EPA collaborates with a wide variety of multilateral organizations and institutions to protect human health and the environment. Many pollutants released abroad directly affect the populations and ecosystems within our borders. In addition, foreign partners also often seek solutions to environmental problems from EPA and U.S. companies.
These multilateral institutions provide a forum for encouraging collective actions for common solutions and help leverage resources as we seek to manage ongoing and emerging environmental threats in new ways.
Learn More about Our Work with International Organizations:
The United Nations
The United Nations (U.N.), with its many component bodies, is foremost among the multilateral, intergovernmental organizations with which EPA engages on environmental and sustainable development issues. The U.N. system contains subsidiary bodies to support its environmental efforts. EPA works with several of these, which are described below.
The United Nations Environment Programme
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), established in 1972, is the designated entity addressing environmental issues at the global and regional level for the United Nations. EPA has had a long and very successful relationship with UNEP, including numerous substantive partnerships and programs. This partnership has advanced work on environmental assessments, capacity building, knowledge management, technology for sustainable development, the green economy, and measurable reductions in pollution – especially related to fuels and vehicles.
The World Health Organization
EPA has a longstanding program of cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO) to address the direct link between protecting public health and supporting a clean environment. We cooperate on a wide range of environmental and children’s health issues, including those associated with air quality, climate change, toxic chemicals and pesticides, and water and sanitation. We also work with WHO on shared efforts to assess risk, to understand how environmental factors contribute to disease, and to develop WHO guidelines for environmental standards (e.g. for air and drinking water quality).
The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)
A founding charter body of the United Nations, ECOSOC is the place where the world’s economic, social and environmental challenges are discussed. ECOSOC is composed of subsidiary bodies, and convenes various high level gatherings related to UN efforts on sustainable development. ECOSOC's efforts have included consultations the led to the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its associated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). ECOSOC also supports the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development that was called for at Rio+20, to replace the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD). EPA has engaged in CSD and related ECOSOC efforts since their inception and continues to follow the work of related to the 2030 Agenda and SDGs, working with the U.S. Department of State.
International Maritime Organization
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) was created in 1948 to promote cooperation between governments and industry in the regulation of shipping engaged in international trade and to encourage the adoption of the highest practicable standards concerning maritime safety, efficiency of navigation, and prevention and control of marine pollution from ships. EPA’s work has led to higher energy efficiency requirements for new ships; stricter emission limits on criteria air pollutants such as NOx, SOx and particulate matter (PM); the implementation of an Emissions Control Area (ECA) for most of North America and the U.S. Caribbean; controls on marine pollution; and the development of environmental provisions in the IMO’s Code for Shipping in Polar Waters (IMO Polar Code).
The Arctic Council, established in 1996, promotes cooperation among Arctic nations, their indigenous inhabitants, and interested non-Arctic nations on sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic. EPA leads U.S. government participation in the Arctic Contaminants Action Programme (ACAP) Working Group, which seeks to reduce contamination from hazardous chemicals and waste, such as mercury and PCBs, as well as reduce emissions of black carbon and other short lived climate pollutants (SLCPs). EPA is also engaged on several specialized task forces, including co-charing the Task Force on Short-Lived Climate Pollutants, focusing on black carbon, methane and associated tropospheric ozone; serving on the Expert Group on Black Carbon and Methane; and co-leading the Indigenous Peoples Contaminants Action Program (IPCAP). In addition, EPA is involved in the Arctic Council’s work to prevent, prepare for and respond to oil spills in the Arctic, as well as follow-up to the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment.
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is a forum for governments committed to democracy and the market economy to support sustainable economic growth, boost employment, raise living standards, maintain financial stability, assist other countries' economic development, and contribute to growth in world trade. EPA leads U.S. engagement with the OECD’s Environment Policy Committee (EPOC) and related subsidiary bodies.
For additional information on EPA's work with International Organizations, contact:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of International and Tribal Affairs (2670R)
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20460