09 Apr 2019 Story Environmental rights and governance

Countries in Africa and Asia strengthen local cooperation to prevent illegal trade of ozone depleting substances

There is growing evidence of an increasing illegal trade in ozone depleting substances such as hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and in replacement chemicals such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). There is a particular problem at present with illegal trade in HFCs in the European Union. Seizures of HCFCs continue to be made elsewhere.

Ozone depleting substances are controlled under the Montreal Protocol on substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. Under Article 4B of the Montreal Protocol, Parties must establish an enforceable national licensing system to control the import and export of ozone depleting substances. As part of the mandate of the Compliance Assistance Programme, the enforcement and strengthening of licensing systems has been included in the Programme’s annual workplan to assist in preventing the illegal trade of ozone depleting substances.

At recent meetings held in Benin and Thailand in October 2018, countries in the Francophone African Network, South Asia and Southeast Asia, recommitted to strengthening cooperation at national level between UN Environment’s National Ozone Office and customs and enforcement agencies, for robust implementation and enforcement of the national license and quota systems for ozone depleting substances and hydrofluorocarbons; and to strengthen the cooperation between countries at the regional level to prevent illegal trade of ozone depleting substances.

Although informal communications that establish the veracity of shipments between trading partners is being promoted through informal Prior Informed Consent, a number of countries have been experiencing misdeclaration or mislabeled refrigerants, posing a risk for countries of being unable to meet their obligations under the Montreal protocol and creating difficulties to manage confiscated refrigerants. There are two main aspects that need to be considered in relation to the illegal trade in ozone depleting substances. These are: monitoring of the trade in ozone depleting substances in the domestic market, and between countries.

For more information, please contact Arnold.Kreilhuber[at]un.org I Yannis.Derbali[at]un.org.