Regional Green Customs Workshop in East-Africa
The Regional Green Customs Workshop in East-Africa: Enhancing the Capacity of Customs on the International Trade in “Environmentally-sensitive” Commodities was held on 11-13 October 2017 in Kigali, Rwanda.
Environmental crime has become a lucrative business mainly because it involves but not limited to hazardous waste dumping, smuggling proscribed hazardous materials, exploiting and trafficking protected natural resources. Illegal international trade in environmentally- sensitive commodities such as ozone depleting substances (ODS),toxic chemical, hazardous wastes, endangered species and living modified organisms has seriously undermined the effectiveness of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) by circumventing rules and procedures agreed in international treaties. MEAs are legally-binding global accords that address global environmental issues.
Most environmental problems encountered in the world today have a transboundary nature and a global impact, and they can only be addressed effectively through the kind of international co-operation and shared responsibility made possible through MEAs. Several MEAs regulate the cross-border movement of items, substances and products, mainly in the form of imports, exports and re-exports. This gives the front-line Customs and border-protection officers responsible for controlling trade across borders a very important role in protecting the national and global environment.
Customs and border protection officers are considered the first link in the “compliance and enforcement chain” against trans-boundary illegal trade. Building the capacity of these officers to prevent or detect illegal trade is vital. Capacity can be achieved through training as a way of raising awareness of customs officers on all the relevant international agreements as well as provision of assistance and tools to the enforcement community. Green Customs is designed to complement and enhance existing customs training efforts under the respective agreements.
The Secretariats of MEAs that include trade provisions, such as the Basel Convention on the Trans-boundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, have already instituted capacity building programs for customs officials, in cooperation with the WCO, at both the national and regional levels.
• Pool of resource persons familiar with the Green Customs curriculum and aware of MEA issues related to customs, available resources and contact at national and international levels;
• Synergies created between international, regional and national stakeholders (especially customs) on the implementation of trade regulations of MEAs;
• Feedback received on strengthening Green Customs curricular as well as the Green Customs Manual and integrated for a final result which could be adapted to national needs;
• Awareness elevated among other customs agencies and the public on the role of customs in protecting environmentally-sensitive goods.