Japan supports WCO projects on sustainability and border security

19 February 2020

The Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO), Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, met the Japanese Ambassador to Belgium, H.E. Mr. Makita Shimokawa, at the Headquarters of the WCO in Brussels, Belgium on Wednesday, 19 February 2020, during which they exchanged Note Verbales on the Government of Japan’s financial contribution to the WCO’s Project on Plastic Waste Border Management (Waste Management Project) in the Asia/Pacific region and the Project on Developing an Operational Handbook on Security Strategies, Equipment and Personnel Training for Customs in Fragile Borderlands (Security Handbook Project).

“Customs fostering Sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet,” is the WCO’s theme in 2020, under which the broader Customs community is focusing on its contribution towards a sustainable future where social, economic, health and environmental needs are at the heart of its actions.   

Customs is uniquely mandated and positioned at borders to play a prominent role across the international supply chain, ensuring a sustainable, secure, and inclusive future for all. Therefore, with only 10 years left to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and given the direct links between Customs’ strategic mission and several of the SDGs, it is important for Customs to meet all the environmental, economic, health and social challenges while scaling up its ongoing efforts to respond effectively in a more proactive manner.

Against this background, the Waste Management Project receives financial support under the “MARINE initiative” that Japan launched to realize the “Osaka Blue Ocean Vision,” which it shared at the G20 Osaka Summit last year. The Project will be implemented under the auspices of the WCO Environmental Programme and will aim at strengthening the capacity of Customs administrations to mitigate and appropriately respond to environmental threats in the Asia/Pacific region, with a special focus on the implementation of the Basel Convention and on matters of plastic waste and the illegal shipment thereof.  

As a result of the ongoing challenges exacerbated by the security situation and the massive impact of terrorism, the WCO Policy Commission adopted the Punta Cana Resolution on the role of Customs in security during its meeting in December 2015. The Resolution resulted in the adoption of the “G7 Action Plan on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism” at the G7 Summit in Ise-Shima, Japan in May 2016, where the WCO Security Programme was specifically mentioned as a means of enhancing border security.  

With such a high level of commitment, a series of WCO programmes and projects, including the Security Projects for Asia/Pacific and for West and Central Africa, both financially supported by the Government of Japan, have been delivered and are under delivery. These efforts illustrate the fact that specific assistance is necessary for Customs in conflict and post-conflict situations and in borderlands that are affected by the violence perpetrated by armed groups.

To address this challenge, the Security Handbook Project is aimed at developing an operational handbook to assist Customs administrations, whose jurisdiction includes fragile borderlands, to enhance their capabilities, in order to withstand the immense security challenges faced by their Customs officials.

“Plastic waste management is a new global challenge that the world is facing nowadays. The WCO and the international Customs community can play a major role by coordinating their efforts to minimize and eventually eliminate the destructive impact that plastic waste imposes on the environment,” said WCO Secretary General Dr. Mikuriya, adding that “the Government of Japan’s continuing support for WCO security-related initiatives goes a long way in further strengthening the security capabilities of Customs administrations worldwide.”

H.E. Mr. Makita Shimokawa stressed that Japan highly appreciated all activities to address emerging issues faced by WCO Member Customs administrations under the leadership of Secretary General Dr. Mikuriya. Moreover, he emphasized that the funded projects would continue to render much deeper and stronger cooperation, as well as mutual trust, not only with the WCO, but also with its Members.