The WCO presents the CEN’s new Fauna and Flora section to Customs officers

15 April 2021

From 30 March to 9 April 2021, the World Customs Organization (WCO) Environment Programme organized a series of four workshops in selected regions on the topic of wildlife seizure data collection.

In total, 105 Customs officers from 44 Member administrations and four Regional Intelligence Liaison Offices (RILOs) attended the workshops in the form of webinars. These were mainly nCEN officials, national CEN coordinators, and Customs officials responsible for entering data into CEN from countries in Asia / Pacific, West, Central, East and Southern Africa and South America.

The workshops provided an opportunity to present the fauna and flora commodity section in the updated version of the Customs Enforcement Network (CEN), covering both species protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and species not listed in the Convention.

Collecting large amounts of accurate data is crucial to enable Customs administrations, RILOs and the WCO to develop up-to-date and relevant strategies, as well as to provide informed and accurate guidance to shape effective policies. This data collection also facilitates the production of the Illicit Trade Report, published annually by the WCO.

Unfortunately, despite affecting every corner of the world, illegal wildlife trade (IWT) is rarely considered as a Customs priority area. Collecting data thoroughly will not only offer a better picture of the extent of this type of crime but will also highlight current trends and patterns, both in terms of criminal modi operandi and market demand. The results of this data analysis can, in turn, lead to adjustments in policy and enforcement efforts aimed at offering greater protection to the most vulnerable species.  

Accordingly, the WCO has updated its CEN platform to reflect the latest CITES list of species and make the seizure reporting template more precise and user-friendly, thus simplifying and encouraging seizure reporting by Customs officers. This will benefit Customs administrations in their day-to-day seizure data input into the CEN, as well as during more intensive reporting periods such as IWT-targeted enforcement operations, notably the Operation THUNDER series. This updated CEN platform will provide WCO Member administrations with access to quality data at all times.

The webinars were organized under the auspices of the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) and generously funded by the European Commission’s Directorate General for International Development and Cooperation (DG DEVCO). ICCWC is the result of a collaborative effort between the CITES Secretariat, INTERPOL, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Bank, and the WCO. The Consortium aims to give coordinated support to the national wildlife law enforcement agencies and to the networks that, on a daily basis, act in defence of natural resources by tackling wildlife crime holistically and throughout the supply chain, from detection to arrest, investigation and prosecution.