“In Azerbaijan, when you are recognized as an activist, more pressure comes from society. Because of this, I often avoid calling myself an activist, although if we look at the definition of the term, yes, I am an activist”, says Ilkin Aliyev, chairperson of a volunteer youth association based out of a youth-led organization in Baku. A participant of the third edition of the CAT Programme, Ilkin is a trainer and mentor on youth issues and sustainable development.

Ilkin, both individually and through the volunteer association, is quite actively involved in youth issues in Azerbaijan. The association’s activities include providing information to young people about sustainable development goals (SDGs), promoting projects for young people, and developing their management skills. Besides, its organization funds and supports youth initiatives with small grants.

“As an individual, I am actively involved in different discussions, lectures, training and webinars. I share my views and knowledge on various topics. I am involved in organizing a peace class for our future peace and conflict management activities.”

Ilkin’s work aims at increasing awareness on various issues, such as youth, women and LGBTQI+. To successfully carry out these activities, of course, there are many issues to consider. As Ilkin points out, it was the CAT programme that gave him the knowledge he needed to plan social campaigns successfully. “I had sufficient skills in project management before joining the CAT programme, but I realized and noticed that campaign design and management is quite a different thing than project management. And, it’s undeniable that CAT programme, its trainer and the whole learning process gave me the right direction and vision.”

After completing the CAT program, Ilkin and his association planned a new campaign, where he says he actively uses the knowledge gained during the training. “The skills we have gained from the program are not only related to campaign designing but also closely related to our common activities in civil society. After the CAT program, we started a new project “Reach the Goal!” SDGs Academy – supported by the Foreign Affairs Ministry of The Kingdom of Netherlands and the Caucasus Resource Research Centres (CRRC). The purpose of the project was related to promotion of the global goals among youth. While the main activities were offline, another important point was outreach during the project. In the effectiveness of the public outreach campaign of the project, I used the skills gained from the CAT program, where we talked substantially about public awareness, effective work for reaching audience and held joint discussions with the participants. The information obtained in these activities will be useful both in the project we are implementing and in our future projects, and campaigns. I can’t give concrete examples about which methods or theories were used, but we use the general summary of knowledge/skills that we gain through the CAT programme. To summarize, what we learned from the CAT programme, it really affected our activities, campaigns and actions in Azerbaijan.”