part of the EU4Climate regional programme, and was organised by the United Nations Development Programme in cooperation with the European Union and the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Azerbaijan.

During the symposium, representatives from the UNDP, the EU, and the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Azerbaijan familiarised themselves with research projects on climate change mitigation and adaptation measures submitted to the ‘The Future Starts Here’ competition. About a hundred high school students from 13 schools joined the competition.

The competition provided students with a platform where they could not only talk about environmental problems, but also offer solutions.

The team representing the secondary school No.23 named after Tahir Hasanov in Baku won the competition. The team members were Amina Alibeyli, Heydar Rustamli, Maryam Aslanova, Farid Akhundov, Ervin Jamalov, Emil Abdulazimov, Farid Akhundov and Fagan Aliyev.

The students conducted various studies and developed a project to clean up Lake Masazir, located north of Baku, under the leadership of Tamilla Bagirova, a physics teacher at their school.

Tamilla Bagirova says her students have always been interested in issues related to ecology and environmental protection. However, the most common concern was the pollution of the Caspian Sea, which washes the shores of Azerbaijan and Lake Masazir.

“I think the children will continue to implement projects, and ideas in the field of ecology and environmental protection in the future. They are interested in it, they feel a responsibility to the planet,” says Tamilla Bagirova.

The project was inspired by Fagan Aliyev, professor and president of the International Ecoenergy Academy under the Azerbaijan University of Architecture and Construction. He drew the children’s attention to the fact that Lake Masazir was in poor condition.

“Our team went to the lake, took tests, conducted research in special laboratories. By developing a project to clean the lake, young people wanted to benefit their country. During the project, we came to a number of conclusions: it is necessary to clean up the lake shoreline to remove garbage and sewage, establish a centralised sewage system for household wastewater from nearby communities, and figure out how to utilise treated water for purposes like watering green areas and washing cars. Also, after studying the chemical composition of the lake’s natural water, it will be possible to construct specialised health centres on the shore,” Tamilla Bagirova explains. She points out that the lake’s water level sometimes rises, and rubbish from the shoreline therefore floats into the water.

According to Tamilla Bagirova, the school symposium, as part of the EU4Climate programme, played a significant role in engaging not only team members but also other students in environmental issues.

“When we conducted our research, almost the entire school was interested. The students came up and asked how the work was progressing.”

She notes that the symposium provided participants an outstanding opportunity to discuss their projects and communicate their ideas to a wide audience, adding: “After the presentation of the projects, there was an intellectual game on ecology that provided students with a lot of new information about the subject.”

One of the team members, Farid Akhundov, a student at the Azerbaijan State University of Oil and Industry, pointed out that the pollution of Lake Masazir was a significant environmental problem that requires special attention.

“Working on the project together with my partner Ervin Jamalov, we observed, collected data, worked with sources, tested hypotheses and processed the results. We developed a presentation based on the results of this work. It took us about two years to develop the project. His idea is to clean Lake Masazir using the photocatalysis method and nanoparticles of titanium dioxide,” said Farid Akhundov. The partners presented this project at the competition and secured victory in the ‘Best Performance’ category. They also claimed victory in the intellectual game focused on environmental and ecology issues.

Farid said the competition had been effective in engaging young people in addressing environmental challenges, with a total of 13 schools showcasing their projects. Each of them will help improve our country’s environment. He added that he continues to participate in various volunteer activities, such as cleaning the seashore of rubbish and planting trees. “All of this makes our planet a better place every day,” says Farid.

Another team member, Emil Abdulazimov, recalls being struck by the extraordinary beauty of Lake Masazir when he first saw it. At the same time, the substantial amount of rubbish on the shore and the sewage pipes releasing wastewater into the lake greatly upset him.

“Then we realised that the lake needed to be saved. My partner, Heydar Rustamli, and I conducted rigorous laboratory experiments to discover the most effective method for water treatment, leading us to a groundbreaking technique used in other countries. And we have improved it!” Emil says.

“I am going to become a chemical engineer in the future. Now that I am studying at the Baku Higher Oil School, participating in this competition was important for me to gain experience in the laboratory. I hope to develop methods or create structures to clean our planet from various kinds of pollution,” Emil added.

He went on to say that young Azerbaijanis were deeply committed to addressing environmental issues. “During the competition, we were impressed by the sheer number of impactful projects and the high level of engagement from other participants. The organisers provided our team an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of this lake and the pollution of water bodies in general.”

Amina Alibeyli is currently enrolled in the Faculty of International Relations at ADA University. She says that her future profession will enable her to bring global attention to environmental problems.

“I remember Lake Masazir from my childhood. I am very sorry that it has become so polluted in a few years. Of course, in this situation, a lot of blame lies on people, but we can solve this problem,” asserts Amina.

Her team with Maryam Aslanova and Fagan Aliyev successfully developed a method for effectively cleaning water bodies. The team made sure to craft their presentation to ensure that even those unfamiliar with the topic could understand the project’s concept. “If I am given the chance, I am committed to introducing this cleaning method to the general public,” says Amina.

“Winning the competition was a powerful driving force for me to delve into the study of ecology and environmental pollution. Recently, I became the leader of a project related to global warming at the university. We must prioritise addressing air pollution, deforestation, global warming, and other environmental issues, in addition to tackling water pollution. If we do not start solving these problems today, the situation will become much worse,” says Amina Alibeyli.

While attending the symposium, Heydar Rustamli, a current student at the Medical Faculty of Dokuz Eylul University, took the opportunity to familiarise himself with the projects of participants from other schools. The projects raised significant environmental issues that demand attention.

“These are water pollution, global warming, air pollution and other issues that affect the future of our planet,” Heydar says. He vividly recalled the powerful message from the symposium: “We have no other planet; we must protect and cherish the one we call home.”

“This is a common task for all of us. It is necessary to hold symposiums, and competitions on environmental issues in order to attract the attention of the public, and youth representatives to these problems. A significant role should be attributed to the media and other sources of information,” Heydar argues and adds: “I personally use water and electricity wisely and sort waste. I think this is what every conscientious citizen should do.”

Without a doubt, young people assert that implementing their projects will not only benefit their country, but the entire planet as well.

“We want to clean the lake shoreline from rubbish, and make it a place where people can rest, and participate in medical and recreational activities,” they add.

Seeing their dedication, their teacher Tamilla Bagirova has no doubt that young people will succeed. The contest ‘The Future Starts Here’ became an excellent impetus for students from 13 schools to change the future of the planet, starting with solving environmental problems in their country.

Author: Jani Babayeva

Article published in Azerbaijani and Russian by Milli.az and Day.az



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