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UNEP Executive Director ImageMore than thirty years ago, in 1981, in the wake of growing scientific concern, negotiations started on the first international convention for the protection of Earths ozone layer. The cause of ozone depletion was not then clear – though suspicion had already fallen on chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) and other similar chemicals – so the agreement that emerged four years later, in March 1985, contained pledges to cooperate in research and monitoring, to share information on CFC production and emissions and to adopt control protocols if and when warranted. This was the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer – which led, just two years afterwards, to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. Although the Montreal Protocol, which establishes phase-out targets for categories of ozone-depleting substances, is much better known, it should not be forgotten that it was the Vienna Convention which provided the essential framework within which to negotiate those targets and the more detailed provisions of the Protocol.

The regime established by the two agreements together stands as one of the most successful examples of international cooperation to tackle a major global environmental threat. Among the objectives of the Convention is for Parties to promote cooperation by means of systematic observations, research and information exchange on the effects of human activities on the ozone layer and to adopt legislative or administrative measures against activities likely to have adverse effects on the ozone layer. This objective has largely been achieved – according to the latest scientific assessment of ozone depletion, the ozone layer over the mid-latitudes (30–60 degrees north and south) should recover by 2049, and over the Antarctic by 2065. The ozone layer outside the polar regions is already showing signs of recovery – a significant achievement.

The Vienna Convention itself remains an important part of the international ozone regime, providing the forum for discussions on scientific research and observations of the ozone layer. The online publication of this Handbook for the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer (1985) incorporates the full text of the treaty and an updated list of all decisions adopted by the Conference of the Parties to the Vienna Convention to date.

I commend this Handbook to all prospective users and hope that they will continue to find it a valuable source of information on the decisions of the Parties and relevant information on the science of the recovery of the ozone layer.

Achim Steiner
Executive Director
United Nations Environment Programme

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