International Cooperation

International Priorities

The Environmental Protection Agency has a long history of international collaboration on a wide range of global environmental issues. In recent years, EPA’s bilateral and multilateral partnerships have taken on new significance in the face of shared environmental and governance challenges, such as global climate change and improving children’s environmental health outcomes.

It is our vision that environmental progress in cooperation with global partners can catalyze even greater progress toward protecting our domestic environment including adapting to climate change, ensuring national security, facilitating commerce, promoting sustainable development, and engaging diplomatically around the world. To advance all of these goals, EPA has identified the following six international priorities.

Strong Environmental Institutions

Countries need adequate governmental structures to enforce environmental protections. EPA will work with countries such as India, Ghana, Kenya and Brazil to develop and support the promotion of good governance, improve judicial and legal structures and design the regulatory systems necessary for effective environmental protection around the world.

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    Climate Change

    EPA has taken important steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at home, but the global challenge of climate change requires a global solution. To make significant progress in reducing the effects of climate change, pollution must be cut throughout the world.

    EPA will promote global strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants such as methane from landfills and black carbon from cookstoves and diesel engines. These pollutants are damaging especially vulnerable regions such as the Himalayan glaciers and the Arctic.

    Air Quality

    Air pollution does not recognize national boundaries.  By working with other countries, EPA is better able to understand and address sources of air pollution outside the United States and appropriately account for the impacts of this pollution in developing efficient and effective programs to protect air quality and public health in the United States.  EPA’s leading role in international cooperation to address air pollution also helps promote new markets for clean technology from American businesses and ensure a level playing field for American businesses in the global marketplace.

    EPA engages internationally through bilateral, trilateral, and multi-lateral agreements and initiatives to:

    • Support development of air quality management capacity and tools (e.g., monitoring, modeling, emissions inventories, and forecasting)
    • Evaluate and demonstrate technology options
    • Advance understanding of the health, social, economic, and environmental benefits of air pollution control strategies
    • Improve public information and awareness
    • Facilitate cooperative research

    Other Regional Efforts:

    Clean Water

    Water bodies in the United States and throughout the world remain imperiled. EPA will support global partners and regions, such as the Caribbean, in creating safe and efficient drinking water and wastewater treatment systems. The agency also will help in providing long-term, sustainable and high-quality drinking water and sanitation systems for overburdened and underserved communities such as those along the U.S.-Mexican border.

    Toxic Chemicals

    Chemicals are prevalent in everything from food to baby bottles. As children develop, they are especially vulnerable to these chemicals, particularly mercury and lead.

    While EPA works closely with Congress to strengthen our chemical laws, the agency also will work with our global partners to provide protections for people and consistency for industry. In working with partners like the United Nations Environment Programme, EPA will strive to reduce or eliminate the impact of pesticides and other toxic chemicals.

    EPA provides technical support and capacity building for the negotiation and implementation of multilateral environmental agreements on chemicals and waste, including:

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    E-Waste

    For EPA, "cleaning up e-waste" is a global priority with an aim to reduce harm from US exports of e-waste and to improve the safe handling of used electronics in developing countries. The National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship includes goals and actions, both domestic and international, that EPA and the rest of the Federal government will undertake to improve electronics stewardship, thereby reducing negative effects of the growing stream of e-waste.

    While accurate data on the amount of e-waste being exported from the US are not available, EPA is concerned about mismanagement abroad causing serious public health and environment impacts. EPA will work with international partners to address the issues of e-waste, and will focus on ways to improve the design, production, handling, reuse, recycling, exporting and disposal of electronics.