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Office of Strategic Environmental Management

Environmental Innovation Portfolio

Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.

Leveraging Partnerships for Environmental Protection

At times, traditional regulatory and programmatic remedies are insufficient to resolve an environmental problem. Effective solutions might require the participation of multiple actors, some of whom are not easily reached through conventional approaches. Innovative, collaborative problem-solving and partnership models are enabling environmental agencies to tackle such complex environmental problems. Successful partnerships distribute the challenge of finding solutions, enlisting partners' energies and resources to achieve mutually desired outcomes. Common partnership models include community-based environmental partnerships (CBEPs), government-industry partnerships, and inter-governmental partnerships.

photo of open portfolioCommunity-Based Environmental Partnerships

Environmental partnerships are enabling communities to face complex environmental challenges that necessitate behavior change on a scale that cannot easily be secured when a public environmental agency acts alone. CBEP models typically focus on problems that: 1) require behavior change among multiple actors, often including individuals and households; and 2) are targeted in a specific geographic area. Targeted problems include reducing the effects of toxic substances on human health and ecosystems, improving indoor air quality, and improving the quality of life in urban areas. These partnerships often attempt to leverage existing community-based organizations to engage in collaborative problem-solving and to spur broad-based behavior change. Outreach is a key element of this model, although incentives can supplement education efforts. Agency managers can offer support to groups pursuing CBEPs as a means to encourage greater local participation and ownership of environmental improvement efforts.

Neighborhood Contamination Reduction—South Carolina
Enlists numerous community organizations and local businesses to support education and outreach to reduce community exposure to lead and other hazardous substances as part of the Charleston-North Charleston Community-Based Environmental Partnership (CBEP). (http://www.epa.gov/Region4)
Omaha Asthma Alliance—Nebraska
Created a coalition to lessen the impact of asthma in the Omaha Metropolitan area through the development of a strategic plan that addresses Alliance development, professional education/training, public and patient education, data gathering and tracking, and advocacy. (http://breathehealthy.org/index.php/communities/omaha exit EPA)
Northeast Ohio Initiatives—Ohio
Responds to regional economic, sprawl, ecosystem and infrastructure challenges through a fifteen county, community-based approach. (http://www.epa.gov/glnpo/lakeerie/leneohio.htm)
Urban Environmental Program—Boston, MA
Adopts a community-based approach including the City of Boston, Massachusetts DEP, and community organizations to improve the quality of life in urban settings by targeting issues such as asthma and indoor air quality, lead poisoning, vacant lots and green spaces, and pollution prevention. (http://www.epa.gov/boston/eco/uep/boston/)
Historic Urban Revitalization—Florida
Uses a community-based environmental protection partnership approach to minimize sprawl, redevelop urban residential and retail areas, and improve the quality of living in historic downtown. (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/ exit EPA)

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Government-Industry Partnerships

Partnerships among government agencies and specific companies or industry coalitions can offer a low-cost and more inclusive approach to improving compliance rates or achieving desired performance outcomes. While significant environmental performance improvement has been achieved through regulatory approaches, opportunities exist in many sectors to improve compliance rates and to enhance environmental performance beyond regulatory minimums. Government industry partnership models can include several elements, such as: 1) research or joint technology development or testing; 2) education and outreach; 3) technical assistance; 4) regulatory or financial incentives; and 5) public challenges and commitments. Trade associations and other business organizations can play an important role by lowering the transaction costs for interactions between environmental agencies and individual businesses. Agency managers can use government-industry partnership models, or piggyback on existing partnerships, to work collaboratively with industry sectors to address specific environmental challenges.

Sustainable Environment for Quality of Life—North Carolina and South Carolina
Establishes an integrated environmental initiative for the 15-county metropolitan Charlotte region in North and South Carolina involving elected officials, local government staff, business and industry groups, economic development groups, and environmental stakeholder groups to work toward viable solutions to regional growth. (http://www.seql.org exit EPA)
Michigan Automotive P2 Partnership—Michigan
Partners Michigan DEQ with the Big Three auto makers to reduce pollution and minimize the use, generation, and release of persistent toxic substances throughout Michigan's auto manufacturing operations. (http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,1607,7-135-3585_4129_4184---,00.html exit EPA)
Design for the Environment—U.S. EPA
Partners with industry, non-governmental organizations and others to apply EPA's technical tools and expertise to reduce chemical risk. Example include safer flame retardants, reductions in lead in electronics and safer chemicals in cleaners. (http://www.epa.gov/dfe/)

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wetlandInter-Governmental Partnerships

Inter-governmental partnerships are enhancing the effectiveness of public agency efforts to address complex environmental challenges. These challenges often involve diverse issue areas, such as public health, natural resource management, land use, transportation, and infrastructure. Jurisdiction over these dimensions typically resides in multiple agencies and organizations, making integrated solutions difficult without coordination. In addition, some environmental problems are better suited to a regional approach that crosses county or state lines. Inter-governmental partnerships can enable public agencies to: 1) coordinate effectively on solutions that require participation of multiple agencies; 2) pool resources to address shared problems; and 3) enhance political or economic clout for achieving a desired outcome. Agency managers can pursue inter-governmental partnerships to align other relevant government agencies in efforts to address strategic environmental priorities.

Western Regional Air Partnership—Western States, Tribes, and Federal Agencies
Supports efforts to improve air quality and visibility in western states, providing policy and technical tools to enable states and tribes to implement the federal regional haze rule. (http://www.wrapair.org/ exit EPA)
Great Lakes Commission—U.S. EPA, Great Lakes States, Canada
Promotes the orderly, integrated, and comprehensive development, use, and conservation of the water and related natural resources of the Great Lakes basin and St. Lawrence River. (http://www.glc.org/ exit EPA)
Partnerships with U.S. Department of Defense—U.S. EPA Region 4
Partner agencies (EPA and DOD) at the regional level for pollution prevention, installation restoration programs, and resource conservation. (http://www.epa.gov/region4/)
Green Suppliers Network—U.S. EPA
Establishes a collaborative effort between EPA, the U.S. Department of Commerce and industry in specific sectors to provide small and medium-sized manufacturers technical assistance in lean and clean manufacturing, improving manufacturers' environmental performance and profitability. (http://www.greensuppliers.gov)
Nebraska Environmental Partnerships—Nebraska
Helps leaders in small and rural communities better understand regulations, determine and analyze risks, and find technically and financially feasible solutions to the problems and risks identified. (http://www.deq.state.ne.us/Newslett.nsf/0/008ef02e654b1a37862568f600735ce9?OpenDocument exit EPA)

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