Thursday, April 23, 2009

REPORT: ‘Caspian Qatar’ faces environmental challenges. By Bruno De Cordier in Baku (

In the wake of the oil boom and as a late consequence of the war in Nagorno-Karabakh, Baku and the beak-shaped Absheron peninsula are slowly growing into a urban area. The impact on the area’s environmental security is becoming clear.

A strong wind is blowing on the top of a hill at Romani, a silent, dusty village some fifteen kilometres from Baku. The heavy, fast-moving clouds and occasional sunrays piercing through create an eerie atmosphere. The view of the industrial archaeology of ageing oil derricks at the foot of the hill and of Baku’s urban sprawl beyond, both show the major environmental challenges that loom in the coming decades. Though not unique to the Caspian region, urbanization and the exploitation and control of energy resources affect the future security situation in the area a great deal more than much-hyped threats like ‘ethnic nationalism’ or ‘Islamic extremism’.

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