By Tracey Khan – Drakes
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Customs and Border Control officers from the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) are undergoing a three day workshop on the Enforcement of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs).
The workshop, which is being conducted at the GRA’s headquarters in Georgetown, is an initiative by CARICOM, the Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment (MNRE) along with a number of regional and local agencies.
The MEAs regulate the cross-border movement of items, substances and products, mainly in the form of imports, exports and re-exports. These MEAs are legally binding global accords that seek to address several global environmental issues which give the front line Customs and Border protection officers a very important role of controlling trade across borders and protecting the national and global environment.
Guyana is party to a number of these key MEAs that are significant for sustainable development nationally and globally. Some are of particular importance to capacity building initiative/workshop, and under the purview of the MNRE, include: the convention for the international trade in endangered species of wild flora and fauna.
“Most environmental problems encountered in the world today are trans-boundary in nature and therefore have a global impact, and they can only be addressed effectively through the kind of international co-operation and shared responsibility made possible through MEAs,” said Jameel Baksh, Deputy Commissioner –GRA.
Meanwhile, CARICOM’s General Counsel, Safiya Ali explained that CARICOM will continue to work with the GRA to raise, “customs officers’ awareness about international agreements to control the trade in environmentally sensitive commodities…customs agencies have been essential to the recent achievements in the fight against illegal trade in environmentally sensitive goods.”
According to Ali, Guyana should be commended for being one of the few countries in the region to have ratified all of the MEAs.
“International environmental crime is no longer an emerging issue, nor is it a minor enterprise. The illegal trafficking of wildlife, for example is worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Illegal trade in ozone depleting substances is a multi-million dollar business and is projected to grow as trade restrictions become more stringent. Illegal trade in environmentally sensitive goods, such as wildlife and hazardous chemicals, often involves organized criminal network operating across borders,” Ali stressed.
Ambassador of the European Union (EU) in Guyana, Robert Kopecky also spoke of the importance of this training exercise, point out that the first one was held in St. Lucia.
He said the European Union will continue its support of these workshops which will help States to better control its borders.