GIS - 17 September, 2014: International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer 20l4 was marked by a workshop on Capacity building for customs officers of the islands of the Indian Ocean on “Enforcement and Control Measures of Ozone Depleting Substances” which kicked off yesterday at the Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA) – Multilingual Regional Training Centre, Customs House, Mer Rouge.
The opening ceremony was graced by the presence of the Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Mr. Devanand Virahsawmy, and the Director General of the MRA, Mr. Sudhamo Lal, amongst others.
The United Nations General Assembly declared 16 September of each year International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer to commemorate the date of the signing, in 1987, of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, and to promote activities in accordance with the objectives of the Protocol and its amendments. The theme for this year’s celebration is Ozone Layer Protection: The Mission Goes On, seeking to galvanise all stakeholders to increase their efforts to address the challenges.
Parties to the Montreal Protocol are presently implementing their Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFs) Phase-Out Management Plan (HPMP) and under this plan, it is fundamental to have an efficient enforcement mechanism. In this respect, the three-day workshop is being organised to strengthen the compliance and enforcement of the provisions of the Montreal Protocol with respect to the import and export of ozone depleting substances (ODS).
Customs officers from Comoros, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Rodrigues, Reunion Island and Seychelles are participating in this regional workshop which is being conducted by resource persons from the Ozone Secretariat and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
In his address, Minister Virahsawmy underlined that the Montreal Protocol has so far been successful in meeting some of its targets on phasing out ozone-depleting substances. As a result, the abundance of ozone-depleting substances in the atmosphere is declining and the ozone layer is expected to recover around the middle of this century.
According to him, the phase-out of controlled uses of ozone depleting substances and the related reductions have not only helped protect the ozone layer for this and future generations, but have also contributed significantly to global efforts to address climate change.
The Montreal Protocol, ratified by 197 countries, is one of the most successful multilateral agreements on environmental protection, said Mr. Virahsawmy, adding that so far, 98% of ODS have been phased out and it is estimated that more than 1.5 million of cases of melanoma skin cancer in the world would be avoided by 2068, when the ozone layer is expected to fully recover.
He also recalled that the following activities are being organised by his Ministry to mark this event: handing over of three Refrigerant Identifiers to the Customs Department to track illegal entry of equipment/appliances containing HCFCs which are prohibited in Mauritius; distribution to all primary and secondary schools of an interactive DVD on ozone layer protection provided by UNEP as well as a short film in Creole on the same subject produced by the Ministry; sensitisation and awareness raising campaigns for the public on ozone layer protection through messages on billboards, airing of clips on TV and talks on radio; and distribution of umbrellas to selected target groups with the message: “Ozone Layer Protection: The Mission Goes On”.
For his part, Mr. Lal of the MRA, stated that the ability of enforcement agencies including Customs to engage promptly and effectively in the above mentioned national HCFCs HPMP is a vital determining factor in meeting the obligations of the Montreal Protocol. This Protocol, he added, relies very much on the enforcement agencies of the borders in combating illegal trade in ODS. The environmental damage caused by illegal trade is growing, and continuous efforts are required by relevant agencies to address the problem, he said.
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