The FMI was a co-developer in an EU-financed Twinning project on air quality monitoring in Azerbaijan. The beneficiary of the project was the ministry that is responsible for Azerbaijan's ecology and natural resources, and is also tasked with air quality monitoring. Also participating in the project were Austria's Environment Agency and the Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.
The quality of air in Azerbaijan is deteriorated by traffic, the oil refinement industry, burning of waste and burn-clearing of fields. Azerbaijan's capital Baku, the name of which signifies city of the winds, is located in the Absheron Peninsula. The city's location by the Caspian Sea and its windy climate are positive aspects for air quality, as they allow for pollution to be dispersed rapidly. On the other hand, heavy winds make particles in roads and dry areas around the city airborne. Most thresholds for impurities in the air as set by the EU are exceeded in Baku.
The official event for the air quality project's closure was held in Baku at the end of April. The project, active between 2016-2019, took almost three years and had a budget of EUR 1,4 million.
The project's coordinator from the FMI, Katja Lovén, recounts that: "The project's aim was to support Azerbaijan in modernising its air quality monitoring network, the methods of which were inherited from the Soviet era. Modernising the monitoring network would produce useful and reliable information to support decision making."
The project had a detailed plan to modernise Azerbaijan's air quality monitoring systems. The plan's implementation was commenced during the project, and five new air quality stations will be acquired during 2019-2020. Future plans include acquiring a total of 25 new stations.
The Twinning project trained over 200 employees of the ministry to monitor air quality and to prepare an inventory for emissions. The project also included three study visits to Finland, Latvia and Austria, and two training periods of two months held in Finland, during which two Azerbaijani experts collaborated with the FMI and the Finnish Environment Institute. Additionally, an air quality sensor by Vaisala, a Finnish company that develops, manufactures and markets products and services for environmental and industrial measurement, was installed in Azerbaijan.