Environment: Bhutan observed World Ozone Day in the capital yesterday. Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen graced the event.

Besides being the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Ozone Ambassador, Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen also works closely with various environment agencies and organisations.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, along with representatives from various ministries, agencies and schools also participated in the event.

The theme of the World Ozone Day, 2016, was ‘Ozone and climate: Restored by a world united: Working towards uniting global warming HCFCs under the Montreal Protocol’.

The theme recognises the collective efforts of the countries around the world towards the restoration of the ozone layer over the past three decades and the global commitment to combat climate change.

Programme officer with the National Environment Commission Secretariat (NECS), Tshewang Zangmo, said Bhutan became a party to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of Ozone Layer in 2004.

“Bhutan has successfully phased out Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) in 2010, which is an ozone depleting substance (ODS) and is on track in phasing out the Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC),” Tshewang Zangmo said.

Economic affairs minister, Lekey Dorji, also a member of NECS, said the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer is an international treaty that addresses the depletion of the ozone layer by gradually phasing out the use of ODS.

“One of the successes of the treaty is that all 197 countries (including the UN states) have ratified this treaty and therefore are committed towards protection of the ozone layer by phasing out the ODS. As a result of such concerted efforts, the ozone layer is healing and is expected to recover by the middle of the century,” Lyonpo said.

In addition, the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer has significantly contributed to the mitigation of climate change by averting the emission of more than 135 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent into the atmosphere by simply phasing out ODS, Lyonpo said.

“In pursuit of implementation of such noble initiatives, leadership and commitment make all the difference. Her Majesty’s commitment to the global issue has been unwavering, and the advocacies that Her Majesty has undertaken for ozone layer protection has had extremely positive responses both nationally and internationally,” Lyonpo said.

From launching the Bhutan Ozone and Climate Plan focused on phasing out ODS to being presented with the United Nations Environment Protection Ambassadorship for Ozone at the 25th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol, we take great inspiration from Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen’s leadership to champion the cause of ozone layer not just for all Bhutanese, but for all humanity, Lyonpo said.

Commemorating the day, Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen awarded certificates of appreciation to the Department of Revenue and Customs (DRC) and the labour ministry. Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen also handed over the ODS identifiers to DRC.

Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen also launched two documents: a guideline for institutionalising paperless operation in government offices 2016, and water risk scenarios and opportunities for resilient development.

The guideline for institutionalising paperless operation in government offices 2016 provides general and specific tips and recommendations for deploying paperless initiative across the offices.

NECS officials said the guideline is based on the Life Cycle Assessment done in the three offices (Cabinet Secretariat, Department of IT and Telecom with the information and communications ministry, and NECS) and also a study conducted by the Department of National Properties in 18 government offices in 2013.

The findings of the study show that going paperless can save money, boost productivity, save space, make documentation and information sharing easier, keep personal information more secure and help the environment.

NECS approved the guideline during its 43rd meeting and it will come into effect on September 31.

The report on water risk scenarios and opportunities for resilient development is a product of the first-ever exercise in Bhutan to not only highlight the role of freshwater in the country’s economy but also explore multiple scenarios for how key water reliant sectors could evolve over the next two decades (through approximately 2035) and the implications, trade-offs, risks and opportunities to address or manage the risks.

The report was released by WWF, Bhutan.

The day ended with a screening of a short animation on Ozzy Ozone and a dance performance by the students of Motithang Higher Secondary School and Zilukha Lower Secondary School on a song based on ozone and the environment.

NECS organised the event with support from WWF, Bhutan.

Thinley Zangmo