United Nations Environment Programme
The Multilateral Fund's Executive Committee established the Regional Network for Pacific Island Countries (PICs) on 12 November 2008, through its Decision 56/33. This is the newest Regional Network established under the Multilateral Fund, and with its approval, all Article 5 countries now receive Regional Networking services provided by UNEP.
Based on UNEP DTIE OzonAction'sNetworking approach successfully employed for more than a decade in other regions - but modified to take into account the special conditions of these small island developing States - this Regional Network strengthens the capacity of National Ozone Units in the PIC region for compliance with the Montreal Protocol and sustained, permanent reduction in ozone depleting substances.
The Network uses electronic tools including discussion forums, dedicated web sites, teleconference(when practical) to share information and experiences throughout the year. The Network also holds one meeting of all Ozone Officers each year.
The PIC Network is managed by the Compliance Assistance Programme (CAP) in UNEP's Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.
The financial resources for the Network's operations comes from the annual budget of UNEP OzonAction's Compliance Assistance Programme (CAP), and in-kind contributions from Australia.
The Network covers fourteen Article 5 countries in the Pacific:
As Small Island Developing States (SIDS), the PICs have unique social, economic and environmental characteristics, including geographic isolation; small physical size; limited natural resources; small economies with low diversification; poorly-developed infrastructure and limited capacity; and paucity of human and financial resources. Therefore, compared to most other Article 5 countries, the PICs face many specific problems. These problems have been well documented and are internationally recognised. 5 countries (Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu) are classified as Least Developed Countries under the criteria of UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries Landlocked Developing Countries Small Island Developing Countries (UNOHRLLS).
The PICs are among the most isolated countries geographically. They include thousands of mainly small coral and volcanic islands scattered across the Pacific Ocean from Palau in the west to Easter Island in the east. They are spread over a vast area and the distances amongst islands are quite far. Because of the long distances between countries and the small populations, travel costs both within and between countries are very high. Flights between countries are limited and in some case, it could take 2-3 days to reach the country via many stops.
While the Pacific Island countries have very low or zero consumption of ODS, they still faced similar problems and have to implement phase-out measures and activities as other Parties. More specifically, the Pacific Island countries are facing these issues:
Because of their remoteness and lack of a Regional Network until 2009, the PICs have to a certain extent left out of the mainstream of the Montreal Protocol implementation and have not benefited from sharing with their peers and learning about best practices in other regions that other Article 5 countries have enjoyed.
There is an urgent need to provide focused assistance to specific PICs to support their effort to sustain compliance to the 2010 phase-out targets.
In terms of policy settings, of some countries have ODS regulations in place, but others need further assistance with licensing systems, legislation and regulations. All of the countries need guidance on effective enforcement of the licensing system, legislation and regulations.
Pacific Island countries have historically had trouble compling with data reporting under Article 7 and reporting progress for the implementation of their country programmes to the Multilateral Fund Secretariat. The network is encouragingand assisting the countries to report their data to the Ozone Secretariat and the Multilateral Fund Secretariat on time.
Rotation and turnover by government officers is a normal occurrence in all countries. However, the impact is intensified in the PICs due to their very small government agencies and the general scarcity of human resources. The PIC network is helping to accelerate the learning curve of the new ozone officers through south-south and north-south cooperation and sharing the knowledge of more experienced ozone officers with their peers.
The accelerated HCFC phase-out schedule poses tremendous challenges to the PICs in establishing reliable baseline data and to meet the freeze and 10% reduction in 2013 and 2015, respectively.
The countries need support to design and implement measures to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Montreal Protocol by incorporating ozone protection objectives into national agendas, policies and institutions. The participation of the NOUs in the annual PIC network meeting will help keep decision-makers aware of the ongoing needs to comply with the obligations of the Montreal Protocol.
With many small islands and open spaces, PICs are particularly vulnerable to illegal trade in ODS which could undo the ODS phase out successes already achieved and threaten sustained compliance.
PICs need assistance with management of residual ODS banks to ensure adequate supplies for servicing and critical uses.