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Trade and the Enforcement of Environmental Laws

Status: Completed
Operational Plan: 2010

This project will help remove from commerce materials that are harmful to human health and the environment and will allow for the appropriate management of these harmful materials. It will also help create a level playing field for business across all three countries by helping to ensure successful prosecution of violations of environmental laws. Finally, the project will make possible the electronic exchange of data on export notifications and responses to improve enforcement.

This project has three objectives:

  • Expedite the movement of legal materials across borders.
  • Improve enforcement capacity so that persons or entities are stopped from and penalized for illegally shipping or attempting to ship hazardous waste and materials, ozone-depleting substances, protected species and wildlife, or other illegal materials that could threaten human health or the environment in North America.
  • Promote better information on North American movements of hazardous wastes and materials.

Outstanding tasks and activities from 2009 should be completed in 2010, bringing this project to an appropriate conclusion.



Since 1996, the EWG has identified the need for improved capacity to track transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and materials and ozone-depleting substances (ODS). Moreover, the EWG has identified the importance of enforcing laws that regulate these materials and finding cooperative approaches concerning the enforcement of domestic laws; domestic laws include those that implement the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), through continuous work with the North American Wildlife Enforcement Working Group (NAWEG).


Because non-compliant imports could potentially enter North America via Mexican ports, customs and environmental officials from the three countries are committed to sharing intelligence data and information in order to protect the region from such commodities and materials. By developing these initiatives the Parties contribute to regional strengthening of border security and global environmental strategies like the green Customs carried out by UNEP.

Key Activities

  • Developing a report that summarizes the 2009 international workshop on controlling smuggling and illegal traffic in ODS in North America.
  • Developing a CEC online hazardous wastes and materials training course.
  • Enhancing cooperation and the exchange of intelligence and information on non-compliant imports entering North America.
  • Electronically exchanging information on the import/export of hazardous wastes and materials.
  • Analyzing the utility of the search and mapping tool for shipments of hazardous wastes and materials and determining the need for any further development.


  • Environmentally safer and greener borders.
  • Substantive contribution of the Parties to effective enforcement, compliance and application of law by the judiciary throughout North America.
  • Effective involvement of senior officials in enhancing cooperation in environmental law enforcement and compliance.