EPA's International Priorities
Pollution does not respect national boundaries, and environmental challenges such as the climate crisis cannot be successfully addressed by the United States alone. EPA has a responsibility to work with the international community to ensure a healthy future for all people in the U.S., protect the global commons, support a robust and sustainable economy creating good jobs, and advance strong environmental governance by deploying our expertise and innovation. Building on EPA’s long history of international collaboration, EPA will provide leadership with our partners in five broad thematic areas described below (listed examples are illustrative and not exclusive).
Combatting the Climate Crisis
The climate crisis is a serious threat to our health, social, and economic well-being. To successfully address this crisis, we need aggressive action from all nations.
EPA will engage with key countries around the globe to advance policies, exchange information and/or provide technical assistance in the following areas:
- Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the transport sector
- Improving household and commercial energy efficiency
- Reducing potent climate pollutants with near-term benefits
- Improving integrated air quality management, including consideration of clean air and climate co-benefits and GHG modeling, monitoring, and reporting
- Strengthening climate governance and equity at all levels of government
- Boosting strategies for national and local adaptation and resilience
- Supporting resource efficiency actions to reduce GHG emissions from overlooked sources
Advancing the Values of Environmental Justice and Equity
Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. This goal will be achieved when everyone enjoys:
- The same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards, and
- Equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.
These same goals apply to EPA’s international work. EPA will advance environmental justice principles in all its multilateral policy work and bilateral technical assistance. This includes advancing policies, exchanging information and/or providing technical assistance in the following areas:
- Advancing equity or environmental justice issues in multilateral forum like the G7, G20, UNEA and OECD
- Identifying opportunities to amplify the voices and address environmental public health concerns of vulnerable and underserved communities in bilateral cooperation with key countries through their respective domestic laws, regulations, policies, and programs.
- Promoting international Indigenous issues in collaboration with the White House Council of Native American Affairs.
Addressing Transboundary Pollution in North America and Globally
In order to deliver a cleaner, healthier, safer environment for all Americans, we must address transboundary pollution that is generated elsewhere but reaches our border and communities.
Our work begins here in North America, where economic and population growth along our borders have resulted in environmental opportunities and challenges.
- EPA’s U.S.- Canada Bilateral Program helps co-manage important shared resources like the Great Lakes, shared airsheds, and addresses transboundary pollution that originates in Canada but flows into our waters.
- The U.S.-Mexico Border Program works with Mexico on air quality, water quality, waste management and emergency response to protect U.S. and Mexican communities from transboundary pollution and build better water infrastructure.
- In addition, we collaborate on joint efforts regionally with Canada and Mexico through the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation, under the updated North American free trade agreement-USMCA.
Globally, EPA is reaching out to countries that are the primary sources of pollution including long-range transboundary sources of air pollution that can harm the health of U.S. citizens through the Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution. EPA will continue to lead the technical implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury for the U.S.to eliminate mercury emissions worldwide, and to promote innovative approaches to reducing and mitigating black carbon and methane through the Arctic Contaminants Action Program.
Building Environmental Infrastructure, a Green Economy and Green Jobs
EPA has a leading role in new investments in environmental infrastructure, and we are working to position the U.S. as a global leader on sustainable water infrastructure, renewable energy and zero emission vehicles, which is supporting a new generation of jobs and growing an inclusive and green economy.
EPA will engage with the international community on circular economy and resource efficiency, including efforts to address food loss and waste and marine litter. Food loss and waste accounts for 8% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (4.4 gigatons CO2e annually). EPA is committed to achieving the U.S. national goal of reducing food loss and waste by half by 2030 by deploying resource efficiency principles.
Congress has mandated swift action by EPA and other federal agencies on Marine Plastic Pollution through the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act. Because 80% the world’s marine plastic pollution comes from land-based sources of pollution, EPA is focused on preventing plastic pollution from entering oceans and waterways by increasing recyclability, encouraging sustainable alternatives, and improving waste management.
EPA also has a key role in advancing resource efficiency to ensure that we are greening global supply chains and building environmentally protective international standards that support a global green economy and American manufacturing and jobs.
Strengthening Environmental Governance by deploying EPA Expertise and Innovation
EPA is an international leader, with the largest technical and regulatory expertise in the world on environmental and health protection, and we are committed to sharing our expertise and collaborating with partner countries around the world.
- Air pollution accounts for an estimated 1 in 8 deaths globally per year and approximately 91% of the world’s population lives in places where they breathe polluted air. Internationally, EPA supports a variety of air quality management approaches and solutions, including capacity building and tools, technology evaluations, and joint studies.
- Globally, 785 million people lack even a basic drinking water service, most of whom who live in communities that are vulnerable and underserved. EPA has developed a variety of water management approaches and solutions for drinking water and wastewater treatment systems as well as water reuse.
- Chemicals, like mercury and lead, are prevalent in everything from food to consumer goods. As EPA works to implement strong chemical protections in the U.S., we will also work with our global partners to provide similar protections for their goods and services and ensure high standards of safety around the world.
- EPA’s actions are based on a strong commitment to the rule of law and sound science. EPA partners with key countries to develop and support the promotion of good governance, strengthen judicial and legal structures, develop regulatory systems, and support scientific research necessary for effective environmental protection around the world.