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The Montreal Protocol protects all countries from the damaging effects of ozone depletion. Under its terms, developing countries could delay controls on ozone-depleting substances and HFCs. The Protocol’s Multilateral Fund ensures financial and technical support for implementation by developing countries.

Under its headline objective of reducing inequality within and among countries, SDG10 highlights the need to ‘Implement the principle of special and differential treatment for developing countries, in particular least developed countries’ (Target 10.A). This has always been one of fundamental foundations of the ozone treaties. 

Although the depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer was first recognised over the Antarctic, without effective control of ozone-depleting substances (ODSs) it would have spread to all latitudes. This has been described as ‘a collapse of the global stratospheric ozone layer by the mid-21st century.’ This unprecedented loss of stratospheric ozone would have caused very large increases in damaging ultraviolet radiation reaching Earth’s surface. Since many ODSs are also potent greenhouse gases, their uncontrolled build-up in the atmosphere would have resulted in temperature increases of 4-6°C at the poles and over 2°C in the tropics by 2070. Without the Montreal Protocol, these profound changes in UV radiation and climate would have threatened human health, food security and ecosystems around the world. 

Uncontrolled ozone depletion posed a threat to all countries, but Article 5 of the Montreal Protocol recognises the special situation of developing countries, defined by their per capita use of ozone-depleting substances (ODSs). These Article 5 parties committed to controlling ODSs but more gradually and over a longer timescale than developed countries. Amendments to the Montreal Protocol are also applied in the same way. The most recent example is the Kigali Amendment, which controls ODS replacements – hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) – that are potent greenhouse gases. The Kigali Amendment allows Article 5 parties ‘to prioritize HFCs, define sectors, select technologies and alternatives and elaborate and implement their strategies based on their specific needs and national circumstances, following a country-driven approach.’ 

The Kigali Amendment also extends the financial mechanism established by the Montreal Protocol to provide financial and technical support for Article 5 parties to implement the Protocol. One key element of this financial mechanism is the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol. The Multilateral Fund is an exceptionally successful example of what SDG Target 10.B defines as ‘official development assistance and financial flows to states where the need is greatest, in particular least developed countries.’ Since it was established in 1990, the Multilateral Fund has received more than by US$4 billion from developed countries to support Article 5 parties through projects including industrial conversion, training and capacity building. 

The Montreal Protocol has opened new employment opportunities for women in sectors such as refrigeration and air-conditioning and agriculture. The institutions of the Protocol promote equality by striving to achieve geographical and gender balance. One example is that seven of fourteen members of the Executive Committee of the Multilateral Fund are from Article 5 countries. Geographical balance between Article 5 countries is ensured, with two members from Africa, two from Asia and the Pacific, and two from Latin America and the Caribbean. One additional member rotates between these regions, including the region of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The terms of reference of the Protocol’s Technology and Economics Assessment Panel also encourage gender and geographical balance in the Panel’s membership.