For a second time, enforcement officers and organizations tackling fast-growing illegal trade in chemicals and harmful waste in Asia Pacific were at the centerstage of an award ceremony recognizing their efforts to curb pollution crimes.
Four enforcement officers and four organizations hailing from China, Korea, Mongolia, Myanmar, Philippines and Sri Lanka were recipients of the Asia Environmental Enforcement Award for seizures amounting to nearly 600,000 tons of hazardous waste and chemicals that together amounted to some US$300 million.
Environmental crimes, which include illegal trade in wildlife, illicit trade in forests and forestry products, illegal dumping of waste including chemicals, smuggling of ozone depleting substances and illegal mining, comes at a hefty cost – estimated at some US$91-258 billion. It is now the fourth largest illegal crime after drug smuggling, counterfeiting and human trafficking. Illegal trade in and dumping of hazardous waste in 2015 was tabbed at US$12-19 billion. In 2013, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime reported that illegal trade in e-waste to Southeast Asia and the Pacific was estimated at US$3.75 billion annually.
“Millions of tonnes of hazardous waste and harmful chemicals are transported to and within Asia, with sometimes severe consequences for people and the environment. These awards recognize the front-line work of the enforcement officers and institutions who play such a crucial role in enforcing environmental laws and safeguards. They exemplify the kind of courage, dedication and remarkable spirit of public service we need to protect people and planet, not only in Asia but the world over," said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment.
"Their work is not often seen in the public eye, but it is critical for it to be seen and supported.”
Award winners include:
Mrs. Enkhtuya Surenjav, Lecturer Trainer of General Authority for Customs and Taxation of Mongolia.
For training of over 1,200 customs officers in Mongolia that led to seizures of illegal chemicals and waste
Mr. Rajapaksa Pathirage Don Tharaka Seneviratne, Retired Additional Director General of Sri Lanka customs
For building national capacity among customs officers in Sri Lanka and training customs officers in Asia Pacific, both of which led to a number of seizures of illegal ozone depleting substances and chemical in Sri Lanka and the region.
Mr. LIU Xiaohui, Director General of the Anti-Smuggling Bureau of the General Administration of China Customs.
For promoting information and intelligence sharing and initiating successful national, regional and global enforcement operations that led to seizures of thousands of tons of illegal hazardous wastes and ozone depleting substances.
Mr. Chang Ryung Han, Director of the Investigation Division of the Korea Customs Service.
For tackling cross-border environmental crimes, especially in e-waste and toxic chemicals and for designing a special enforcement plan for the Korea Customs Services that led to investigation of 50 illegal cross-border trade and seizures of 238,000 tons of illegal waste and chemicals.
National Management Office of Ozone Depleting Substances of the People’s Republic of China
For leading in controlling trade in illegal ozone depleting chemicals in China which stopped illegal trade of 280 metric tonnes of ozone depleting substances and for assisting China Customs in 16 smuggling cases.
The Mobile Team of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar
For undertaking extensive investigations into illegal movement of waste that led to multiple seizures of illegally imported electronic waste like used computers and computer accessories into Myanmar.
The Anti-Smuggling Bureau, General Administration of China Customs
For initiating and supporting national and global environmental enforcement operations that lead to seizures of 374,000 tonnes of illegal waste in 2016.
Environmental Protection Unit, Enforcement and Security Service, Bureau of Customs, Philippines
For persisting in combatting environment crime that lead to seizures of 700 kilograms of illegal ozone depleting substances, 20 metric tonnes of illegal chemicals and 90 containers of hazardous waste oil and electronic waste.
The Asia Environmental Enforcement Award is an initiative of UN Environment, funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency to encourage countries, organizations and individuals in the region to combat environmental crime and to reward excellence in enforcement.
The award ceremony was held on the margins of the Second Forum of Ministers and Environment Authorities of Asia Pacific.