Our Planet News
Thailand bans production and import of CFC refrigerators
Thailand is the first developing country to ban the production and import of domestic refrigerators made with CFCs. The Thai Government's ban, effective on 1 January 1997, comes only one year later than the deadline imposed on developed countries by the Montreal Protocol.
Thailand's commitment to phase out the use of ozone depleting substances (ODS) in domestic refrigerators dates back to 1992, when a Thai Government, United States Environmental Protection Agency and Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry trilateral conference recommended 'as rapid a phase-out as possible in this sector', and secured a pledge from foreign companies that they would not delay introducing to Thailand technologies they had perfected at home.
Meeting the tight schedule has required close cooperation between the Government, the refrigerator manufacturers, and the local compressor manufacturers. Competitors joined together to accomplish what would have been impossible to achieve alone.
UNEP has briefed ODS officers from neighbouring countries about the Thai approach and, as a result, they have strengthened their own plans for phasing out consumption of ODS.
Commitment to APELL reaffirmed
More than 70 senior level experts met in Paris in October 1996 to reaffirm their commitment to accident prevention and to emergency preparedness through UNEP's Awareness and Preparedness for Emergencies at Local Level (APELL) programme. Representatives of governments, industry, non governmental organizations and intergovernmental organizations from 33 countries took part in the event organized by UNEP's Industry and Environment Programme Activity Centre. The purpose of the meeting was to report on the progress of APELL and APELL-related activities around the world, and advise on future orientations. Recommendations were made for the future direction of the APELL programme, including a specific focus on accident prevention and emergency preparedness in ports, in pipelines and during the transport of dangerous goods. It was also recommended that UNEP should increase its role as a catalyst and facilitator to disseminate and exchange information through new networks, and target all relevant government departments (in particular civil defence) and all industry sectors (in particular, the oil and gas industry).
UNEP has finalized the report Implementation of UNEP Programme 1994-1995, which provides comprehensive information on all projects undertaken during the last biennium. Prepared by the Corporate Planning and Accountability Services in collaboration with all managers, the document is a valuable tool for the internal management of the organization. This factual report is complementary to the information provided in the UNEP Highlights of the Biennium 1994-1995, which emphasizes the results achieved during that period.
Ozone expert dedicates award to UNEP
K. Madhava Sarma, Executive Secretary of the Ozone Secretariat based at UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, has been chosen by the United States Environmental Protection Agency to receive one of the 1996 Ozone Protection Awards.
'UNEP has been a leading force in ozone protection since its birth in 1972,' said Sarma. 'This award is a great personal honour and also a recognition of the good work of the professionals and general service staff of the Ozone Secretariat. But it is more for UNEP than for me and I dedicate it to the organization.'
The leader of Indian delegations to many international meetings on global environmental issues, Sarma was one of the co-sponsors of the provisions of many of the amendments, relating to developing countries, to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, including Technology Transfer and the Financial Mechanism. Since 1991, he has been the Coordinator of the Secretariat for the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol.
Scientist from India awarded
UNEP's Sasakawa Environment Prize for 1996 has been awarded to Dr. Triloki Nath Khoshoo, a scientist from India, for his outstanding contributions to the protection and management of the environment.
For more than 30 years, Dr. Khoshoo has been an advocate of strong regional environmental planning for long-term ecological and economic security, particularly in the developing country context.
'Dr. Khoshoo's conservation work in cytogenetics, biological diversity, biomass production and environmental research and development has been significant and his efforts have earned him a place as a leader in the environmental field,' said Elizabeth Dowdeswell, UNEP's Executive Director.
New partnerships to reduce greenhouse gases
Forging new partnerships to reduce the build-up of greenhouse gases was the focus of an informal international meeting convened by UNEP, in conjunction with the Earth Council and the Government of Costa Rica, in San José, Costa Rica, in October 1996.
Representatives from 50 countries participated in the meeting and discussed ways in which they can cooperate to reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by advancing the consideration of a range of issues related to the concept of Activities Implemented Jointly (AIJ).
The concept of AIJ is viewed as a means of stimulating additional investment and promoting the co-development of advanced technologies that could reduce the rate of the build-up of greenhouse gases and achieve the objective of the first Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, while advancing national economic development priorities. Recognizing the importance given to technology transfer under the Convention, the current AIJ Pilot Phase encourages new partnerships between North and South.
Global leaders celebrate cities
A joint celebration by global leaders and local government representatives from different parts of the world took place in October 1996 in Lisbon, Portugal, on the occasion of the second European Conference on Sustainable Cities and Towns. The event was organized by the Global Action Plan, the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) and the Earth Council. Special guests included Dr. Klaus Toepfer, German Minister of Housing; Dr. Diez-Hotchleitner, President of the Club of Rome; and Jaime Lerner, Governor of the State of São Paolo. Alicia Bárcena represented the Executive Director at the event and made a presentation on UNEP's Global Environmental Citizenship Programme. Through this Programme, UNEP has been a key partner with ICLEI in the development of the Local Guide for Agenda 21.
http://www.unepie.org - UNEP's Industry and Environment Programme Activity Centre has opened a new service on the Internet's World Wide Web (WWW) that provides governments, industry, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders with information about UNEP's initiatives in sustainable production and consumption. This site is part of UNEP IE's continuing initiative to encourage and support the adoption of environmentally sound technologies and environmental management methods through worldwide information exchange.
http://www.unepie.org/ozonaction.html - UNEP's OzonAction Programme under the Multilateral Fund has opened a new information exchange service that opens a window to technical and policy information related to the protection of the stratospheric ozone layer. One of UNEP's responsibilities as an Implementing Agency under the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol is to provide a clearing-house function to assist developing countries with their phase-out of ozone depleting substances (ODS). UNEP's OzonAction Programme (located at the UNEP Industry and Environment Programme Activity Centre in Paris) provides industry, governments and other stake-holders in developing countries with information exchange services, training and workshops, and networking of ODS Officers.
Joint environmental action plan for 1997
In Montreal, Canada, in October 1996, the Executive Director of UNEP and David McDowell, Director-General of IUCN, used the occasion of the IUCN's World Conservation Congress to announce their 1997 Joint Action Plan. The Plan points to three priorities for action - environmental law, biodiversity and trade.
Under the Action Plan, the two organizations will pool their expertise, experience and resources to develop an environmental law information system and assist governments in the preparation of biodiversity action plans under the Convention on Biological Diversity. They will also help governments and non-governmental organizations to ensure that the environment is firmly entrenched in global trade discussions. Another key component of the Action Plan is the commitment by both organizations to develop environmental cooperation on a regional basis. Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean and Europe have been identified as target regions for 1997.
Biodiversity secretariat formalized
The Executive Director and Canada's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Robert Fowler, signed the host country agreement for the Secretariat for the Convention on Biological Diversity in October 1996. The agreement formalizes the legal arrangements that allow the Secretariat to carry out its day-to-day operations. The previous week, the Executive Director used the occasion of her participation at the IUCN Congress to visit the permanent headquarters of the Secretariat on the Convention for Biological Diversity in Montreal.
The 1996 International Conference on Ozone Protection Technologies was held in Washington, D.C., in October 1996. The meeting was the pre-eminent gathering of technical experts, industry, government and environmental group representatives on the latest technological advances in the effort to eliminate ozone depleting substances. More than 1,300 people, from more than 30 countries, attended the gathering, and heard key-note remarks from Elizabeth Dowdeswell and Harry Reid, United States Senator from Nevada.
Agricultural research needs assessed
The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) International Centres Week took place in October/November 1996 in Washington, D.C. The Week's activities included commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the CGIAR; a forum on current and future research; a global forum looking at the needs and opportunities for agricultural research and practical measures to strengthen partnerships; and the CGIAR business meeting which focused on research direction and the 1997 financial plan.
Cleaner Production in China:
A Story of Successful Cooperation,
Industry and Environment, UNEP, 1996.
This summarizes a remarkable story of successful cooperation between international organizations, national and local government agencies, and local industries which has led to substantial reductions in pollution and waste in a number of Chinese enterprises.
A full list of UNEP publications (right), as well as the publications themselves, is available from SMI (Distribution Services) Ltd., P.O. Box 119, Stevenage, Hertfordshire SG1 4TP, UK. Fax: +44 1438 748884; tel: +44 1438 748111