UNEP Wins 2005 Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award
Washington/Paris, 4 May 2005 – For the first time ever a UN program, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), has won the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award.
The prestigious prize, presented today here in Washington DC, has been awarded to the Paris-based OzonAction Branch of UNEP’s Division of Technology, Industry and Economics.
Announcing the Award, the US EPA praised the “leadership and innovation of the OzonAction Programme” and said it has benefited well over 140 countries through its unique regional networks of National Ozone Units and global information clearinghouse”.
“The appreciation of the award panel highlighting UNEP’s leadership and innovation is not only rewarding but also encouraging for our further work,” said Klaus Toepfer, UNEP Executive Director. “The Montreal Protocol is succeeding in its objective of phasing out the global production and consumption of ozone depleting substances, but there is still much work left to be done, particularly in developing countries,” he said.
Accepting the award on behalf of UNEP, Rajendra Shende, head of the OzonAction branch said, “The award reminds us of what can be achieved when the commitment of the poorest nations to protect the Earth for future generations is combined with the resolve of the richest countries to do their part for peace, prosperity and environmental health. What you get are amazing global success stories that go beyond conventional thoughts and immensely benefit humanity,” he said.
Global efforts to protect the stratospheric ozone layer were formalised through an international treaty agreed in 1987 called the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone layer.
The ozone layer, which absorbs ultraviolet radiation harmful to living organisms and human health, is in danger from several chemicals currently used in industry and agriculture such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons, carbon tetrachloride, methyl chloroform and methyl bromide.
“The treaty is bearing fruits,” said Shende. “According to the best scientific knowledge the chemicals that have been destroying the ozone layer are now ’at or near peak,’ and could begin to dissipate slowly — if nations stay the course.”
The participation in the effort is almost universal with 189 countries having ratified the Protocol. And the international agreement is increasingly being recognised as a rare and important multi-lateral success story. In his recent report entitled, “In Larger Freedom: Towards Development, Security and Human Rights for All,” UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, described the Montreal Protocol as an “encouraging example showing how global solutions can be found.”