Statement by Mr. Subinay Nandy on International Ozone Day 2015

Your Excellency, The President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirisena

Honorable Deputy Minister of Mahaweli Development & Environment

Honorable Secretaries of Ministries

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honor to join you today to celebrate the International Ozone day for the year 2015. I Congratulate the National Ozone Unit of the Ministry of Mahaweli Development & Environment for organizing this important event today. This is a very opportune time for Sri Lanka and the World.

Indeed, 2015 marks the 30th anniversary since the signing of the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer. It is one of the most successful treaties, whereby 197 nations worked together to successfully eliminate over 98% of controlled ozone depleting substances, helping reverse the damage to the ozone layer.

The UN, and UNDP in particular, is privileged for the opportunity to contribute to successful implementation of the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol globally and in Sri Lanka in particular. For the past two decades, the National Ozone Unit, with the support of UNDP, implemented regulations and policies stipulated in the Montreal Protocol to control substances that deplete the ozone layer. During these years, the National Ozone Unit has been able to make remarkable progress towards phase-out targets for some of the most aggressive ozone depleting substances (ODS). As many of these substances also have a high global warming potential, their elimination has contributed to reducing Sri Lanka’s emission of greenhouse gases.

Although ozone-depleting substances are no longer produced, thousands of tons of these substances are still contained in existing equipment and buildings. In many cases, it is possible to recover and reuse these chemicals in a safe manner. I am pleased to note that Sri Lanka has created a strong platform for such a recovery, recycling and reclaim system, through the setting up of eight refrigerant reclaim centers to be operational around the island. We believe that these centers will be a major catalyst in the reduction of the release of ozone depleting substances from the country. Such actions will prevent the release of chemicals into the atmosphere and avoid significant environmental damage that would reverse much of the good work done so far.

The depletion of the ozone layer is part of the larger cause of Global Warming and Climate change. This December in Paris the 2015 Paris Climate Conference will, for the first time in over 20 years of global negotiations, aim to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate change.

2015 is indeed a landmark year – and an important one to guide the post 2015 development agenda.  Later this month, H.E The President will join all world leaders in New York to endorse the shift from Millennium Development Goals to the Sustainable Development Goals. I would like to take a moment here to congratulate Sri Lanka for having been exceptionally successful in achieving most of the Millennium Development Goals.

The sustainable development goals that will be adopted in New York, will accord significant prominence to the challenges related to climate change and global warming. Three out of the 17 suggested goals are directly linked to the protection of environment. Environmental treaties and acting upon them to ensure a sustainable environment for the Sri Lankan people and people worldwide.

I note with pleasure that the National Ozone Unit has received global and national recognition for its efforts in phasing out Ozone Depleting Substances and was recognized as one of the best countries implementing the Montreal Protocol. In recognition of Sri Lanka’s exceptional performance, the NOU’s former Director was appointed President of the Implementation Committee of the Montreal Protocol in 2007-2008, to provide guidance to countries still lagging behind in targets to be achieved under the MP Agreement.

I am confident that under the leadership and direct guidance of President Sirisena Sri Lanka’s remarkable efforts in this area will continue in the years to come.  The UN remains committed to support the country in this important journey and in particular, in the successful implementation of the post SDG agenda.

 

Thank you.

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