Press releases

Friday 18 Sep 1998

Message by the executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme on the occasion of the international day for the preservation of the ozone layer, 1998

Nairobi, 16 SeptemberFor the last three years, we have set aside this time each year to reflect on the state of health of the ozone layer and raise global awareness on the importance of its preservation. The thin film of stratospheric ozone layer that shields the earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation has enabled life on earth to evolve and survive. Without this protective shield, we would be more susceptible to skin cancer, cataracts and impaired immune systems. On this day, we also commemorate the signing of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. 

We also honour people around the world - scientists, diplomats, the media, non-governmental organizations, business and the industry and ordinary citizens - who are at the heart of our continuing efforts to protect the ozone layer.

In large part because of their efforts, the implementation of the Montreal Protocol and the Vienna Convention has enjoyed unprecedented success. In the last ten years, world's consumption of ozone depleting substances has been reduced by 80%. Industrialized countries have fulfilled their commitments by nearly phasing out ozone chlorofluorocarbons and by contributing $760 million to the Multilateral Ozone Fund.

The recovery of the ozone layer will begin in a few years and will take up to the year 2060 to be complete. The slow recovery is due to the long life time of the chemicals in the atmosphere.

Yet, in the spirit of those who have struggled to prevent the further depletion of the ozone layer, we must not become complacent. Many issues remain to be resolved , many challenges remain to be met before we can be assured of the restoration of the ozone layer. The main challenge is to promote full compliance and phase out of ozone depleting substances by the developing countries, the Russian Federation and the countries with economies in transition. I am pleased that the Multilateral Ozone Fund is assisting the developing countries and the Global Environment Facility is assisting the countries with economies in transition towards this objective.

The restoration of the health of the ozone layer is a joint responsibility, involving us all. Each family, each individual can contribute to this noble endeavor. We need to be continually reminded that degradation of the environment anywhere is a threat to the preservation of the environment everywhere. Each violation wherever it occurs, can set in motion a trend. This must never be allowed to start.

This must also be an example for the changes needed to solve global problems on a global level.

As we celebrate the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, let us commit ourselves to its preservation by buying only ozone friendly products and shunning products with ozone depleting CFCs. This is the slogan chosen by UNEP for the year 1998 "Buy Ozone Friendly".

For more information:
Tore J. Brevik,
Director,
Information and Public Affairs,
UNEP Headquarters,
P.O. Box 30552, Nairobi, Kenya,
Tel.: 254-2-623292, Fax: 254-2-623927,
Email: Tore.Brevik@unep.org

UNEP News Release 1998/93

Friday 18 Sep 1998
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