Speech by UNDP Country Director at the South Asia Ozone Officers Network Meeting (Inauguration Session)

28 May 2014

Speech delivered by Ms. Razina Bilgrami, Country Director, UNDP

at the Inauguration Session of the South Asia Ozone Officers Network Meeting

Colombo, Sri Lanka

27 May 2014

Hon. Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Minister of Petroleum Industries, Hon. Abdul Cader, Acting Minister of Environment and Renewable Energy, Mr. Basnayake, Secretary to the Ministry of Environment and Renewable Energy, Mr James Curlin from UNEP PHI, Mr Alejandro Pabon from the MLF Secretariat, Mr. Atul Bagai, UNEP Senior Regional Coordinator Asia Pacific, Mr. Alessandro Amadio Country Rep for UNIDO in Iran, Mr. Balaji Natarajan, Technical Specialist UNDP Asia Pacific Regional Centre Bangkok, Senior Government Officials, Distinguished Guests including Ozone Officers from 13 countries of the South Asia Network participating in this event, Concerned Stakeholders, Colleagues from the UN System, Friends from the media, ladies and gentlemen.

It is an honour and a privilege for me to address this august gathering on behalf of the United Nations System in Sri Lanka, and on behalf of the UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka Mr. Subinay Nandy, with discussions centred around the Montreal Protocol and its special effort to reduce global warming, both internationally as well as locally.

I am very pleased to share with you that although Sri Lanka is not a major emitter of Ozone Depleting Substances or Green House Gases, nevertheless, after years of dedicated work spanning over more than a decade, Sri Lanka has successfully achieved its Montreal Protocol compliance targets in advance to the levels specified under the Montreal Protocol. Sri Lanka managed to phase out Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), Halons, Carbon Tetrachloride (CTC), Methyl Chloroform and Methyl Bromide consumed in the country. Credit goes to the present and past staff of the Sri Lanka National Ozone Unit, and here I would like to make special mention of Mr. Mahendra Senevirathne and Dr. W.L Sumathipala for their immense contributions. The Ozone Programme has been instrumental in building knowledge in Sri Lanka on the subjects of Global Warming, Ozone Depletion, Health and Economic Aspects of Climate Change.

Sri Lanka is one of the first countries to successfully complete the preparation of an HCFC Phase-out Management Plan (HPMP) in the region and to secure funding for its implementation.  The country has been progressing well in the implementation of HPMP in cooperation with industry and other national stakeholders. The key enabling factors, such as the cooperation of small and medium industries, strong commitment to regulating and monitoring Ozone Depleting Substances by the Government, and systematic project implementation process, are playing an important role in the success of Sri Lanka’s HCFC Phase-out Management Plan. 

One of the assets Sri Lanka has, is a vibrant private sector as the engine of growth, which is not common in many other post-conflict countries. In that context, the support Montreal Protocol provides to the private sector, including the Small and Medium Enterprises, for adoption of environment-friendly technologies is timely. Adoption of ozone friendly technologies in a cost-effective manner would certainly improve the competitiveness of the private sector in the global market place, and in addition to contributing towards global benefits, the National Ozone Programme can help make the private-sector- led industrial growth “greener”.

At a holistic level, directly and indirectly, the HCFC phase-out plan will, amongst other things, contribute to integrating the principles of sustainable development into the country’s policies and programmes and reverse the loss of environmental resources – which is an important Millennium Development Goal Target. Here I would like to mention that Sri Lanka has also played a leading role in capacity development and training of officers of National Ozone Units of other countries such as Maldives – thus promoting South-South cooperation and institutional strengthening in these countries.

The Ministry of Environment and Renewable Energy is a long-standing partner of the UN family in Sri Lanka, and it is a pleasure and a privilege for the UN System to be part of Sri Lanka’s successful interventions. From amongst the UN agencies operating in Sri Lanka, the United Nations Development Programme i.e UNDP, has been designated as the lead agency for assisting the Government in implementing the HCFC Phase-out Management Plan in Sri Lanka. UNEP works in close partnership with UNDP and provides technical support as a cooperating agency to ensure the success of the Sri Lanka programme. UNDP has been assigned this important role in HCFC phase-out in 28 developing countries including large consumers such as China, Brazil, India, etc. which together account for over 75% of the global HCFC consumption and production.

We have several other complementary initiatives underway in the country, focused on renewable energy generation and energy efficiency. UNDP and FAO are coming together to implement a unique project on promoting biomass-based energy for industrial thermal applications. The project looks at the entire cycle of plantation-based energy generation, supply chains for processed fuel wood, and technology for generation. We are currently developing a Global Environmental Facility supported project for increased efficiency in energy generation and consumption in Sri Lanka.

Friends and Colleagues, thanks to the MP - which is the first and only international agreement that has been universally ratified by all 197 nations in the world, and has delivered and eliminated over 80% of the substances that damage the ozone layer - the ozone layer is now on a path to recovery – and is expected to be restored by 2050 or by 2070. This is a rare example of international goodwill, cooperation and collaborative action. Indeed a remarkable achievement - but more remains to be done. 

Hence your deliberations during this meeting are important!

  1. The deliberations would be an investment aiding to save lives and property from possible climate change impacts.
  2. The deliberations will be a contribution to generating and evolving knowledge in this subject area.
  3. The discussions will look at technological options with low global warming potential and energy efficient climate-friendly technologies.
  4. They will examine the ODS phase-out problem from a holistic perspective at minimum cost to industry and consumers, which is very important.
  5. They would look at options for savings in energy generation, especially in countries where oil and coal-based generation is significant, translating not only to reduced emissions but also reduced import expenditure on oil.

I thank you for taking the lead to act now to leave behind a cleaner and healthier environment for our future generations!

On behalf of the UN System in Sri Lanka, I would once again like to thank you for inviting me to this session and I wish you a very successful Networking Meeting - Thank you!