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Saving the ozone layer: UNEP responds to evolving needs of developing countries in implementing the Montreal Protocol

PARIS/NAIROBI, 25 March 2002 - The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has changed the way it does business in order to help developing countries meet their targets to phase-out use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other ozone depleting substances.

Last week in Montreal, the Executive Committee of the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol endorsed the 2002 Business Plan of UNEP which includes the Compliance Assistance Programme (CAP). The new Programme, approved by the Executive Committee and designed to speed up project implementation by DTIE and the quality of services provided to developing countries to support compliance with the Montreal Protocol, is the new core of the UNEP DTIE OzonAction Programme.

"Completing the CFC phase-out schedule for developing countries is of particular importance for the recovery of the Earth's stratospheric ozone layer," says Jacqueline Aloisi de Larderel, Assistant Executive Director of UNEP and Director of the Division of Technology Industry and Economics (DTIE). "The Montreal Protocol is succeeding but the job is not yet over. Ensuring that developing countries fulfil their compliance is essential for the success of the treaty and ultimately the recovery of the ozone layer, and we believe UNEP's new approach under the CAP will assist in realizing this objective," she said.

The ozone layer shields planet Earth from the harmful ultraviolet-B radiation of the sun. It also completely screens out lethal UV-C radiation. The ozone shield is thus essential to life as we know it. Depleting the ozone layer allows more UV-B to reach the earth. More UV-B means more melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers, more eye cataracts, weakened immune systems, reduced plant yields, damage to ocean eco-systems and reduced fishing yields, adverse effects on animals, and more damage to plastics.

Under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer and its Amendments developing countries that are Party to the Protocol (Article 5 countries) must reduce and then phase-out both the production and consumption of ozone depleting substances according to a specific timetable.

These countries have committed to a 1999 freeze in their production and consumption of CFCs, to be followed by a 50% reduction by 2005, an 85% cut by 2007, and a complete phase out by 2010; they will also be required to freeze halons and methyl bromide in 2002. Developed countries almost completely phased out CFCs in 1996, except for a small number of essential uses.

The new Compliance Assistance Programme will move UNEP away from its previous project management approach. In the future, a team of UNEP staff located in UNEP's regional offices and DTIE Paris will deliver compliance assistance directly to countries on the ground. Strengthening the regional offices in this way will help deliver more projects and services to developing countries.

"The majority of the UNEP CAP team will be based in our Regional Offices where they can work more closely with countries on an ongoing basis," says Mrs. de Larderel. "Through the more direct delivery of services that is envisioned, CAP will enable UNEP to be more responsive to the needs of Article 5 countries. This innovative regional delivery approach may set a trend in supporting compliance with other Multilateral Environmental Agreements," she said.

The 36th Meeting of the Executive Committee of the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol took place from 20-22 March in Montreal, Canada.

Note to Editors: The Multilateral Fund was established by a decision of the Second Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol (London, June 1990) and began its operation in 1991. The main objective of the Multilateral Fund is to assist developing country parties to the Montreal Protocol whose annual per capita consumption and production of ozone depleting substances is less than 0.3 kg to comply with the control measures of the Protocol. These countries are referred to as Article 5 countries.

The Fund is managed by an Executive Committee and assisted by the Fund Secretariat. It is implemented by four international Implementing Agencies (UNDP, UNEP, UNIDO, World Bank) and a number of bilateral agencies. Responsibility for overseeing the operation of the Fund rests with an Executive Committee comprising seven members each from Article 5 and non-Article 5 countries. Contributions to the Multilateral Fund from the industrialized countries, or non-Article 5 countries, are assessed according to the United Nations scale of assessment.

Since 1991, the Multilateral Fund has approved investment and non-investment projects worth over US$ 1.3 billion that will result in the phase out of over 141,000 ODP tonnes in developing countries. (ODP, Ozone Depletion Potential, is a relative index indicating the extent to which a chemical product may cause ozone depletion)

For more information, contact: Mr. Rajendra Shende, Chief UNEP DTIE Energy and OzonAction Unit, Tour Mirabeau, 39-43 quai Andre Citroen, Paris 75739 Cedex 15, France or Tel: +33.1 44.37.14.50, Fax: +33.1 44.37.14.74, email: ozonaction@unep.fr, http://www.uneptie.org/ozonaction.html. Or, Robert Bisset, UNEP Press Officer on Tel: (33-1) 4437-7613, mobile: +33-6-2272-5842, email: robert.bisset@unep.fr

UNEP Information Note 2002/8