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     UNIS/SG/2350
     1 September 1999
    Secretary-General Urges Individuals, Offices, Industries to Do
    All They Can to Be ‘Ozone-Friendly’

    Kofi Annan Says World Community Has Risen Enthusiastically
    To Challenge of Protecting Ozone Layer, Stresses Need for Continued Effort


     

    NEW YORK, 31 August (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan for the occasion of the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, which will be observed on 16 September:
     

     The global effort to "Save Our Sky" from ozone-depleting substances is working.

     The 1985 Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer have spearheaded a transition away from chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other ozone-depleting chemicals.  Indeed, the transition has occurred more rapidly than many thought possible, even as the controls called for under the treaties have been made steadily stricter.

     The industrialized countries have phased out most of their production and consumption of the most widely used ozone-depleting substances and provided more than $950 million to the fund established by the Protocol to assist developing countries in their phase-out activities.  The Global Environment Facility, operated jointly by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Development 
    Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank, has disbursed more than $130 million to the Russian Federation and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

     According to the most recent scientific assessment carried out by an international panel of experts under the aegis of the treaty, the level of ozone-depleting gases in the stratosphere will soon peak.  Assuming the Montreal Protocol is implemented fully, the ozone layer will recover and return to normal by the middle of the next century.

     This is a major achievement for the international community, showing how governments and industries, working with the United Nations, can cooperate to ward off a global threat.  But this is no time for complacency.  Twenty countries have yet to ratify the ozone treaties, and many more have not ratified important amendments to the Protocol.  Some countries are having difficulty complying.  Illegal trade in CFCs has increased.  The phase-out in the developing countries only just began, on 1 July.  And the adverse impact of global warming on the stratosphere, which contains the ozone layer, is only beginning to draw attention.  The threat to life on earth remains.  Millions of cases of skin cancer and eye cataracts are among the dangers that lie in our path if we do not sustain our momentum.

     Alternative ozone-friendly technologies and products are now available throughout the world.  I urge every individual, office and industry to review their homes and premises and do all they can to be ozone-friendly.  United Nations offices are taking significant steps in this regard and UNEP has issued guidelines outlining a variety of measures that could be taken.

     The world community has risen enthusiastically to the challenge of protecting the ozone layer since the problem was first diagnosed.  Let us continue these efforts -- and let us be inspired by this example as we tackle the other pressing environmental issues on our agenda.

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