National Training of Customs Officers & Environment Inspectors to control HCFCs consumption in the Republic of Serbia

Serbia, 17 October 2013 - The Ministry of Energy, Development and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Serbia and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) organised a National Training of Customs Officers and Environment Inspectors to control the hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) consumption in the Republic of Serbia from 14-16 October 2013. This meeting was organised in the framework of the project “HCFC phase-out management plan (Stage I) for Serbia” (HPMP Serbia) which had been approved at the 62nd Meeting of the Executive Committee of the Multilateral Fund. 

The goal of the project is to implement activities that will help the country to meet the compliance targets in 2013 (freeze), 2015 (10% reduction) and 2020 (35 %) reduction of HCFC consumption. The project is being implemented jointly by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and UNEP. One of the important components of the HPMP Serbia is the national training of Customs officers and environment inspectors implemented by UNEP. Enforcement officers play a key role in prevention and monitoring of trade in ODSs and ODSs containing equipment in the country. 

The main objective of the training programme was to provide Customs officers and environment inspectors with necessary practical skills and knowledge to monitor and control the import & export of HCFCs and other ozone-depleting substances (ODS). The meeting assisted enforcement officers to get more information with regard to the Montreal Protocol and its amendments in the context of compliance and enforcement, national obligations under the Montreal Protocol which includes a number of topics such as implementation of the Montreal Protocol in Serbia,  overview of national ODS consumption pattern, national phase-out obligations,  data reporting etc, national import/export licensing (permitting) system and others.

It should be highlighted that two resource persons (Ms. Kamila Šebková and Ms. Jitka Hubáčková) from the Air Protection Department of the Czech Environmental Inspectorate participated in the work of workshop. Czech experts shared their experiences regarding the general role of the Environment Inspectorate of the Czech Republic to control ODS and F-gases, the cases of illegal actions with regard to ODS and F-gases, and electronic tools for enforcement officers.

Participants were divided into four groups with the aim to discuss the effective operation of ODS import / export licensing system and enforcement of ODS regulations at the national level. The groups covered the following topics:

Topic 1: How to effectively operate the ODS import / export licensing system
Topic 2: How to effectively enforce ODS regulations and the role of the Environment Inspectorate of the Republic of Serbia to control ODSs and F-gases 
Topic 3: What to do with seized goods?
Topic 4: Coordination between the National Ozone Unit (NOU), Customs, environment inspectors and other relevant government authorities to efficiently control ODS.
The groups presented the outcome of their discussions during the plenary on Wednesday, 16 October of 2013. The first group proposed to introduce an electronic application system for trade licenses. Another group proposed to establish an inventory of installations and such information could be obtained from the air protection section and the inspections of importers / exporters as well as service providers, collectors and economic operators. This group highlighted that the list of users could be used as a basis for planning inspections.

The group also presented a draft control check list consisting of quantity of ODS in the system, type of ODS in the system, installation age and conditions, frequency of  system recharges, service books and certification of technicians. The group emphasized the issues which should be taken into consideration when developing inspection plans: quantities, equipment conditions (incidents), submission of complaints from citizens and NGOs, and compliance with legislative provisions.

The third group presented procedures on how to deal with seized goods by the Customs and Environment Inspectorate. The Customs representatives highlighted that the best approach is to return goods to the country of origin. In case of ODS waste, goods should be handled by licensed companies and prepared for destruction (export). 

The last group pointed out the importance of involving all stakeholders in the system to control ODS. The group emphasized the need to have specific sets of training for environment inspectors. There is also a need to develop a manual for enforcement officers training in the field of ozone layer protection with the aim of further professional development of environment inspectors in the field. 

For further information:

Ms. Sonja Ruzin, Ozone Officer and Focal Point for Vienna Convention & Montreal Protocol, Head of Air Protection Unit Ministry of  Energy, Development and Environment Protection, Email:

Mr. Mikheil Tushishvili, Programme Officer, UNEP DTIE OzonAction Programme, Email: