International Cooperation

EPA's Role in International Climate Adaptation

Climate change will impact communities around the world in varying ways and to varying degrees, over time. Yet people living in developing countries are likely to be more adversely affected by current and anticipated climate changes, especially urban centers where populations are expected to grow significantly over the next 20-40 years.

We view our primary contribution to climate adaptation internationally, as facilitating city-to-city sharing of relevant information and experiences, and helping cities build capacity, adapt and build resilience to anticipated climate changes, especially developing country cities.  Given their unique vulnerability, EPA places cities in developing countries at the center of its adaptation strategy.

Current Work

Durban Adaptation Charter (DAC)

The Durban Adaptation Charter for Local Governments (DAC) was the historic outcome of a local government convention held in Durban, South Africa, in December 2011, in parallel with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change 17th Conference of the Parties (UN-FCCC-COP17).  

The Convention was led by Mayor James Nxumalo of Durban, in partnership with the South African Local Government Association, South African Cities Network, South African Department of Environmental Affairs, South African Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) and attended by over 700 high-level delegates from around the world.  After much deliberation, the delegates unanimously adopted what would become widely known as the Durban Adaptation Charter (DAC).  

In signing the DAC signatories commit to take actions to adapt to climate change and build resilience. To date, over 1100 elected local and urban government officials have signed the DAC, most of whom  are from low-middle-income, developing country cities and municipalities, the majority of which are African.  And not least of which, the DAC is Africa led and a source of national pride.

Since its launch in 2011, with the help of its membership and a small international working group of adaptation experts,  government agencies (US EPA and USAID) and international organizations such as ICMA (International City/County Management Association) and ICLEI, have crafted a plan to transform the DAC commitments into a platform for facilitating adaptation action, and to build the membership. As of 2013, that plan was already being implemented, a pillar of which is international city-to-city exchanges such as that   between the City of Durban and the City of Ft. Lauderdale and Broward County FL.  

View the Durban Adaptation Charter and its activities and publications Exit to date.

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OECD Joint DAC-EPOC Task Team on Climate Change and Development

EPA also participates in the Joint DAC-EPOC Task Team on Climate Change and Development of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). 

The goals of this Task Team include: 

  • Developing educational materials to monitor and evaluate effective adaptation practices;
  • Assessing investments in adaptation actions; and
  • Reporting on adaptation policies and practices in various countries, to facilitate sharing of information on adaptation among interested countries and others; and
  • Assessing coordination and governance issues between and among national, urban and local governments.

EPA supports the development of tools for assessing adaptation, and the sharing of adaptation knowledge through OECD reports. To date, EPA has supported, along with the Office of Research and Development, the development of several reports and has also helped support an OECD adaptation policy forum that took place in May, 2012. 

These and other Task Team reports on adaptation to climate change, as well as forthcoming reports on the "Economics of Adaptation – moving from theory to practice,” may be found on the OECD web site: 

The following links exit the site Exit

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Collaboration on Urban Adaptation Web Tool

From 2012-2013, EPA’s Office of International and Tribal Affairs collaborated with the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions or C2ES (formerly the Pew Center on Global Climate Change) in an effort to help C2ES build out its existing, searchable, interactive adaptation map tool to include information on early efforts and progress on climate adaptation on the part of U.S. cities.  C2ES went public with this new urban map tool in August, 2013.  

This effort on the part of C2ES represents the early stages of an aspiration to more fully build out this urban map tool to include a comprehensive, but not necessarily exhaustive assessment of U.S. city-based efforts and progress on adaptation to date.   The tool is intended to facilitate city-to-city learning, nationally and internationally, by providing an easily accessible and readily usable platform for cities to share experiences and knowledge.

The current map tool features information on approximately 50 U.S. cities. View the map toolExit 

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For additional information on EPA's international climate adaptation programs, contact:

Anthony Socci 
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of International and Tribal Affairs (2670R)
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20460