Capacity Development Key to Stopping Illegal Trade in Hazardous and Electronic Waste
Building capacity among environmental and customs officials for detecting illegal transboundary shipments of hazardous and electronic wastes was the focus of the Second International Hazardous Waste Inspection Project. 11 countries participated in the Project, which was convened by the International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (INECE) Seaport Environmental Security Network (SESN).
A synthesis report, which was released today, discusses the results and recommendations from the Project, which promoted international good practice for environmental inspections at seaports. The Project engaged officials with responsibilities at seaports from Australia, Belgium, Canada, England, Hong Kong, Northern Ireland, Mexico, The Netherlands, Scotland, Singapore, and the United States of America.
The Project resulted in increased cooperation between environmental and customs officials, an improved understanding of the challenges faced in combating illegal trade in hazardous and electronic wastes, and new information on the international flows of wastes and common modus operandi. Common techniques used for smuggling illegal hazardous and electronic waste include: description of the waste as a similar legal material, deliberate concealment within secondhand vehicles or behind false walls of a container, description of the waste as useable when in fact it is not, and listing the address of intermediary rather than final destination.
More than 1,000 containers were inspected during the Project, with specific consideration to potential illegal waste shipments. Illegalities and violations were reported in 11% of containers. Countries reported using national level (interagency) cooperation in 95% of inspections that took place during the Project and intelligence-led enforcement and/or risk-based profiling was commonly utilized.
“New possibilities emerge when international, regional, and interagency cooperation is a priority,” said Durwood Zaelke, Director of the INECE Secretariat. “The personal connections built through this Project, coupled with effective training efforts, can shift the equation towards better detection and stronger controls of illegal waste shipments.”
As part of the preparatory work for the Project, 86 officials underwent capacity building on intelligence-led enforcement, waste takeback, and interagency cooperation during workshops in Cambodia and Thailand, which were jointly hosted by the Asian Network for Prevention of Illegal Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and the UNEP Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, respectively.
The recommendations emerging from the project underscore the need for continued capacity development on the basic principles of inspection methodologies, the need for incorporating capacity building into existing institutional structures to ensure sustainability, and the need to develop good practices for implementing and monitoring national and international cooperation.