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Ozone Statue Unveiled in Vienna to Mark Montreal Protocol Anniversary

VIENNA, 21 November 2012 - As part of ongoing celebrations to mark the 25th anniversary of one of the world's most successful environmental agreements, a statue dedicated to protecting the ozone layer was officially unveiled today at the Vienna International Centre in Vienna.

The 3.9 metre high sculpture, which depicts the Chinese Goddess Nwa, was produced by celebrated artist Yuan Xikun, who also acts as a Patron for Arts and Environment for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

In Chinese mythology, Nwa smelted a seven colour stone to block a hole in the sky to repair the wall of heaven. Yuan Xikun chose the figure of Nwa to draw parallels with modern-day challenges of ozone depletion and climate change.

The unveiling of the statue in Vienna was hosted by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), in partnership with UNEP's OzonAction Branch.

UNEP and UNIDO, as implementing agencies of the Montreal Protocol, have been assisting developing countries and countries with economies in transition to achieve and sustain compliance with the Protocol.

"I am donating this sculpture to the United Nations as a sign of my commitment to support the organization in its efforts to protect the earth, especially for future generations," said Yuan Xikun.

The sculpture has now found a permanent home in Vienna following an earlier exhibition in Beijing, China, where it was unveiled by the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team. The artwork has also been exhibited in Times Square in New York.

Attending the event in Vienna were, among others, Zhao Bin, Ambassador of China to Austria; the deputy of the Director-General of UNIDO, Taizo Nishikawa; Sidi Menad Si-Ahmed, UNIDO Montreal Protocol Branch; and James S. Curlin, Interim Head of the UNEP OzonAction Branch.

"I would like to reiterate UNEP's profound appreciation to Yuan Xikun for his sincere commitment to using his art to promote awareness of sustainable development - this time by donating this great symbol of action for conserving the ozone layer and combating climate change, his monumental statue of the Goddess Nwa," said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director.

China is using the Goddess Nwa as a brand for a communication campaign to reduce and phase out the use of chemicals known as hydrofluorochlorocarbons (HCFCs), which degrade the ozone layer. These chemicals are mainly used in domestic and commercial refrigeration, air-conditioning and industrial foam.

"We are honored to have this work of art at the Vienna International Centre. It will symbolize one of most successful treaties in UN history - the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, which 25th anniversary we celebrate this year," said Director General Yumkella. The inauguration of the "Sky-Patching: Goddess Nwa" serves as a great opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the Montreal Protocol. The sculpture stands at the Vienna International Centre not only as the symbol of one of most successful treaties in the history of the United Nations, but also as the symbol of a great cooperation between UNIDO and UNEP.

The Protocol, which has been ratified by 197 countries, has enabled reductions of over 98 per cent of all global production and consumption of controlled ozone-depleting substances.

For press contact:

Mikhail Evstafyev

UNIDO Advocacy and Communications Coordinator

Tel: +43-1-26026-5021

Mobile: +43-699-1459-7329

E-Mail: M.Evstafyev@unido.org