United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on the international community to continue efforts to preserve the world’s ozone layer and protect the environment.

In his message for the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer on September 16, the UN leader pointed to the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer as an example of how member states are capable of working for the common good.

"Extraordinary challenges require extraordinary responses. A generation ago, the world’s nations agreed to act definitively to protect the ozone layer, initiating an inter-governmental process that blazed new trails", he said.

Signed on September 16, 1987, the Montreal Protocol aims to protect the ozone layer by taking measures to control total global production and consumption of substances that deplete it, with the ultimate objective of their elimination.

States were invited to devote the Day to promote activities in accordance with the objectives of the protocol and its amendments.

The ozone layer, a fragile shield of gas, protects the Earth from the harmful portion of the rays of the sun, thus helping preserve life on the planet. The protocol has catalyzed innovation in the chemical and equipment manufacturing industry, resulting in more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly refrigeration systems.

Action under the protocol has also had significant climate benefits. Many harmful substances have been phased out, such as chlorofluorocarbons once used in products like hairsprays which are significant greenhouse gases.

"Sustainable development – enabled by the integration of economic growth, social justice and environmental stewardship – must become our global guiding principle and operational standard, " he said.

The UN chief also called the protocol a "remarkable success story" which provides a "beacon of hope" and serves to chart a new vision and responsive framework beyond 2015, the deadline for the eight anti-poverty goals known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

"On this International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, I commend all who have made the Montreal Protocol such an outstanding example of international cooperation. I urge governments, industry, civil society and all other partners to apply the same spirit to the other great environment and development challenges of our times," he concluded.-VNA