Division of Technology, Industry and Economics

Millenium Development Goals

In September 2000, at the United Nations Millennium Summit, world leaders agreed to a set of time-bound and measurable goals and targets for combating poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women. Placed at the heart of the global agenda, they are now called the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

By 2015, all 191 United Nations Member States have pledged to meet these Goals:

  • Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  • Achieve universal primary education
  • Promote gender equality and empower women
  • Reduce child mortality
  • Improve maternal health
  • Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  • Ensure environmental sustainability
  • Develop a global partnership for sustainability

How Montreal Protocol implementation contributes to the MDGs

Many of the actions associated with the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, particularly the work done through the Protocol's Multilateral Fund, supports the implementation of Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability.

Goal 7 includes a target to "Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes; reverse loss of environmental resources", which encompasses actions to implement the Montreal Protocol at the national, regional and international levels.

UNEP, through its OzonAction Branch, contributes to realisation of the Goals through its partnerships with the Multilateral Fund family of institutions.

The Montreal Protocol: Partnerships Changing the World Learn how the UNEP and the other Implementing Agencies are partnering and contributing to MDG 7

Recognition of this contribution

A seminal event took place when the heads of State and government from around the world met from 6 - 8 September 2000 on the eve of the first General Assembly of the new millennium. At this "Millennium Summit", the Secretary-General presented the report -- “We the peoples: The Role of the United Nations in the 21st Century”, which iidentified the main challenges facing the international community as it entered the twenty-first century and sketched out an action plan for addressing them.

Thus, at the very outset when the MDGs were agreed, the achievements of the Montreal Protocol and it their contribution to those Goals were recognised.

Millennium Assessment Report of the Secretary-General

"Perhaps the single most successful international environmental agreement to date has been the Montreal Protocol, in which states accepted the need to phase out the use of ozone-depleting substances"

We The Peoples - The Role of the United Nations in the 21st Century, United Nations Department of Public Information (ISBN: 92-1-100844-1), 2000, Pg 56

"In the early 1970s evidence had accumulated showing that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were damaging the ozone layer in the stratosphere and increasing the amount of ultraviolet B (UV-B) radiation reaching Earth’s surface. Since the ozone layer protects humans, animals and plants from the damaging effects of UV-B radiation, the steady increase in CFCs and other ozone-depleting substances constituted a major potential health hazard. But it took a decade and a half of increasingly intensive effort to achieve an agreement that would resolve the problem. The 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was a landmark international environmental agreement. It has been remarkably successful. Production of the most damaging ozone-depleting substances was eliminated, except for a few critical uses, by 1996 in developed countries and should be phased out by 2010 in developing countries. Without the Protocol the levels of ozone-depleting substances would have been five times higher than they are today, and surface UV-B radiation levels would have doubled at mid-latitudes in the northern hemisphere. On current estimates the CFC concentration in the ozone layer is expected to recover to pre-1980 levels by the year 2050. Prior to the Protocol intergovernmental negotiations on their own failed to mobilize sufficient support for the far-reaching measures that were needed. But intensive lobbying by civil society organizations, the presentation of overwhelming scientific evidence—and the discovery of the huge ozone hole over Antarctica—eventually created the consensus necessary for the agreement to be signed."

We The Peoples - The Role of the United Nations in the 21st Century, United Nations Department of Public Information (ISBN: 92-1-100844-1), 2000, Pg 56

"Creating new incentives also encourages the emergence of entirely new industries, devoted to achieving greater energy efficiency and other environment-friendly practices. The success of the Montreal Protocol, for instance, has created a large market for ozone-safe refrigerators and air conditioners. Nothing would be more foolish than neglecting the enormously positive role the private sector can play in promoting environmental change."

We The Peoples - The Role of the United Nations in the 21st Century, United Nations Department of Public Information (ISBN: 92-1-100844-1), 2000, Pg 65

In his 2005 report to the UN General Assembly on the progress towards achieving the MDGs, the Secretary General highlighted the implem|entation of the Montreal Protocol as a noteworthy example:

In larger freedom

"We fundamentally depend on natural systems and resources for our existence and development. Our efforts to defeat poverty and pursue sustainable development will be in vain if environmental degradation and natural resource depletion continue unabated. At the country level, national strategies must include investments in improved environmental management and make the structural changes required for environmental sustainability …We already have one encouraging example showing how global solutions can be found. Thanks to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, the risk of harmful radiation appears to be receding - a clear demonstration of how global environmental problems can be managed when all countries make determined efforts to implement internationally agreed frameworks".

In Larger Freedom: Towards Development, Security and Human Rights for All - Report of the Secretary-General, (A/59/2005), 21 March 2005

The annual report that summarizes progress made on realising the MDGs cites the Montreal Protocol as a "global success story" that continues to make progress on meeting MDG 7.

The Millennium Development Goals Reports


"A global effort to eliminate ozone-depleting substances is working, though damage to the ozone layer will persist for some time

Emissions of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) have been drastically reduced – from almost 1.5 billion tons in 1989 to 89 million tons in 2005 – since threats to the protective ozone layer were first recognized. The progress to date, 20 years after the Montreal Protocol was signed, demonstrates what can be achieved when countries act together, and in a concerted way, to resolve global environmental problems. Concentrations of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) have begun to recede in the atmosphere. However, until they diminish significantly, the ozone layer cannot begin to heal and ultraviolet radiation will continue to harm human health, crop productivity and wildlife.

Since the 1990s, every region has exceeded its commitments under the Montreal Protocol. CFCs have already been phased out in developed countries, and developing countries are on track to do so by 2010. Similarly, every region has reduced its consumption of other ozone-depleting substances. However, countries have yet to completely eliminate their use, which is in accordance with the timelines proposed under the Protocol. Complicating the issue is the fact that significant amounts of CFCs continue to be produced and traded illegally. Management of ODS stockpiles is another concern, since the cost of destroying them is high and environmentally unsound disposal methods could spew disastrous amounts of ozone depleting substances into the atmosphere. Maintaining momentum and funding for the final phase-out and for monitoring the ozone layer is crucial to a happy conclusion to this unprecedented international success story."

The Millennium Development Goals Report 2007, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, June 2007, pp 24-25.


"Protection of the ozone layer is a global success story. The 1987 Montreal Protocol catalysed global action to reduce use of chemicals damaging to the ozone layer that shields the earth from ultraviolet radiation. Since that agreement, developed countries have virtually eliminated ozone-depleting substances, and the developing world is not far behind. Without these reductions, ozone depletion would have increased tenfold by 2050 compared to current levels, resulting in millions more cases of melanoma, other cancers and eye cataracts."

The Millennium Development Goals Report 2006, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, June 2006, Pg 17.


"Action to halt further destruction of the ozone layer shows that progress is possible when the political will is there."

The Millennium Development Goals Report 2005, United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI/2390), May 2005, Pg 30.

"The ozone layer in the stratosphere absorbs ultraviolet radiation, which has been associated with rising levels of skin cancer and other harmful effects on living species. Through unprecedented global cooperation, use of chlorofluorocarbons, the most widespread ozone-depleting substances, has been reduced to one tenth of 1990 levels. This remarkable accomplishment shows that progress on the environment can be achieved with strong political will and with consensus on the problem and on how to solve it. Though damage to the ozone layer is already evident, recovery is expected within the next 50 years."

The Millennium Development Goals Report 2005, United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI/2390), May 2005, Pg 32.


"The goal of ensuring environmental sustainability has also seen both success and failure. The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer has demonstrated the effectiveness of concerted multilateral action, resulting in a large decrease in global consumption of chlorofluorocarbons, mostly in the developed countries (formerly the overwhelmingly dominant users of these gases). The consumption of these gases by developing countries has also declined by about half since 1995."

Implementation of the United Nations Millennium Declaration - Report of the Secretary-General (A/58/323), 2 September 2003, pg. 11

At UNEP's 23rd Governing Council, UNEP also highlighted progress on ozone layer protection as contributing towards MDG implementation.

UNEP's 23rd Governing Council

"Another indicator of success for Goal 7 is the world's consumption of chlorofluorocarbons …consumption in developed countries is now almost zero after legally agreed phase-outs. Consumption in developing countries stood at just over 150,000 tonnes in the mid 1990s but is now down to less than 90,000 tonnes"

23rd Governing Council To Focus on Environment and the MDGs, UNEP press release, 18 February 2005.