Regional training builds capacity of the Asia-Pacific Region WCO Members on the enforcement of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs)

20 March 2023

As part of the WCO’s continued commitment to the fight against illegal trade in environmentally sensitive commodities, the WCO Environment Programme, in cooperation with the Regional Office for Capacity Building for the Asia/Pacific Region (ROCB A/P) and with the financial support of the China Customs Cooperation Fund (CCF/China), held a workshop on Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) in the Royal Malaysian Customs Academy (AKMAL), Langkawi, Malaysia, from 12 to 16 March 2023. This workshop brought together participants from the Member Customs administrations of the Asia-Pacific Region, including, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Fiji, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Vanuatu, and Vietnam.

MEAs provide a framework for addressing major environmental challenges. By monitoring and controlling international trade in environmentally sensitive commodities, Customs play a crucial role in enforcing MEAs, facilitating legal trade and detecting illegal trade. The aim of the workshop was to enhance the knowledge and skills required for practical application of the MEAs provisions and increase the capacity of Customs officers to enforce them and address environmental challenges.

The workshop, attended by 25 Customs officials, comprised in-depth and practical sessions on ways to tackle illegal trade in environmentally sensitive commodities and facilitate legal trade therein as provided by the international instruments.

It offered practical exercises as well as interactive sessions with presentations by representatives of the WCO, UNEP Asia/Pacific Office and an accredited expert in the area of illegal wildlife trade from the Malaysia Customs. The topics covered included the global trade trends and threats related to trade in environmentally sensitive commodities, the use of data, the risk management techniques and practices related to document and physical examination of such shipments.

The WCO Members participating in the workshop presented some of their best practices for regulating the trade in environmentally sensitive commodities. It nevertheless became clear from the discussions that the illegal trade in commodities such as waste, wildlife, substances controlled under the Montreal Protocol, and hazardous chemicals remains a high risk for the Asia-Pacific region and controls need to be prioritized and streamlined in coordination with the competent authorities.

The WCO extends its appreciation to Malaysia Customs, the CCF China, and ROCB A/P for the support provided to the WCO, granting a successful conclusion of the regional workshop.