On 16 September 1987, the treaty known as the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was signed into existence by a group of concerned countries that felt compelled to take action to solve an alarming international environmental crisis: the depletion of the Earth’s protective ozone layer. Since that humble beginning two decades ago, this treaty has taken root, grown and finally blossomed into what has been described as “perhaps the single most successful international environmental agreement to date”. It has become an outstanding example of developing and developed country partnership, a clear demonstration of how global environmental problems can be managed when all countries make determined efforts to implement internationally-agreed frameworks. But why has it worked so well, how has it impacted our lives, what work lies before us, and what lessons we can learn from it?
The story of the Montreal Protocol is really a collective of hundreds of compelling and newsworthy individual stories which are waiting for the right voice. There are cautionary tales of the need to avoid environmental problems at the start. There are inspiring stories of partnership, innovation and countries working together for the common good. There are stories of hope, of humanity being able to successfully reverse a seemingly insurmountable environmental problem while balancing economic and societal needs. Beyond numbers and statistics, the Montreal Protocol is above all a story with a human face, showing how the consequences of a global environmental issue can affect us as individuals – our health, our families our occupations, our communities – and how we as individuals can be part of the solution.
This year, the 20th anniversary of this landmark agreement, affords us all the opportunity to investigate these stories. Each country and region, their institutions and individuals, have all made major contributions to the protection of the ozone layer, and their stories must be told. We want to enlist the help of journalists in telling this story, and through this publication, we are trying to assist in these broad communications efforts.
This Vital Ozone Graphics, the youngest product in a series of Vital Graphics on environmental issues, provides journalists with the essential visuals, facts, figures and contacts they need to start developing their own ozone story ideas. The graphics and figures can be used in articles readymade. We want the information in this publication and the associated web site to inform and inspire journalists to go out and investigate this story and to tell the ozone tale – the good and the bad – to readers, viewers or listeners.
Vital Ozone Graphics was produced jointly by the OzonAction Branch of UNEP’s Division on Technology, Industry and Economics (DTIE) and GRID-Arendal, as part of an initiative to engage journalists on the ozone story, with support provided by the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol.
While specifically targeted at members of the media, we believe that anyone interested in learning about the Montreal Protocol and ozone layer depletion will find this publication to be an interesting and insightful reference.
I hope the reading of the coming pages is not only enjoyable, but will stimulate the creative juices of the media and trigger broader coverage of the ozone protection efforts in newspapers and on radio, TV and the Internet across around globe.
United Nations Under-Secretary General
Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme