* Countries reduce use of toxic substances

According to scientific reports provided by the United Nations, the use of toxic substances harmful to the ozone layer has declined by 80% in recent years.

Multilateral agreements such as the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol have anabled in some 170 industrialized and developing countries to almost totally forego the use of such products and to resort to their use only for essential purposes.

Reports from the international scientific community confirm that significant progress has been made. Moreover, projects totalling more than US$500 million have been approved by the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol, aimed specifically at halting the use of substances such as chlorofluorocarbons and methyl bromide.

In order the celebrate the importance of these achievements and the firm determination of the governments to tackle this problem, the United Nations Environmental Programme designated September 16 as "World Ozone Layer Preservation Day" in a resolution adopted in December 1994 by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Cognizant that education and information are the key to solving this problem, World Ozone Layer Preservation Day was established to increase awareness of the need to halt the steady destruction of this vital layer of the atmosphere.

A wide variety of activities will celebrate the occasion, including: workshops, speeches, drawing contests, school parades and games, preparation and dissemination of press articles, scientific and technical lectures, and radio and television programs.

Latin America, Africa and Asia are celebrating "ozone day" for the second time. The developed nations were given until 1996 to reduce and eliminate the use of such substances; developing countries were given until the year 2005.

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