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Innovative Online Tool Helps Countries Enforce Ozone Treaty through Informal Means

Paro, 17 May 2012 – An innovative mechanism to promote formal compliance with a multilateral environmental agreement (MEA) just got better, with the United Nations Environment Programme’s release of a new online version of the Informal Prior Informed Consent on Trade of Ozone Depleting Substances (iPIC).

iPIC is a voluntary and informal mechanism of information exchange on intended trade of ozone depleting substances (ODS) between the authorities in importing and exporting countries which are responsible for issuing import/export licenses for the chemicals controlled under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. Managed and maintained by UNEP OzonAction, this mechanism helps those authorities facilitate and monitor ODS trade and avoid illegal or unwanted shipments.

The new online iPIC system was launched during the Joint Network Meeting of Ozone Officers of South Asia and Southeast Asia and the Pacific, which took place 15-17 May in the green Himalayan town of Paro, Bhutan. This launch location is symbolic because iPIC started in 2007 as an initiative to combat illegal trade in ODS through informal prior informed consent by countries in this region. Since that time, iPIC has grown significantly is now a global system with participating countries from all continents.

The advantage of an informal approach over a formal one is that communication between importing and exporting countries can be organized at the level of the operational focal points for the Montreal Protocol (the National Ozone Units), which facilitates information exchange and assists in forging informal links between staff responsible for issuing licenses or permits in importing and exporting countries.

The new online system provides iPIC participating countries with real-time, 24-hour, 7-days a week personalized access to key licensing system data in each of the participating countries. The system provides a standardized and secured repository of iPIC data. As of today, the online iPIC system contains data from 44 countries including details on more than 950 companies licensed to trade ODS, information on equipment or products with trade restrictions. More is expected to be available in the coming months as more countries elect to participate in the iPIC procedure.

The online iPIC replaces a previous mechanical method of the exchanging information about national licensing system on ODS. The new system was designed and developed by the OzonAction Information Clearinghouse to further enhance the well-accepted iPIC mechanism and make it even easier for the participating countries to use.

The online system was developed after an intensive 3-month development phase during which a number of select countries in different regions tested and critiqued a pilot version. UNEP incorporated that user feedback into the final system that was just launched in Bhutan.

Features of the online iPIC include the ability to search specific items of information sheets; interactive query and information sharing forum; ability to easily and rapidly generate various reports and statistics; ability to update an iPIC sheet with a simple click that will copy the information from a previous sheet onto a new sheet, equipped with a FAQ section (which answers basic questions) and a Help section (which thoroughly explains how to use the online system); multi-lingual capability; and interactive colour coded map displaying country iPIC information sheet status.

The system is now available to National Ozone Units and their responsible authorities at http://www.unep.org/ozonaction/ipic


For more information, please contact:

Mr. Saiful Ridwan, eGroup Coordinator, UNEP OzonAction Programme, Tel: +33 1 4437 1624; Email: saiful.ridwan@unep.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, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and 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.