January 25, 2012

Asian Port Officials Conclude Workshop with Commitments to Collaborate More Effectively

Filed under: Asia, INECE Secretariat, seaports — inece @ 5:42 pm

The International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (INECE) Seaport Environmental Security Network (SESN) hosted its Third Workshop on Combating the Illegal Trade in Hazardous Wastes Through Seaports with co-sponsorship from the United Nations Environment Programme Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. The workshop was held in Bangkok, Thailand on 19-20 January 2012.

Photo credit Nancy Isarin

Participants at the INECE Workshop (credit N. Isarin)

The INECE SESN Workshop was attended by 38 participants from customs and environmental authorities from 10 countries in the Asia region, as well as from several international organizations. Representatives from countries in North America, Europe and Africa also attended.  The complete list of participating country representatives includes: Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam. Additionally, officials from the Basel Convention Regional Center, AECEN, UNEP Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, IMPEL and the World Customs Organization attended the workshop.

The workshop consisted of plenary presentations and small group break-out sessions for training. The workshop was conducted in an interactive setting with opportunities for questions, discussion and networking. Participants also went on a site visit to Laem Chabang Port where officials from the Port Authority who provided an overview of port characteristics and activities, and Customs, who explained their process for targeting and inspecting shipments for hazardous waste. Customs officials also presented several case study examples of seized shipments of illegal hazardous waste. At the port, participants had the opportunity to observe the port’s x-ray technology and to interact with customs officials to learn more about their targeting criteria and screening techniques. Following the visit to the port, participants enjoyed lunch together and wrap-up discussion.

The workshop produced several important outcomes, including a call for greater communication and more intense collaboration among the various national agencies responsible for environmental enforcement at seaports. It was noted that extending this communication and collaboration within the Asian region, as well as internationally, would be beneficial. Capacity building activities, especially in the areas of waste takeback, inspection methods, safety  and risk/threat assessments, were identified as needs for the Asian region. Issues of particular interest included the export/import of electronic waste, the various definitions of hazardous waste and the need for effective regulations. Regular meetings within an active network were identified as necessary to improve communication, collaboration, and capacity building among Asian nations.  It was noted that synergistic alliances between the BCRCs, UNEP ROAP, IMPEL, INECE SESN, AECEN, WCO and other organizations working in the region should be an important component of network development. INECE SESN and WCO will cooperate in the sharing of tools, such as the new INECE SESN Waste Takeback Guidance Manual.

The workshop was an important training opportunity for officials from countries that are participating in the Second INECE SESN International Hazardous Waste Inspection Project at Seaports. As with the first project, each participating country prepares and carries out focused hazardous waste inspections in its own seaports and shares the results with INECE. The Project will provide a means for competent authorities to better evaluate their own capacity for detecting and deterring illegal transboundary movements of hazardous wastes through seaports with the support or tools developed by INECE and international experts. The primary purpose is to build enhanced capacity at ports for more effective inspections of waste shipments through improved multidisciplinary cooperation of officials from environment and customs ministries, police and port officials.

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