Caspian Sea 2011


3. Driving Forces: Socio- economic challenges and opportunities The coastal areas of the Caspian Sea have been experiencing population growth since 1999 and the trend is likely to continue. However, the population is unevenly distributed around the sea, mostly concentrated in the west and south. Urbanization in areas like Baku-Sumgayit puts additional stress on the environment. The eco- nomic growth, driven by the oil and gas sector, and manifested in the overall improvement of economic conditions, is reflected in the steady rise of GDP per capita. At the same time, it can be offset by inflation, which has an unabated tendency to grow. In general, human conditions are improving, literacy rates continue to remain high, life expectancy is increasing and infant mortality is declining regionally.

dustrial and services sectors, while the role of the agricultural sector is declining. The regional economy demonstrates dynamics closely tied to the energy demand both globally and regionally of major clients like the EU, China and India. The foreign trade turnover increased (with the ex- ception of 2008-09) throughout the last decade and is likely to follow the growth pattern of the GDP. The transportation of petroleum resources, as well as associated extraction materials, will increase significantly through the use of tanker fleets and pipelines. Exploration for new oil and gas reserves, as well as the exploitation of dis- covered ones, together with an increase in trans- portation needs, will continue to propel the re- gional economy, but will also inevitably increase the pressures on the environment, already con- siderably degraded. This is, for example, signifi- cantly reflected in the depletion of fish stocks,

The structure of the national economies of the Caspian littoral states is determined by the in-


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