The International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer
20 September 2022
UN Resident Coordinator, Ms. Christine N. Umutoni at the launch of a youth workshop organized by the Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Youth Empowerment.
It gives me great pleasure to be here with you today for the opening of this youth workshop to mark International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer. It is now 35 years since the Montreal Protocol to Protect the Ozone Layer was adopted. What an important milestone for humanity. This is the most successful environmental treaty to date. It ended one of the biggest threats ever to face humanity as a whole…the depletion of the ozone layer. All countries in the world signed up to phase out ozone-depleting chemicals. Without such collective and decisive action, we would be looking at a global temperature rise of an additional 2.5°C by the end of this century. This would have been catastrophic.
But by coming together the world showed that multilateralism and effective global cooperation could phase out the harmful ozone-depleting gases that were creating a hole in the sky. A hole that was causing skin cancer and cataracts and destroying vital ecosystems. Now…the ozone layer is healing. Humanity continues to be shielded from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation.
Message from the UN Secretary-General
At this time, allow me to share with you the message from the United Nations Secretary-General given on The International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, and I quote:
Today, we celebrate 35 years of the Montreal Protocol’s success in protecting the stratospheric ozone layer against synthetic chemicals that also cause climate heating. Thanks to a global agreement, humanity has averted a major health catastrophe due to ultraviolet radiation pouring through a massive hole in the ozone layer.
The Montreal Protocol is a success because, when science discovered the threat we all faced, governments and their partners acted. We adopted a global environmental agreement that has been universally ratified and decisively implemented.
The Montreal Protocol is a powerful example of multilateralism in action. With the many problems facing the world – from conflicts to growing poverty, deepening inequality and the climate emergency – it is a reminder that we can succeed in working together for the common good.
The Montreal Protocol has already contributed to tackling the climate crisis. By protecting plants from ultraviolet radiation, allowing them to live and store carbon, it has avoided up to an extra 1 degree Celsius of global warming. The Protocol’s work to phase out climate-heating gases and improve energy efficiency through its Kigali Amendment can further slow climate disruption.
But, only by mirroring the cooperation and speedy action of the Montreal Protocol elsewhere can we stop the carbon pollution that is dangerously heating our world. We have a choice: collective action or collective suicide.
On this International Day, let us pledge to emulate the cooperation shown by the Montreal Protocol to end the climate crisis and all our common challenges. And let us continue to back the Montreal Protocol’s essential work.
Partnership: UN and Mauritian Government
In his message, the Secretary-General underlines the need for cooperation and collective action to address the climate crisis. We at the UN in Mauritius value our partnership with the Government of Mauritius and recognize the strength in addressing issues such as the environment that this brings. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the government on taking action to address the country’s environmental challenges. Let me mention a few initiatives specifically:
Creation of a National Environment Cleaning Authority (NECA), under the aegis of the Prime Minister’s Office, responsible for developing a national cleaning and embellishment strategy with an Action Plan to support the country’s environmental objectives of becoming cleaner and greener.
The development and cabinet approval of a Master Plan for the Environment funded by UNDP.
The National Conference on Circular Economy funded by UNEP was a significant event to contribute to developing a roadmap for a circular economy in Mauritius.
With funding and technical assistance from Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE) launch of two reports entitled Greening the SMEs: Improving SME Access to Green Finance in Mauritius; and Industrial Waste Management - Cost Structure Review in Mauritiusprepared respectively by UNEP-FI and UNIDO.
Of course, there are many other initiatives of equal relevance that I haven’t mentioned being carried out but what is key is the collaboration that exists to address challenges that know no borders.
I am especially honoured to be here today at an event that recognizes the importance of youth and the participation of youth in the fight against the impact of climate change. The United Nations recognizes that the youth of Mauritius are central partners to drive the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals to ensure a more inclusive and green future. I can attest from my own life experience to the power of participation, specifically the importance of having youth voices taken into account in decisions that affect their lives. At 19 years old I became a leader. I championed many causes including girls' education and refugee rights. Having been born a refugee my never-ending question was – why don’t we have a homeland? You can champion any cause at any age…it could be climate change, fighting gender-based violence, teenage pregnancy, drug abuse, etc. You don’t have to wait until you are ministers or principal secretaries! One of my daughters is championing mental health and the other one is promoting girls and sports. I am happy that today you choose to do a workshop with youth, hence empowering them to promote the protection of the ozone layer.
With visionary youth, our future is guaranteed. You are not only our current and future leaders– BUT our partners in the fight to protect life on Earth for a better future for us all.
Let me conclude now by highlighting that The Montreal Protocol has much more to give. Under the Kigali Amendment to the Protocol, nations have committed to phasing down hydrofluorocarbons to avoid a 0.4°C of global temperature rise by the end of the century.
By helping the world adopt climate-friendly and energy-efficient cooling technology more people can access vital cooling technology without further warming the planet.
A world where people, nature, and economies can all thrive — is a vision that may take work but is worth the effort. We all need to come together. Global cooperation to protect life on Earth is our best chance at a brighter future for everyone.