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Meetings on ozone protection and the international phasing out of hydrofluorocarbons

UNEP’s OzonAction Programme and Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations are jointly organizing in Sarajevo a Regional Customs Cooperation Meeting on 20 and 21 May and the Annual Meeting of the Regional Ozone Network for Europe & Central Asia on 22 and 23 May.

The meetings take place in the context of the accelerated phase-out of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), which requires developing countries to freeze their HCFC consumption at the baseline level starting from 2013 and to achieve a 10% reduction in 2015.

Owing to the different phase-out schedules in neighbouring countries, chemicals that are already banned, restricted or expensive in some countries are still available, widely used and affordable in other countries—a situation which makes illegal trade a highly profitable business. Regional cooperation among customs and enforcement officers will therefore be crucial for monitoring and preventing this trade.

The ECA (Europe and Central Asia) Ozone Protection Award 2014 (3rd edition) will provide these officers both with an incentive and with official recognition. During the award ceremony, customs and enforcement officers from the following countries will receive medals and certificates: Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, the European Union, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Kyrgyzstan, Montenegro, the Russian Federation, Serbia, Spain, Tajikistan, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

The introduction of natural refrigerants requires specific safety measures, training and certification of service technicians to address issues of flammability, high pressure, toxicity or risk of suffocation. Research on synthetic refrigerants with low global-warming potential is also progressing and might eventually provide commercially feasible technology options.

The main objective of the ECA network meeting is to enable national ozone officers to efficiently implement their national HCFC phase-out management plans and meet the phase-out targets of the Montreal Protocol.

Participants will include ozone and customs officers from the 12 ECA network countries and 7 associated countries with economies in transition, representatives of the Ozone Secretariat, Multilateral Fund Secretariat, partner agencies (UNDP, UNIDO), bilateral partners (Czech Republic, Poland, Romania), major trade partners (China, European Union, India) as well as the Regional Intelligence Liaison Office for Eastern & Central Europe (RILO ECE), Environmental Investigation Agency and the OSCE.

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