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WCO and international Customs community mark World Ozone Day 2021

16 septiembre 2021

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 – under the theme “Montreal Protocol – keeping us, our food and vaccines cool”. World Ozone Day commemorates the anniversary of the signing, in 1987, of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, and reaffirms the importance of the international instruments that support this effort.

On this day, the WCO reaffirms its support to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and OzonAction for the implementation of the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, the Montreal Protocol and the Kigali Amendment. The effective implementation of these Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) is instrumental in guaranteeing that products being traded are safe both for human health and for the environment.

The ozone layer protects the Earth from the sun’s more harmful ultraviolet rays. However, a number of commonly-used chemicals have been found to be extremely damaging to this protective gas layer. A united global effort to phase out ozone-depleting substances is necessary to heal the hole in the ozone layer, which is fundamental to both human health and the preservation of nature, as well as for addressing climate change. 

“Customs plays a key role in the implementation of these international instruments for ozone layer protection and, therefore, in ensuring the protection of both people and ecosystems. At borders, Customs monitors the transboundary movements of environmentally sensitive goods, and can check their compliance with the provisions of the MEAs”, recalled WCO Secretary General Dr. Kunio Mikuriya. “In so doing, Customs makes an effective contribution to the achievement of the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including the SDG 3 which aims at ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all, at all ages”, he added. 

Customs officers, being at the frontline of human and environmental protection, have a duty to prevent and detect illegal trade in ozone depleting substances (ODS). To support them in this mission, the WCO, in cooperation with OzonAction and the partners of the Green Customs Initiative, provides training and guidance to Customs world-wide, enhancing Customs officers’ skills and facilitating their access to information, so that they can successfully mitigate the illegal trade in ODS. The WCO also coordinates global enforcement operations such as the “Demeter” operations targeting illicit shipments of ODS. During the latest edition in 2020 - Operation Demeter VI - Customs officers seized approximately 42 metric tons of illegally traded ODS.

The success of Customs’ enforcement efforts in terms of the durable implementation of MEAs lies in multilateral cooperation, managing risks and applying technology to data exchange and analytics, alongside continued capacity building. By developing a cooperation network and enhancing the gathering and exchange of intelligence, Customs services continue to contribute actively to the protection of the planet and its people.