By Michael Liswaniso OPUWO The Founding Father of the Nation and President of the Swapo party, Dr Sam Nujoma, was the guest speaker at the recently held celebration of the 19th International Ozone Day in Kunene’s capital of Opuwo. Nujoma who delivered the keynote speech strongly spoke against the abuse of alcohol and drugs. Speaking in Otjiherero before his official keynote address, Nujoma urged residents to refrain from such abusive activities and asked them to look at other ventures that can positively contribute to the development of the country. Moving to the theme of the day, Nujoma said: “I feel deeply honoured for the invitation to address this gathering at this momentous occasion, marking the 19th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that deplete the Ozone Layer.” Nujoma said the scientific concern that the delicate layer of ozone molecules in the stratosphere was being destroyed by man-made chemicals started way back in the early 1970s. “The ozone layer shields the earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation (UV-B). The growing concern over time prompted the governing council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to initiate discussions on this particular matter in 1976. further to that, a meeting of experts on the ozone layer was convened in 1977, after which UNEP and the World Metrological Organization (WMO) agreed to set up a coordinating committee for monitoring the Ozone Layer and to periodically assess the cause and the extent of Ozone depletion,” he stated, adding that it took 11 years of assessment, research and negotiations to promote the first general Ozone protection agreement in 1985. He pointed out that, because of alarm at the discovery of the Antarctic Ozone hole in late 1985, governments around the world recognized the need for stronger measures to reduce the production and use of ozone-depleting substances. “Following some intensive and protracted negotiations, the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the Ozone Layer was then eventually adopted on the 16th September 1987. The signing of the Montreal Protocol presented us with the reason to celebrate today.” He informed residents that Namibia has completely phased out the use of all controlled substances under its obligation. He said that despite successes that have been mapped out in the implementation of the Montreal Protocol, there is still a chain of economical and technical challenges that the country is faced with. “There is an urgent need for industries to convert their installations from Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) based technology to non-CFCs based ones. The good news is that our Ministry of Trade and Industry has created an incentive scheme to assist our industries with the new technology. The scheme provides both technical and financial support, and in this regard our industries are expected to make use of it,” he said. Adding flesh to the same bone, Nujoma said industries have come up with Ozone and climate friendly replacements. He emphasized that the only challenge was now to get government, the private sector and consumers on board so that they can switch to the new generation of appliances. “We must refrain from importing those ozone-depleting substances; equally we must refrain from buying technologies that are not CFC-free,” he urged. He called on citizens to take collective responsibility in ensuring that such developments are done in a sustainable way that does not affect the environment and the economy of the country. “It is clear that businesses that show commitment to the environment protection will be profitable in the long run.” He also warned that Ozone depletion continues to impact severely on human beings and other living organisms on the planet, adding that according to the World Health Organization’s recent reports, over 60ÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒ…ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â 000 deaths occur annually due to skin cancer, of which 90 percent are mainly caused by the ultra violet radiation from the sun. He also advised people to wear hats, caps, sunglasses and long-sleeved clothes whenever working in the sun, among others, due to the fact that the biggest Ozone hole was detected over the Antarctic region of which Namibia is part. Nujoma commended the National Ozone Unit in the Ministry of Trade and Industry for their continuous efforts to educate the nation on the potential danger at hand. And because there is a saying that goes “knowledge is power” according to the Father of the Nation, all Namibians have to pass on the message availed, so that everyone can be educated given the fact that the deadline on non-Ozone friendly substances is getting close. The deadline was set for 2010 by the Montreal Protocol, and all CFCs production facilities will be closed down globally by then. Nujoma also commended some of the industrial role-players who have taken a bold step in converting their installations to Ozone-friendly technologies. “These actions demonstrate a true sense of social responsibility,” he applauded. “The Protocol is succeeding, but the final success is not yet achieved until all Ozone-depleting substances are phased out in both developing and developed countries. The efforts of the global community to protect the Ozone Layer are a fascinating example of how humanity can act as one to face a common danger,” he noted. It is predicted by scientists that, with the full implementation of the Montreal Protocol, the Ozone hole is likely to completely disappear by 2050, according to Nujoma. The day was celebrated globally, while Opuwo was the official host in Namibia.
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