WCO Regional Workshop on Combating Environmental Crime and Debriefing of WCO Operation “Demeter IV”
20th - 23rd November, Shanghai, China
General Administration of China Customs & World Customs Organization

Video opening statement by Mr. Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm conventions

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great honor for me to take part in the opening ceremony of the WCO Regional Workshop on Combating Environmental Crime
and Debriefing of the WCO Operation “Demeter IV” which is being held on 20th – 23rd November 2018, in Shanghai, China. I regret not being in a position to be with you in person today due to prior commitments, but I hope that these few words will attest to the importance I personally and the Secretariat of the Basel Convention attach to the work of enforcement officers in China, in Asia and around the world to prevent and combat illegal traffic in hazardous wastes and other wastes.

The Basel convention is the only global legally binding agreement aimed at controlling transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and other wastes. With 186 Parties, it is nearly universal and because transboundary movements with non-Parties are usually prohibited, this means that all exports and imports of such wastes must abide by a common set of rules. These rules were developed with very specific objectives in mind: to protect human health and the environment from the negative effects of hazardous wastes and other wastes, to ensure their environmentally sound management, and, in order to do so, to ensure that only countries with the capacity and willingness to receive wastes from other countries would receive them.

You all know of the strict procedures embedded in the Convention to control the international trade of hazardous wastes and other wastes. And these procedures can only be effective if they are domesticated in each country’s national legal framework, if the responsibilities for implementing and enforcing them are clearly assigned, if entities are given the necessary means and incentives to do their job, and if conduct that contravenes these procedures is adequately punished.

In some countries, it is therefore not without struggle that illegal traffic is prevented, and it is the responsibility of the entire international community to work hand in hand to achieve the goals of the Convention.

Operation Demeter IV, just like its predecessors, is a shining example of cooperation between countries to prevent and combat illegal traffic. The Secretariat of the Basel convention is proud to have once again partnered with the WCO to support this operation. Enforcement operations provide a unique opportunity for countries to reaffirm their commitment to the objectives of the Basel Convention, to raise the visibility both nationally and internationally of the issues at stake and to better monitor and scope the extent of illegal traffic. I look forward to the debriefing of Operation Demeter IV to learn about possible new trends in the types of wastes smuggled across borders and about new routes used by traffickers. Such increased knowledge is key for countries to adjust their response measures to further prevent and combat illegal traffic.

But as important as mapping illegal traffic is knowing, understanding and influencing the drivers of illegal traffic. Is a new route due to new demands for a specific waste stream or constituent in a particular country? Or is it in response to more stringent control or enforcement measures in another country? Is a new type of smuggled wastes due to increased disposal costs in a country? Or is it in response to weakened control measures in another country? Only by analyzing such information can illegal traffic be prevented in a sustainable manner.

It is therefore important in my view for the outcomes of Demeter IV to be brought to the attention of policy makers both at the national and global levels so that lessons from the enforcement community may resonate more broadly and drive more comprehensive responses to illegal traffic. I am therefore pleased to invite the WCO to participate in the fourteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention, which will be held on 29 April - 10 May 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland, to present a debriefing of Operation Demeter IV to the 186 Parties to the Convention. As the Basel convention celebrates its 30-year anniversary, I sincerely hope that the enforcement community, through the WCO, the indispensable partner of competent authorities, can be with us.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
I thank you for your kind attention.