Environmental Quality and Transboundary Issues

Many environmental problems respect no borders and threaten the health, prosperity and even the national security of Americans. Pesticide contamination of food and water, polluted air, and toxic chemicals, some capable of traveling thousands of miles from their source and lasting decades in the environment, all take a toll on our welfare and economy. When people around the globe lack access to energy, clean water, food, or a livable environment, the economic instability and political unrest that may result can be felt at home in the form of costly peacekeeping and humanitarian interventions or lost markets.

Addressing these problems and achieving sustainable management of natural resources worldwide requires the cooperation and commitment of all countries. The State Department, through the Office of Environmental Quality and Transboundary Issues in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs and working with other federal agencies, is seeking to forge this cooperation and these commitments through a variety of diplomatic approaches globally, regionally and bilaterally. These include negotiating effective science-based global treaties and promoting their enforcement, developing international initiatives with key countries to harness market forces to the cause of sustainable development, and creating a foreign policy framework in which innovative public-private partnerships involving U.S. interests can flourish in developed and developing countries worldwide. This movement of environmental issues into the mainstream of U.S. foreign policy has come to be known as Environmental Diplomacy.

The Office of Environmental Quality and Transboundary Issues (EQT) develops U.S. policy on environmental issues in the areas of air pollution, toxic chemicals and pesticides, hazardous wastes, and other pollutants. EQT also leads the process of environmental review for presidential permitting of transboundary infrastructure. Key chemicals and pollution agreements include the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, the Basel Convention on Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes, the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent, and the UN ECE Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution Agreement. The Office also focuses on a variety of multilateral organizations and issues such as the UN Environment Program, the OECD Environment Policy Committee, the North American Commission on Environmental Cooperation, trade and the environment, and the integration of environmental considerations into the work of the World Bank and other multilateral development banks.