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Regional Cooperation Sealed to Address Illegal ODS Trade in Asia and Pacific


BEIJING, CHINA, June 14, 2005 --/WORLD-WIRE/-- In January 2005, the government of Fiji won its first indictment against illegal ODS possession proving that vigilance in detection eventually results in conviction. Other countries in the Asia and the Pacific region have likewise reported uncovering prohibited shipments by unscrupulous traders hoping to cash in on the ban on chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), thereby undermining the success of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

To sustain these national efforts, Regional Intelligence Liaison Office for Asia and Pacific (located in Beijing) of World Customs Organization and UNEP’s Regional Office for Asia and Pacific today signed a Letter of Intent to collaborate on addressing environmental crime issues in a coordinated manner at the regional level.

Regional cooperation and prosecution will be some of the highlights at a three-day gathering of customs officers and national ozone officers from 24 countries of the Asia and the Pacific region opening in Beijing today. After three years of operation, this groundbreaking network managed by UNEP and funded by Sweden under the Multilateral Fund that looks at increased regional cooperation to fight illegal trade is now ready to take stock of what worked for its member countries. The participants will also agree on a long-term strategy for a future action plan to ensure that such criminal acts will be eliminated. The meeting is also attended by Environment Investigation Agency, US Department of Justice and enforcement officials from Fiji and Netherlands.

Monique Barbut, Director of the Division of Industry of Technology and Economics of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said: “The task is not simple due to the challenge of dealing with increasing illegal trade of ODS. Underlying its success is the training of customs officers at the national level. Due to the trans-boundary character of the environmental issues at stake, broader cooperation and information exchange between countries, regional and international organisations, NGOs, and industry are also required”.

Mr. Zhu Guangyao, Vice Minister of SEPA while inaugurating the workshop highlighted China’s efforts to address illegal trade issues and complemented UNEP for addressing environmental crime issues in the region in a very effective manner.

Customs officers will also be treated to an array of training materials which includes a video, a new website for information exchange and briefing materials, all of which are designed to build their capacity for this very challenging work.

Illegal trade in ODS, principally chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), is an emerging significant problem especially in Asia. The region still has equipment that is reliant on CFCs, but countries have committed to reduce consumption and production of CFCs in line with the phase-out schedule under the Montreal Protocol. This has led to growing smuggling of these chemicals to satisfy demand from users, which has hampered the take-up of alternatives to CFCs.

The meeting will recommend specific actions particularly on stronger regional and sub-regional cooperation not only between countries but also between international organizations involved in illegal trade. One important area to be agreed upon will be responsibilities and measures to be taken in case of illegal border trade. The meeting will also look at the full implementation of a Green Customs programme intended to harness customs officers for looking at trade issues of related multilateral environmental agreements.

Visit the UNEP DTIE OzonAction website on

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT: Ms. Lud Coppens, Policy and Enforcement Officer, UNEP CAP, ROAP , Tel: 662 288 1679, Email:

Mr. Atul Bagai, Regional Network Coordinator, South Asia, UNEP CAP, ROAP, Tel: 662 288 1662: Email:

Mr. Thanavat Junchaya, Regional Network Coordinator, South East Asia, UNEP CAP, ROAP, Tel: 662 288 2128: Email:


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