The consultative meeting was held to explore ways to accelerate ratification of the Montreal Protocol and its Amendments to protect the stratospheric ozone layer.
Participants included the national ozone focal point and high-ranking officials from the Ministries of Environment, Finance and Foreign Affairs from Albania, Armenia, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, and Poland. Representatives of GEF, UNEP, TEAP, UNDP, and Bilateral Governments also participated.
Mr. Indulis Emsis, State Minister for Environmental Protection in Latvia, welcomed the participants to the meeting and expressed that "the process of phasing out ozone depleting substances (ODSs) will not be easy given the economic and political transition in Latvia and other central and eastern european countries. But the ODS phaseout is necessary and is part of implementing sustainable economic development."
Mr. Rajendra Shende, Ozonaction Programme Coordinator at UNEP IE, stated that "the developed countries have phased out CFCs as of the 1st of January 1996, except for limited quantities allowable under the Protocol. Many developing countries are well ahead of the schedule in their phaseout efforts under the Multilateral Fund. However, the phaseout in CEIT countries remains a key challenge. These countries need to be drawn into the mainstream of the Protocol process."
One important outcome of the two-day meeting was a joint statement by the participating countries which expressed their commitment to protect the ozone layer and their concerns related to ratification of the Montreal Protocol and its Amendments. The joint statement reads:
"The following countries participated in the Intergovernmental Consultative Meeting for CEITs on the Montreal Protocol in Riga, Latvia on 4-5 November 1996, which was organized by UNEP IE and the Republic of Latvia, with funding from the GEF and bilateral governments: Albania, Armenia, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Moldova.
These countries continue to be committed to the protection of the stratospheric ozone layer and the provisions of the Montreal Protocol and its Amendments. However, they wish to make the Implementation Committee and the Parties to the Protocol aware of the following:
A. They are concerned about their inclusion on a list of countries in arrears of payment to the Multilateral Fund, specifically because they have not ratified the London Amendment;
B. Because of the unique geo-political and historical factors in the region, special treatment should be granted to these countries in respect to compliance with provisions of the London Amendment; and
C. Some countries wish to be classified (Armenia) or re-classified (Georgia and Moldova) as countries operating under Article 5 of the Montreal Protocol"
Estonia and Moldova announced at the meeting that their governments recently ratified the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol, and the Polish government announced that it recently ratified the London and Copenhagen Amendments to the Protocol.
Mr. Frank Rittner, GEF Secretariat, noted that "ratification of the Montreal Protocol and the London Amendment by CEIT countries is crucial to their inclusion in the Montreal Protocol process and accessibility to funds from the GEF."
Countries that have ratified the Montreal Protocol are eligible for GEF funding to complete their Country Programmes, but only those that have ratified the London Amendment are eligible for funding of technical assistance and investment projects for the phaseout of ODSs.
The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer is the international environmental agreement that has galvanized global cooperation to protect the stratospheric ozone layer. The Protocol was signed by 24 countries in 1987 and as of October 1996, has been ratified by 159 countries, or Parties to the Protocol.
Implementation of the Montreal Protocol has proven to be extremely difficult for most of the CEIT countries, who are undergoing tremendous political and economic transition.
When the Montreal Protocol was signed in 1987, only 8 of the 27 CEITs were independent states.
As of October 1996, 22 of the 27 CEIT countries have ratified the Montreal Protocol, while only 10 of the 27 have ratified the London Amendment.
UNEP IE, as one of the implementing agencies under the Global Environment Facility, works with CEITs to provide information and develop National Strategies to phaseout ODSs.
Through information exchange, training, networking, country programmes and institutional strengthening projects, the OzonAction programme enables CEITs to implement appropriate policies and technological decisions.
For further information, please contact Rajendra M. Shende, OzonAction Programme Coordinator, UNEP IE, at 33-1-4437-1450 (Tel), or 33-1-4437-1474 (Fax).
UNEP Information Note 1996/25•