Either one calls it the ‘Land of Fire’ or ‘Pearl of Caucasus’, words cannot comprehend even a sense of Azerbaijan. Magnificently amalgamated with Eastern colours with the Western progress, Azerbaijan maintains its unique nature, alluring culture, uncommon history, mesmerizing traditions, fine cuisine and distinctive customs. It is place that will satisfy a soul, looking for hospitality and friendliness.

At the Eastern side of Transcaucasia (South Caucasus) on the shores of the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan is country with the population of around 9.8 million and territory of 86, 600 square kilometers. In fact, it is the largest country in the South Caucasus as per its population as well as territorial statistics. The Baku city is the capital and the largest city of Azerbaijan. Moreover, it shares its borders with Iran (765 km), Turkey (15 km), Russia (390 km), Georgia (480 km) and Armenia (1007 km), with its Eastern border touching the waters of the Caspian Sea.

Azerbaijan covered its path to development and is successfully standing in the comity of developed nations. However, development process usually begets difficult situations. Development, a new cultural paradigm, is one of such conundrums. It is a situation where “the consumption of natural resources is ahead of their recovery; extremely uneven resources distribution destabilizes both separate countries and the world as a whole; degradation of the natural environment takes place and irreversible negative processes are developing in the biosphere.” Used for the first time in 1972 at the UN conference on the human environment in Stockholm, sustainable development concept, on the contrary, aspires countries to meet their present needs without jeopardizing the future of subsequent generations. The concept covers three sectors: economy, ecology and society. Those economic projects are preferred that take into account possible environmental consequences. In the field of ecology, stability of natural and ecological systems is the main goal. As far as society is concerned, social stability in conjunction with economic activity, protected environment and reduction of social evils as well as destructive conflicts are considered.

Sustainable development is a critical strategic goal in Azerbaijan. Its development model is pursued under the principles of economic growth, social progress and environmental protection. Evaluation of its economic, ecological and social development models suggest that a country’s development starts with the taking into account specific conditions, inherited by the country. This, subsequently, helps in setting effective set of indicators to formulate a country’s sustainable development policy. Usually three set of indicators are used: “1) a set of sustainable development indicators of (SDIs); 2) a set of Millennium development goals indicators (MDGIs); 3) a set of sustainable development goals indicators (SDGIs)”, which are operationalized at national as well as at provincial levels separately. Therefore, the government improves its development models by assessing characteristics, gains and gaps of sustainable development. Overall, sustainable development is an officially adopted doctrine in Azerbaijan.

Pakistan needs to augment its efforts in officially adopting a ‘Sustainable Development Doctrine’ of its own. With this, it will be much easier to achieve outstanding economic growth. Pakistan is moving from poor countries to a group of middle-income countries, especially with the realization of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). In this context, it is also essential that economic development create such conditions that also facilitate social development and the strengthening of environmental protection. There is a wide range of problems from unemployment to expanding population in Pakistan that demands urgent economic growth. But required development also needs: rational agriculture; meeting national as well as international demands with modern and sustainable agricultural techniques, introduction of “clean” industrial technologies for clean development, and expansion of opportunities for access to education, intellectual and creative development for the population, including those living in rural areas; promotion and promotion of rational consumption and healthy lifestyle. As Mawlana Rumi would suggest to bridge the soul of nation, “Inhale autumn, long for spring.”

The writer is a Researcher at Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI), Pakistan. Currently, he is on a Visiting Research Fellowship Program in Baku, Azerbaijan.