WCO regional workshop on environmental issues in the Dominican Republic

06 October 2023

From 28 to 30 September 2023, the WCO Environment Programme conducted a workshop at the WCO Regional Training Centre in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The workshop was aimed at building the capacity of Customs administrations in the Americas/Caribbean region with respect to environmental issues, and was made possible thanks to the financial support of the China Customs Co-operation Fund (CCF-China).

The event brought together 13 Customs officers from the region’s Member administrations, namely, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Guyana, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama and Peru. It benefitted from technical expertise provided by the WCO Secretariat, the WCO Regional Intelligence Liaison Office for Central America (RILO CAM) and the Basel Convention Regional Centre for the South America Region, Argentina (BCRC Argentina).  

With the overall objective of addressing environmental crime issues, the event focused on enhancing Customs officers’ knowledge and skills to ensure effective enforcement of the provisions of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) such as the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. As Customs administrations play a crucial role in enforcing MEAs, the questions explored during the workshop ranged from how to detect shipments containing illegal waste and substances controlled under the Montreal Protocol to how to prevent illegal trade, with the primary goal being to raise participants’ awareness about the MEAs.

The sessions comprised in-depth and practical exercises on the best ways to tackle illegal trade in environmentally sensitive commodities in accordance with the relevant international instruments. Global trade trends and threats related to trade in environmentally sensitive commodities, the use of data, and risk management techniques based on document analysis and physical examinations were also among the topics covered. Best practices were presented by the participants and various approaches to enhancing cooperation were discussed.

Multilateral cooperation, sharing best practices and remaining up-to-date with the latest developments in Customs policies, environmental-related frameworks, tools and trends in the illegal trade in environmentally sensitive commodities remain of paramount importance.

The WCO will continue to cooperate closely with its Member Customs administrations and its partners, as the Organization remains firmly convinced that the best way to combat environmental crime effectively is through concerted efforts and partnerships. Such actions should include, but are not limited to, ensuring continuous capacity building of frontline Customs officers, developing or updating tools  to support officers in their daily work, and conducting global Customs operations aimed at fighting illegal trade.

The WCO extends its appreciation to the Customs administration of the Dominican Republic for its support in making this event a success.