U.S. EPA and UNEP partner to protect human health and the environment

Washington, (September 8, 2021 – Today the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signed a renewed five-year Memorandum of Understanding. The agreement addresses key areas of collaboration to strengthen environmental governance, create healthy communities, transition towards green economies, and respond to climate change and other global environmental challenges. The organizations have also committed to lead by using science as the basis to tackle environmental pollution and rising emissions to ensure healthy and productive ecosystems and people.

“I am proud to renew EPA’s commitment to working with UNEP, a key partner and leading global voice on protecting the environment,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “The United States is committed to confronting the environmental challenges we collectively face, with a critical emphasis on protecting the most vulnerable and underserved communities around the world.”

EPA and UNEP share common goals and objectives to protect, conserve, and support the environment, and a long history of collaboration on the most pressing environmental issues. Over time, this work together has included addressing air pollution, climate change, chemicals and waste, marine debris, food loss and waste, and resource efficiency.

EPA and UNEP just celebrated a monumental success for human health and the environment with the elimination of the use of leaded gasoline globally. UNEP serves as the secretariate for the Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles (PCFV) and EPA was a charter member of the partnership along with governments, civil society, and industry partners. This accomplishment will prevent more than 1.2 million premature deaths and save $2.45 trillion a year.

The two organizations have also successfully collaborated to combat marine plastic pollution, a global problem that requires international engagement and solutions. The EPA and UNEP have collaborated through UNEP’s Regional Seas Programme and the Global Partnership on Marine Litter to identify the sources, pathways, and impacts of marine litter; improve science and data; develop projects and activities to help countries control, reduce and prevent marine litter; and raise awareness about this important issue.

“I am pleased to renew the strong partnership between UNEP and the EPA, demonstrating the critical importance of U.S. leadership on global environmental challenges,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP.

“Together, UNEP and the EPA seek to deliver and leverage sound science to address the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution – to secure the health of people and planet.”

Under the renewed agreement, EPA and UNEP have established new areas of cooperation to advance shared priorities, including addressing the disproportionate impacts of environmental challenges on underserved and vulnerable communities.  Protecting these populations and increasing access to decision-making is at the core of Administrator Regan’s agenda for EPA. UNEP remains committed to support countries as they address the needs of communities on the front lines of the triple planetary crises.   

Over the next five years, the agencies’ shared efforts will also focus on climate change, environmental governance, and children’s health. Ongoing efforts will enhance the institutional capacity of countries to meet their Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement, and promote environmental governance to protect environmental resources and services around the world. Collaboration will also continue to focus on protecting children by reducing exposure to toxic substances, in particular lead-based paint and mercury. Ultimately, the agreement will serve to advance societies towards green economies and resource-efficiency to ensure a better future for all.

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