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On World Environment Day, the WCO joins the plea for urgent action to protect our planet

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BRUSSELS : Each year, 5 June is an important day for the World Customs Organization (WCO), as it joins the international community in celebrating World Environment Day and pledges its support for actions taken to restore and protect our planet.

In 2022, World Environment Day is not just a celebration but also an urgent call to rethink consumption modes, the use of energies and the exploitation of resources. On this day, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) rallies all stakeholders to lead the way on issues of climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, pollution and waste, with one fact in mind: we only have one Earth and therefore we need to take care of it.

Customs plays a major role in the protection of the environment, by being at the forefront of enabling and enforcing Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs). These agreements cover a wide range of environmentally sensitive goods, including wildlife, timber, waste and harmful chemicals. Customs is uniquely positioned – specifically at entry and exit points – to regulate or monitor legitimate trade and to intercept illegally traded goods.

“Dedicated to guiding Customs’ efforts worldwide towards global environmental sustainability, the WCO actively supports all efforts by its Members to contribute to the preservation of the environment, including transitioning to environmentally-sustainable Customs procedures and policies”, said Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, WCO Secretary General. “At borders, Customs officers relentlessly thwart attempts to smuggle environmentally-sensitive goods, while facilitating legal trade, and the WCO remains at their side to keep their knowledge up-to-date”, he added.

To achieve this, the WCO has always had a strong programme on enforcement and, with active support from Members, it is bringing an increasing environmental focus to its trade tools. For legal trade, the Harmonized System (HS) classifications have always been an important tool for identifying environmentally harmful goods that fall under MEA restrictions or monitoring. Furthermore, it supports positive measures as well, with an increasing focus in recent years on identifying environmentally preferable goods to better support governments and Customs seeking to implement supportive environmental trade policies at the border.

The WCO Environment Programme delivers training, provides up-to-date material and bolsters Customs’ operational enforcement efforts, to enhance the capacity of its Members and its network of Regional Intelligence Liaison Offices (RILOs). It also regularly raises Customs administrations’ awareness of environmental issues, keeping them informed about the latest developments.

Ensuring the sustainability of our natural resources and environment is crucial to maintaining the sustainability of our societies. Global actions are needed now. The WCO and the international Customs community join all their partners in pledging to perform to their full potential in restoring and preserving our environment for the benefit of all life on Earth.

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