Time to wrap up: the COVID-19 Project Global Webinar acknowledges three years of accomplishments and lessons learned

24 May 2023

On 22 May 2023 the COVID-19 Project, launched in July 2020 thanks to the financial support of the Government of Japan, marked the end of its activities by hosting a “Global Webinar”.  The Webinar provided an opportunity for invitees to learn more about the results achieved during the Project and to exchange with beneficiaries their expertise relevant to the area of disaster relief and the best practices implemented for improving their respective Administrations’ preparedness to face future disruptive events.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, WCO Secretary General, expressed his most sincere thanks to the Government of Japan for its generous support and congratulated the Project’s beneficiaries for their active participation and the excellent results achieved, a legacy that will serve as an example for other WCO Members to efficiently and effectively respond to and recover from emergency situations. Mr. Masahiro Mikami, Ambassador of Japan to the Kingdom of Belgium and NATO, underlined Japan’s ongoing commitment to the disaster relief area and applauded the WCO for the excellent coordination of the Project. Mrs. Velma Ricketts Walker, Commissioner of the Jamaica Customs Agency and Mr. Askolani, Director General of Indonesia Customs and Excise, highlighted the pivotal role played by Customs administrations during humanitarian operations and commended the comprehensive support received from the Project at the national level for enhancing their emergency mechanisms and operational readiness.

More than 120 delegates from several WCO regions attended the workshop to get an overview of the Project’s achievement and find out more about the tools designed by the Project to enhance the preparedness of Customs administrations, such as the WCO Guidelines on disaster management and supply chain continuity and the WCO Guide to stress tests, to name but a few.

Throughout the different sessions, Directors General and senior managers from Member administrations that actively took part in the Project, including Indonesia, Jamaica, Madagascar, Tonga, Cameroon and Nigeria, presented their experience in benefitting from capacity-building and technical assistance. Practical activities aimed to foster their ability to tackle disruptive events included involving Customs staff in different types of training, such as the drafting of Standard Operating Procedures for the facilitation of relief consignments and the participation in simulation exercises, and equipping them with a mobile application for the digitalization of Customs declarations submitted by inbound air passengers.

Thanks to the COVID-19 Project, the WCO was able to foster Customs training in operational readiness, the exchange of experiences and Customs-to-Customs cooperation in emergency management. It will continue providing the necessary guidance and technical assistance to Members in this respect, renewing synergies at the international level and mutual assistance during times of disaster.