Who we are

UN Environment Programme taking action on the Montreal Protocol

Under the landmark Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, all countries in the world are taking specific, time-targeted actions to reduce and eliminate their production and consumption of man-made chemicals that destroy the stratospheric ozone layer, Earth’s protective shield. The objective of the Montreal Protocol is to protect human health and the environment by phasing out nearly 100 industrial chemicals known as ozone depleting substances (ODS) - which include hydrofluorocarbons (HCFCs), chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons, methyl bromide, carbon tetrachloride and methyl chloroform - and phasing down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are potent greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. All 197 UN Member States have ratified this multilateral environmental agreement, the only international treaty to have universal membership, and both developed and developing (Article 5) countries are working to achieve the Protocol’s objectives.

Article 10 of the Montreal Protocol established the treaty’s financial mechanism, known as the Multilateral Fund, to meet the agreed incremental costs of developing countries’ compliance and to finance a clearinghouse function. The latter includes:

  • Identifying their needs for co-operation through country-specific studies and other technical co-operation.
  • Facilitating technical co-operation to meet these identified needs.
  • Distributing information and relevant materials, and hold workshops, training sessions, and other related activities.
  • Facilitating and monitoring other multilateral, regional and bilateral co-operation available to developing countries.

UN Environment Programme (UNEP) became an Implementing Agency of the Protocol’s Multilateral Fund on 19 June 1991, and it was given this clearinghouse mandate. Since that date, UNEP OzonAction has been strengthening the capacity of governments - particularly the operational focal points for the Montreal Protocol, known as National Ozone Units (NOUs) - and industry in developing countries to elaborate and enforce the policies required to implement the Protocol and to make informed decisions about alternative technologies. Our overall goal is to enable those countries to meet and sustain their compliance obligations under the treaty.

OzonAction is part of UNEP's Law Division.

OzonAction serving developing countries through CAP

OzonAction has 147 developing country clients that cover a broad spectrum in terms of population, geographic size, location, and level of ODS consumption and production, ranging from Niue, the smallest consuming country, to China, the largest. This varied client base also includes 48 countries classified by the UN system as Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and 38 countries classified as Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

In 2002, OzonAction created the Compliance Assistance Programme (CAP) to deliver the clearinghouse mandate and to serve these countries. The majority of CAP staff are located in UN Environment’s Regional Offices, where they closely interact with NOUs on a day-to-day basis to support and sustain compliance with the Montreal Protocol. This regional delivery mechanism and operational closeness to the NOUs is a distinct feature of the CAP.  

OzonAction provides developing countries with interconnected and mutually-supporting CAP services and project support in accordance with a 3-year rolling strategy. This strategy is based on the current and anticipated needs of the countries, focusing on specific compliance obligations, low-volume ODS consuming countries (LVCs), and the refrigeration servicing sector. For 2018-2020, OzonAction’s objectives are:

CAP 2019

To most efficiently help developing countries, OzonAction maintains a strong collaborative partnership with the Ozone Secretariat, the Multilateral Fund Secretariat and other Implementing Agencies – UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), and the World Bank – as well as with bilateral agencies, professional and industry associations, and non-governmental organisations.

Our core services

OzonAction provides developing countries with the following core services:

  • Regional Networks of Ozone Officers. A highly-successful and cost-effective capacity-building mechanism that promotes the exchange of information, experience and know-how required to meet the Montreal Protocol commitments, report data, set and enforce policies, adopt technologies and effectively manage the NOUs.
  • South-South cooperation. A facility provided by CAP that enables targeted cooperation between two or more countries on specific technical or policy challenges facing developing countries in the implementation of the Montreal Protocol. This can take the form of missions, short-term NOU staff exchanges, or provision of expertise.
  • Capacity building. Training, information and support services that help developing countries build the national capacity of strategic stakeholders – notably customs officers, refrigeration technicians, and Ozone Officers –  to create the necessary enabling environment for the effective implementation of national Montreal Protocol programmes.
  • Information Clearinghouse. A global information, communication, education service that provides NOUs and other stakeholders with publications, e-services and other tools that can be used for national information and awareness campaigns in support of Montreal Protocol objectives.
  • Compliance assistance services. Country-specific support provided by CAP staff designed to address the individual compliance-related needs articulated by NOUs.
  • Project support. Technical and project assistance for HPMPs, IS projects, ODS alternatives surveys, Enabling Activities and technical assistance/demonstration projects.

Helping countries prepare for the HFC phase down

A key upcoming challenge for developing countries will be to simultaneously implement the timely phase out of their remaining HCFC consumption while at the same time preparing for the phase down of HFCs. This is particularly crucial for the refrigeration and air conditioning servicing sector, which represents the majority of HCFC and HFC consumption in most countries. In the new era of the Kigali Amendment, countries need to ratify the amendment, ensure legal preparedness by adjusting laws and regulations, and adopt energy-efficient and climate-friendly technology that is good for the environment and their industry’s bottom line.

OzonAction is working to ensure that Article 5 countries experience a seamless transition to this new climate and ozone-friendly world with minimal disruptions. Our goal is to help them make a “quick start” on this HFC job, while at the same time not distracting them from reaching their existing targets. CAP is helping to create high-level awareness about Kigali Amendment, which may result into reductions in the growth of HFCs and thereby reduce future costs to both the Multilateral Fund and the environment.


UN Taking Action on the Montreal Protocol