WCO joins the global celebration of World Ozone Day 2022

16 September 2022

On 16 September, the World Customs Organization (WCO) joins the international community in celebrating the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, also known as World Ozone Day. This year, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and OzonAction are calling for global action under the theme “Montreal Protocol@35: global cooperation protecting life on earth”.

This celebration is aimed at raising awareness of the broader impact the Montreal Protocol can have on climate change and the need for concerted action, partnerships and global cooperation to address climate challenges, if we want to protect life on earth for future generations. World Ozone Day commemorates the anniversary of the signing, in 1987, of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, and sheds light on the international instruments that support this effort.

As the treaty turns 35 on World Ozone Day, it is worth remembering how the Montreal Protocol ended one of the biggest threats ever faced by humanity as a whole: the depletion of the ozone layer. When the world found out that ozone-depleting gases used in aerosols and cooling were creating a hole in the sky, key players came together and showed how multilateralism and effective global cooperation could have a concrete impact on phasing out these gases, allowing the ozone layer to regenerate and shield humanity from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation.

Under the Montreal Protocol, groups of chemicals are classified according to the chemical family and are listed in annexes to the Protocol. The Protocol requires the control of nearly 100 chemicals, in several categories. For each group or annex of chemicals, the Treaty sets out a timetable for the phase-out of production and consumption of those substances, with the aim of eventually eliminating them completely.

On this day, the WCO reaffirms its support to its United Nations (UN) partners and to the Customs community in implementing the Montreal Protocol and its most recent Amendment (the Kigali Amendment). The effective implementation of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) such as the Montreal Protocol, addressing specific environmental problems at national, regional and global levels, is essential to guarantee that products being traded are safe both for human health and the environment.

The WCO Secretary General, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, points out that “by consistently conducting border checks on the compliance of environmentally sensitive goods with the provisions of MEAs, Customs officers play a vital role in protecting life on earth,” adding that “there is no doubt that, when performed on a global scale and in coordination, these efforts to phase out ozone-depleting substances will have a multiplying effect. They will also contribute meaningfully to the achievement of UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goal 3 which is aimed at ensuring global health and promoting well-being for all.”

As part of their mission to protect people and the environment, frontline Customs officers must prevent and detect the illegal trade in ozone depleting substances (ODS). To support them in this mission, the WCO, in cooperation with OzonAction and the Green Customs Initiative partners, provides training and guidance to Customs around the world, enhancing Customs officers’ skills and facilitating their access to information so that they can successfully tackle the illegal trade in ODS. The WCO also coordinates global enforcement operations, such as “Demeter”, targeting illicit ODS shipments.

The success of Customs’ enforcement efforts in ensuring the consistent implementation of MEAs relies on multilateral cooperation, risk management and the application of technology for data exchange and analytics purposes, as well as on continuous capacity building. By developing a cooperation network and enhancing intelligence gathering and exchange, Customs services are contributing towards global endeavours to protect the planet and its inhabitants.