By Michelle DePass
June 5 marks World Environment Day, reminding us that pollution knows no national boundaries; mercury is found in fish from the Gulf Coast to the Arctic, airborne particulates travel thousands of miles, and environmental impacts are felt by people across the globe, from Alaskan Native Villages to urban centers in Kenya and Indonesia. On World Environment Day, I am glad to be the messenger for EPA as we recognize efforts around the world to provide people with access to clean, safe, healthy places to live, work, learn and play.
EPA’s six international priorities aim to expand our partnerships in key areas so we can share the techniques we’re using here at home, and learn from our partners around the world. To commemorate World Environment Day, I am glad to highlight our partnerships and priorities in action:
To combat climate change, EPA is leading an initiative to help mitigate black carbon from diesel emissions in the Arctic; and is working with UNEP to help support community adaptation to strained water resources in South Asia.
Last year I visited communities in Jakarta, Indonesia where I saw children struggling to breathe in heavy smog conditions. To help, we’ve launched a program, Breathe Easy, Jakarta, which will serve as a model for how cities around the world can improve urban air quality.
To expand access to clean water, we are teaming up with the International Water Association to improve water and sanitation programs in urban areas across Africa.
We are working with Argonne Labs in order to reduce exposure to toxic chemicals by supporting the installation of EPA developed Mercury Capture Systems inside gold shops, which reduce exposure to mercury by up to 80 percent!
We collaborated with Canada and Mexico to launch a new North American Partnership for Environmental Community Action through the Commission on Environmental Cooperation to support on-the-ground projects and our joint efforts help build strong environmental institutions and legal structures.
As part of a U.S. Government strategy to promote electronics stewardship, we are cleaning up e-waste with the United Nations University’s StEP Initiative by expanding our cooperation with China and nations in West Africa and improving data on e-waste flows from the US.
Linking our domestic and international efforts is essential to meet our goals for healthier communities and greener
economies in today’s globalized world. At EPA, we are proud to join our international partners on World Environment Day, to promote positive
About the author: Michelle DePass, Assistant Administrator for International and Tribal Affairs, US EPA. Michelle DePass has spent her career working to support environmental progress here at home and around the world, at EPA she remains committed to expanding the conversation on environmentalism and ensuring access to clean, safe and healthy communities.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.