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A blog written by Rajendra Shende, Head of the OzonAction Branch, in his personal capacity. This blog does not reflect the policy or position of UNEP or the DTIE OzonAction Branch.

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Albert EinsteinThe Story Behind Success Stories
By Rajendra Shende
19 October 2010

Christopher Langan had an IQ of over 195, whereas Albert Einstein's was 150. Mr. Langan ended up working on a horse farm in rural Missouri, USA, whereas Einstein - well we all know of his achievements after leaving the patent office in Bern. The scoop behind the" success stories" around the world is as follows: however smart, ambitious and hard-working an individual may be, he or she cannot succeed without an enabling environment and without supportive network of humans.

I strongly believe that what is true for an individual is also true for Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs). The smartest Convention with ambitious targets and creative mechanisms coupled with the most ingenious implementing strategies may end up without any meaningful results. The Montreal Protocol, the most successful MEA by any standard, had only modest targets to start with, but like the story of Bill Gates or Steve Jobs - it went from a garage of ideas to a barrage of success. Volumes have been written about the key factors behind the achievements of the Montreal Protocol. Beyond any doubt, these include technology transfer, the financial mechanism, and policy enforcement and so on. However, the story behind the Protocol's 'success story' will not be complete, unless we add yet another critical factor of "giving a human face" to the Protocol.

Over the last two decades I have been closely engaged in the exercise of creating an enabling environment for capacity building-by giving a human face to these efforts. The Montreal Protocol now claims universal participation; each and every country is now Party to the Protocol. Long before this achievement, the OzonAction Regional Networks of National Ozone Units achieved universal participation of the developing countries, i.e. each and every of the 147 developing countries - even though some of them had not ratified the Montreal Protocol - engaged in an hand-holding exercise at global level and heralded the success of the Protocol.

The culture of "my brother" which is embedded in the Arabic world, a concept of "global family" which is at the core of Oriental philosophy and a notion of "equality" rooted in the Occidental world were practiced by all over the last two decades in implementing the Protocol.

The NOUs of the Republic of Korea and Democratic Republic of Korea; India and Pakistan; Japan and China; Azerbaijan and Armenia- all sat next to each other in our regional network meetings and got involved with what I call "networking without borders". Their geographical borders effectively dissolved when collectively all countries resolved to achieve compliance. They held a shared value of compliance to protect the ozone layer and reduce the impact of climate change.

Map of Regional NetworksBrotherly networking transformed the objectives of the Protocol into an Einsteinian success. Many other Conventions claim much higher IQs and the smartest mechanisms. However, the human face of the Montreal Protocol - though many times invisible and often seeming to be obsolete in an intricately modern and crisis-ridden globalised world - has served as a lighthouse for this Protocol. This "story behind the success stories" has been fundamental to what has been achieved under the Montreal Protocol.


Disclaimer: The views expressed on this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views, strategies or opinions of my employer.
Rajendra Shende -blogger.

© UNEP DTIE 2007 | updated 20-oct-10