The Regional Ozone Network in Europe and Central Asia was created in 2003 with the technical and financial support from the Multilateral Fund, the Czech Republic, Hungary and the Slovak Republic. It is now part of UNEP DTIE's OzonAction Compliance Assistance Programme and includes the following 12 member countries: Albania, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey and Turkmenistan.
Countries with Economies in Transition (CEIT countries) participate in selected network activities as long as they can finance the cost of their participation. These countries could benefit from financial support from ENPI or TAIEX. Several former ECA network countries have already acceded to the European Union and been re-classified as Article 2 countries. Therefore they cannot anymore be supported by the Multilateral Fund. Further candidate countries (Croatia, Macedonia FYR, Turkey) and potential candidate countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia) may join in the future.
The network is supported by bilateral partners such as Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland as well as international and regional organizations including the European Commission, World Customs Organization and its Regional Intelligence Liaison Offices, South-East Cooperation Initiative, Environmental Investigation Agency, International Institute of Refrigeration, Air-conditioning & Refrigeration European Association, Green Customs Partners, and recently also by the Organization for Security & Cooperation in Europe and the UN Conference on Trade & Development. Network meetings are conducted in close cooperation with the Multilateral Fund and Ozone Secretariats as well as the Implementing Agencies, UNDP, UNIDO and the World Bank.
The ECA network provides a regular interactive forum for Ozone officers from the region to exchange experiences, develop skills, and share knowledge and ideas with counterparts from both developing and developed countries in order to meet compliance, the provisions of the Montreal Protocol and its Amendments. Through regular network and thematic meetings and on-going dialogues, networking helps ensure that Ozone officers have the information, skills and contacts required for managing national ODS phase-out activities successfully.
Trade partners including the European Union, China and Russia are involved in the separate project "ECA enforcement network of Customs & Enforcement Officers" and cooperate closely on the prevention of illegal trade in ODS. During the period 2007-2009, more the 1000 metric tons of allegedly recycled CFCs were illegally traded and investigations have been initiated. Such illegal trade could have been prevented through simple phone calls or email exchanges between exporting and importing countries applying the informal Prior Informed Consent (iPIC) procedure. Therefore, the ECA network actively promotes iPIC participation. During the recent ceremony of the ECA Ozone Protection Award 2010, ten distinguished Customs & Enforcement Officers received gold and silver medals for their efforts to prevent illegal trade in ozone-depleting substances. Similar activities are planned for 2011 and 2012.
Since 2009, the ECA network also invites national refrigeration & air conditioning associations to attend network meetings for the purpose of sharing experience and to inform them on available alternatives. These RAC associations are important driving forces in phasing out HCFCs in the coming decades. Where such associations do not exist, the ECA network provides financial assistance for their creation. The bilingual (English/ Russian) ECAcool website provides a platform for information sharing and communication between RAC experts of the region: www.ecacool.org
Specific initiatives of the ECA network include the invitation of industry representatives to the network meetings to share case studies on using natural refrigerants in developing countries. A recent example is the country-wide introduction of energy-efficient and hydrocarbon-based display coolers by PepsiCo in Turkey. Due to the complete re-design of the bottle coolers, PepsiCo reduced energy consumption by up to 50 %. A Carrefour supermarket in Istanbul introduced CO2 based commercial refrigeration systems and a modern meat plant in Croatia is running on ammonia.
Since most ozone-depleting substances are also potent greenhouse gases, their replacement by ozone- and climate friendly alternatives and the promotion of energy-efficient technologies directly contributes to climate protection. In this context, a priority of the ECA network is the early introduction of policy measures, industry standards, labeling and certification schemes for refrigeration technicians and servicing companies to promote climate- and ozone-friendly as well as energy-efficient technologies.
When organising network and thematic meetings, the provisions of UNEP's Green Meeting Guide (http://www.unep.fr/scp/publications/details.asp?id=DTI/1141/PA) and UNEP's Carbon Neutral Strategy are applied to the extent possible. The ECA network joined the UNEP Carbon Neutral network in 2008 and developed its own strategy to reduce the climate impact of its operation. The first climate-friendly network was held in Tirana, Albania, 25 - 28 March 2008 aiming to minimize its carbon footprint while creating awareness on climate change and testing new approaches such as tree planting. Photos from the tree planting initiative in Albania are available from: http://fr1.estis.net/sites/ecanetwork/default.asp?site=ecanetwork&page_id=45B65BFE-73CE-4FCB-B36F-A62302B7F65A
ECA network brochure "Solidarity & Partnerships - 20 Years of Montreal Protocol - 4 Years of Regional Ozone Network for Europe & Central Asia" - a regional contribution to the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol to highlight the contributions of all stakeholders and partners to the successful implementation of the Montreal Protocol in the ECA region and to put a face to the main actors on stage and behind the scene. The brochure is in English/ Russian and was launched during MOP 2007 and the Environment for Europe Conference in Belgrade: http://www.unep.fr/ozonaction/information/mmcfiles/4869-e-ecabooklet.pdf