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Ozone Officers Encouraged to Build on the Experience Gained to Phase out HCFCs

Lusaka 21-24 May 2012 - The Ozone Depleting Substances of Officers’ Network for English Speaking Countries (ODSONET/AF-E) held a meeting from 21-24 May 2012, in Lusaka, Zambia. The eighteenth network meeting, which is one of activities under the UNEP OzonAaction Compliance Assistance Programme, was aimed at enabling ozone officers from English speaking countries to learn from regional experiences in the HCFCs Phase out Management Plan.

The objectives of this specific meeting were to discuss the national plans and technical issues for meeting the phase out targets for the controlled substances, Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and methyl bromide; to discuss the enforcement of national regulations for the restrictions of imports and use of the controlled substances; and to discuss the cases of the remaining African countries that are yet to ratify the amendments of the Montreal Protocol and agree on how to assist them in completing their ratification processes by end of the year 2012.

During the opening session, Hon. Mr. Wylbur Simuusa, Minister of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection in Zambia said that the network meeting had contributed immensely to providing an opportunity to examine common challenges, exchange ideas and strengthen desired regional co-operation and collaboration towards meeting our binding obligations as specified in the protocol.

“The world has made tremendous progress in its efforts to protect the ozone layer, and as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol on Ozone Depleting Substances this year, it is important to recognize the results of the international co-operation for the transfer of environmentally-friendly technologies to phase out ozone depleting substances as being widely visible. It is on record that to date, the Montreal Protocol has reduced ODS by over 95%, thereby protecting the ozone layer for future generations”, the Minister added.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Jeremy Bazye, UNEP Senior Regional Coordinator for Africa- OzonAction, stressed the need for African countries to express the same dedication, energy and resourcefulness they have shown for the CFC phase out and now apply this dedication to the new challenge of phasing out HCFCs. “The Montreal Protocol requires countries to freeze consumption of HCFCs by 1 January 2013 and to reduce it by 10% by 1 January 2015. This is a big challenge and the 1st target is only a few months ahead,” he reiterated.

“The successful phase out of these substances is attributed to commitment by the African Governments to the Montreal Protocol, technical and financial assistance from the Multilateral Fund, awareness raising to all stakeholders, networking, effective implementation of the Montreal Protocol and monitoring of the Protocol’s obligations to phase out ODS”, added, Dr. Gilbert Bankobeza, Senior Legal Officer, UNEP Ozone Secretariat.

Some of the key issues discussed included how to improve on reporting cases of illegal ODS trade and how to handle and dispose seized ODS and ODS-based equipment. Recommendations made by countries were that customs officers and other enforcement agencies should be motivated through various incentives. They should also be trained, sensitized and encouraged to share information on cases of illegal trade with other countries. 

In handling and disposing of seized ODS and ODS-based equipment, countries recommended that importers should be made responsible for re-exporting or destruction, and ODS data banks should be created for storage of these equipment until cost effective destruction methods are available.

Besides HCFC-related subjects, there were discussions on the total phase out of methyl bromide which is scheduled for 2015. Deliberations were made on what assistance should be provided to countries to achieve and sustain Methyl Bromide phase-out and countries agreed that sub- regional training centers should be establishment to provide training on Methyl Bromide technologies. Sensitization of Policy and decision makers on Methyl Bromide phase-out should also be encouraged.

Furthermore the meeting was intended to increase the capacity of Ozone Officers in fulfilling their respective countries’ obligations under the Montreal Protocol, it was important to note that these officers rely on the decisions of their policy makers. The Officers were therefore advised to work closely with their governments and were urged to remain committed to them as they phase out HCFCs. They were also encouraged to build on the experience gained over many years through networking forums such as this one.

For more information, please contact:

Mr. Jeremy Boubie Bazye, Senior Regional Coordinator, Compliance Assistance Programme (CAP), UNEP Regional Office for Africa/ Ozone Unit, Tel: +254 20 7624281, E-mail: jeremy.bazye@unep.org