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Pacific Islands enforcement training peaks as freeze target looms

Bangkok, 21 December 2012 – The Pacific Island Countries (PICs) are in full speed in the national delivery of the training programme for Customs and other enforcement officers on monitoring and control of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) under the Montreal Protocol.

“The Pacific countries, being small island developing states (SIDS), are considered as a special case by the international community. When it comes to major environmental concerns like ozone layer depletion and climate change, their contribution is not as big as other nations but the negative effects to these countries are greatest. However, the PICs have shown potential in taking a leadership role in the implementation of the Montreal Protocol through effective and timely implementation of their HPMPs (HCFC Phase out Management Plans), particularly the capacity-building programmes on enforcement and the refrigeration servicing sector,” said Mr. Atul Bagai, Senior Regional Coordinator, UNEP DTIE OzonAction, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (ROAP).

Article 5 or developing countries like the Pacific countries must freeze their import of HCFCs to their baseline consumption (2009-2010 average) in the beginning of 2013. Hydrochlorofluorocarbons or HCFCs are harmful ozone-damaging chemicals commonly used in refrigeration and air-conditioning systems in homes, offices, restaurants, malls, ships and fishing vessels, etc.

The Montreal Protocol Enforcement Training Workshops in the Pacific Islands are managed by government National Ozone Officers (NOOs) with the support of UNEP’s ROAP Compliance Assistance Programme, and the Oceania Customs Organisation Secretariat (OCO). Funding assistance is provided by the Montreal Protocol Multilateral Fund (MLF) under the approved HPMP for the Pacific region.

Group photo during training workshop in Marshall IslandsThe regional HPMP covers twelve PICs - Cook Islands, Federated State of Micronesia (FSM), Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, , Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. A major component of the HPMP is institutional and human resource capacity-building of enforcement officers relating to trade controls and monitoring of HCFCs and other ODS.  Based on the data of the Ozone Secretariat, HCFCs are the major ODS imported in the Pacific islands.  The other ODS imported is Methyl Bromide used in plant quarantine and pre-shipment.

In the second half of 2012, a series of  training workshops were  conducted in the following Pacific countries: Nuku’alofa, Tonga (10-12 July), Honiara, Solomon Islands (6-10 August), Port Vila, Vanuatu (3-5 October), Majuro, Marshall Islands (7-9 November), Koror, Palau (1-2 November), and in Apia, Samoa (4-7 December). Similar capacity-building workshops will be conducted in Tuvalu from 16-18 January 2013 and in Kiribati from 23-25 January 2013.

The training workshops, attended by Customs, Environment, Quarantine, Fire and other enforcement officials,  succeeded in enhancing their capacities in effective control, monitoring and enforcement of the regulation of ODS trade and in achieving compliance with the Montreal Protocol. They were , Key stakeholders such as the customs brokers, shipping agents and the private sector were also invited. Group photo during Training workshop in Samoa

The training also aimed to provide a platform that will strengthen and enhance partnership amongst law enforcement agencies in responding to issues relating to ODS trade and control.  It was tailored to promote ownership amongst key stakeholders in terms of implementation and enforcement of  Montreal Protocol requirements.

“The challenges faced by the Pacific Islands in complying with the Montreal Protocol are truly unique. Given the very low volume of ODS consumption, one small error in import can easily lead to a case of potential non-compliance.  For example, one single non-permitted import of a 50kg cylinder of HCFC can exceed the 2013 annual HCFC quota limit in many of the PIC countries. There is very little room for error on the administration of annual HCFC quotas; all HCFC imported are for servicing,” said Ms. Artie Dubrie, Regional Network Coordinator for PICs, UNEP DTIE OzonAction, ROAP.

Group photo during training workshop in VanuatuTo sustainably manage compliance, NOOs need to monitor the type and cost of HCFC alternatives available on the local markets  both as an annual  reporting requirement to the MLF and to provide policy support in national development processes such as those of climate mitigation and energy efficiency. Another area requiring attention which can contribute to potential compliance risk is the use of ODS in the fisheries sector and for both local and foreign registered vessels. The fisheries sector is one of the largest economic activities in the Pacific Islands. To date the emphasis on ODS control has been focused on land-based infrastructures.

For more information, please contact:

Ms. Anne Fenner, Information Manager, UNEP OzonAction Programme, Tel: +33 1 4437 1454; Email: anne.fenner@unep.org.
Ms. Artie Dubrie, Regional Network Coordinator, Compliance Assistance Programme (CAP), OzonAction Branch, UNEP– Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Tel No: +66 2 288 2128, Email: dubrie@un.org

Notes to Editors

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the United Nations system’s designated entity for addressing environmental issues at the global and regional level. Its mandate is to coordinate the development of environmental policy consensus by keeping the global environment under review and bringing emerging issues to the attention of governments and the international community for action.

Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production and consumption of a number of substances believed to be responsible for ozone depletion. The treaty was opened for signature on September 16, 1987 and entered into force on January 1, 1989. Since then, it has undergone five revisions, in 1990 (London), 1992 (Copenhagen), 1995 (Vienna), 1997 (Montreal), and 1999 (Beijing). Due to its widespread adoption and implementation it has been hailed as an example of exceptional international cooperation "Perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date...”

The Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol is managed by an Executive Committee which is responsible for overseeing the operation of the Fund. The Committee comprises seven members from developed and seven members from developing countries. The 2012 Committee membership includes Belgium, Canada, Finland, Japan, Romania, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America (developed countries) and Argentina, China, Cuba, India, Kenya, Jordan and Mali (developing country members) and is chaired by Mr. Xiao Xuezhi (China). The Committee is assisted by the Fund Secretariat which is based in Montreal, Canada.