Speech by Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director, to the High Level of the 8th Conference of the Parties to the Vienna Convention and the 20th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol
Delivered on Mr Steiner's Behalf by Mr. Marco Gonzalez, Executive Secretary of the Montreal Protocol
Doha, 19 November 2008 — His Excellency the Prime Minister of the State of Qatar , His Excellency the Minister of Environment of Qatar, honourable Ministers, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen, friends and colleagues,
I would first like to thank the Government of Qatar for hosting this international gathering on protecting the ozone layer in this dynamic country of Qatar and city of Doha.
Honourable Minister the hospitality you, your government and your people have shown to delegates attending this Conference of the Parties to the Vienna Convention and Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol has been astounding.
But you have also been more than just excellent hosts but ones demonstrating creativity and indeed leadership on scientific and sustainability challenges.
The paperless initiative, being piloted here, is just such an example, which will be particularly important when together we introduce the paperless system at UNEP's Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum—the world forum for the globe's environment ministers. With this system we will achieve enormous environmental benefits.
I must also compliment the government of Qatar, the US space agency NASA and the Qatar Foundation on their plans to work together on establishing an atmospheric monitoring station in the country to fill one of the existing gaps in the global network of ground observation stations.
Atmospheric pollution and its impacts are becoming ever more complex leading to hitherto unknown phenomena such as the atmospheric brown cloud over Asia, recently assessed by UNEP scientists in Beijing.
Thus this new, cutting edge monitoring station can play a key role in plugging knowledge gaps not only on ozone but climate and local air quality. In doing so it can assist Qatar but also governments world-wide address important environmental change phenomena.
I would be keen for UNEP to work with the Government of Qatar and the various partners on show casing these initiatives to a wider audience.
Honourable Ministers, ladies and gentlemen,
One inspiring and practical answer to the challenges of recession, unemployment and economic instability is Green Growth and a transition to a low carbon economy.
Investments in energy efficiency, from developing new alternatives to ozone-depleting substances and/or green-house gasses to fuel efficient cars, can also rapidly boost employment while at the same time protecting the ozone layer and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. These – like the UNEP Green Economy initiative – are true "win-win" options.
The Vienna Convention and Montreal Protocol have been early movers on the Green Economy- you have first hand experience of such win win campaigns.
The ozone treaties have demonstrated that a dollar spent in the Green Economy can have a multiplying effect—in this case countering not only ozone destruction but also contributing to the fight against global warming.
So when considering the replenishment of the multilateral fund, consider it not as a cost to economies, but an investment in accelerating the arrival of tomorrow's 21st century economy, today.
Honourable Ministers, distinguished participants,
Many look to the Montreal Protocol as a shining example of international environmental cooperation.
It is time now to make other crucial multilateral environmental agreements work equally as well and equally as hard.
In a few short weeks many of the same governments here in Doha will be in Poznan, Poland for the next round of climate negotiations under the UN climate convention.
Take the 'can do' spirit of the Montreal Protocol to Poland.
Vienna took the world to Montreal: Poznan leads to Copenhagen in late 2009.
Like Montreal in 1987, Copenhagen 2009 needs to be a big deal in environmental terms: it needs to quickly propel the planet to the big and deep cuts needed to stabilize the atmosphere while finding the funds needed to assist vulnerable countries to adapt.
And in the spirit of Doha, perhaps Copenhagen 2009 also needs to be paperless.
Honourable delegates, I attach great importance to your deliberations here in Doha and regret that due to some very pressing issues here at UNEP headquarters I have not been able to join you.
However, the importance of the region in the quest for sustainable development and the central role of the environment in achieving this is of the highest importance.
In that regard, I would like to commend the Government of Qatar for advancing plans to establish a research centre on applied technologies for ozone protection and climate change. UNEP stands ready to assist in this endeavour and is confident that the centre will be an exemplar of excellence.
I therefore look forward to meeting environment ministers from this region and beyond in December at the Council for Arab Ministers Responsible for the Environment gathering.
Thank you delegates to the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol for your past and continuing work on the Green Economy.
Finally, I would like to express my deep appreciation to the Government of Qatar for showing, through its gracious hospitality this week and, more importantly, through the various initiatives it has announced, that, in time of crisis as well as in time of progress, the biggest stimulus package of them all is human creativity and ingenuity.
I wish you fruitful discussions.