The WCO continues to support its members on Environmental Issues

28 septiembre 2020

Despite the global COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent disruption of international travel, the World Customs Organization (WCO)’s Environment Programme has continued to provide support on Environmental issues to its members. “Combatting illegal wildlife and forest trade has always been a priority for the WCO and its members, and our support to global Customs community to address this scourge continues amidst the current pandemic", declared Mr. Pranab Kumar Das, Director, Compliance and Facilitation at the WCO.

A total of 36 half-day webinars focusing on Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) and CITES enforcement were delivered to members in Asia, South America and sub-Saharan Africa, between June and September 2020. The topics covered, amongst others, an introduction to the CITES Convention, CITES documents and document fraud, species identification, operational health and safety, information, intelligence and data management, risk management and IWT risk profiling, inter-agency cooperation, and operational best practices regarding IWT. Some of the topics were delivered by experts from partner organizations, such as the CITES Secretariat, and INTERPOL, whilst others were delivered by  experts from the WCO Secretariat, the Central Africa and Western Europe RILOs, WCO Environment Programme accredited experts from member administrations, as well as TRAFFIC.

These events were attended by 20 officers from Asia (i.e. China, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam), 21 officers from South America (i.e. Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, and Peru) and 61 officers from sub-Saharan Africa (i.e. Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Togo, Uganda, and Zambia), and were highly appreciated by the attendees. A participant said ‘Thank you so much, we are all loaded with more knowledge from the training’.

These webinars were organized under the auspices of the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), and funded by the European Union and the United Kingdom. ICCWC is the collaborative effort of five inter-governmental organizations working to bring coordinated support to the national wildlife law enforcement agencies and to the sub-regional and regional networks that, on a daily basis, act in defense of natural resources. The partner agencies to ICCWC are the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Secretariat, INTERPOL, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Bank and the WCO.

An additional ICCWC-funded 5-days COPES (Customs Operational Practices for Enforcement and Seizures) webinar, in support of the Environment Programme, took place on 15 to 19 June 2020, attended by 16 Customs enforcement officers from 5 French-speaking sub-Saharan African administrations (Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Madagascar).

Despite the current circumstances, the WCO Environment Programme continues to provide support to the WCO member administrations by strengthening their capacities to mitigate environmental crime and its devastating consequences.