To curb the trade in hazardous chemicals, natural resources and endangered species in the region, experts from a range of international agencies, meeting in Bangkok, have agreed to convene a Regional Forum under the auspices of UNEP ROAP. Through the Forum, leading experts in policy formulation, law enforcement, investigation, and prosecution can provide valuable information.
In the last decade, illegal trade has caused an estimated US$ 22-31 billion in environmental damage. Local and international crime syndicates worldwide dump hazardous waste, smuggle proscribed hazardous materials, and exploit and traffic protected natural resources, earning an estimated US$ 22-31 billion annually.
US$6-10 billion are traded illegally in endangered species, US$1-2 billion are traded in ozone depleting substances, and US$1 billion is traded in illegal logging, according to the 2000 study, “International Crime Threat Assessment”.
World Conservation Union, Regional Intelligence Liaison Office for Asia and the Pacific (RILO A/P), INTERPOL, and UNEP ROAP CAP represented their organizations at a meeting in Bangkok on 25 August 2005.
The International Traffic and Customs Organization, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), and Thailand’s National Implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention have signed an agreement to encourage regional cooperation in combating environmental crime, to exchange intelligence and information, to explore synergies in training programs, as well as to coordinate activities against illegal trade.
The illegal traffic of toxic waste negatively impacts the environment and health of thousands in the developing world. The UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toppfer said criminal groups were smuggling environmentally harmful goods, including chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which are banned from legal trade internationally. It was also discussed how to regionalize the Green Customs Initiative. This initiative provides information and training materials for customs officials in order to combat illein environmentally harmful products.This forum is seen as the first step towards a more rigorous regional approach to monitoring environmental crime.
As part of its intelligence and information exchange program, UNEP ROAP has worked closely with RILO A/P since 2002 regarding illegal ODS trade. In addition to attending the South Asia Ozone/Customs Officers Coordination Workshops on illegal ODS trade, RILO also attended the 16th meeting of RILO A/P’s Contact Points.
The Letter of Intent between RILO A/P and UNEP ROAP was signed in Beijing on 25 April 2005. UNEP ROAP Regional Director invited Mr. Liu Xiaohui, Head of RILO to visit UNEP office in Bangkok with the aim of discussing the implementation of the Letter of Intent and regional implementation of the Green Customs Initiative.
For a period of six months, a RILO officer has been seconded to UNEP ROAP as a Consultant. RILO A/P facilitates information exchange and training programmes on ODS smuggling on UNEP ROAP’s behalf.
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