Environmental Quality and Transboundary Issues

The State Department’s Office of Environmental Quality and Transboundary Issues (EQT) coordinates development of U.S. foreign policy protecting access to clean water, clean air, food, and a livable environment by working with partners and institutions around the globe.

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 American welfare and on our economy. Globally, the lack of a clean environment can contribute to regional instability, fuel conflict, disrupt markets and cause humanitarian crises. Addressing such problems requires international cooperation and commitment. EQT’s work helps ensure good stewardship of our natural heritage, and protect the health and well-being of American interests throughout the world.

EQT’s efforts fall into the following areas:

Chemicals, Air Quality and Waste: EQT develops and coordinates U.S. policy in the areas of air pollution, toxic chemicals and pesticides, hazardous wastes, and other pollutants, leading U.S. government engagement on numerous chemicals and pollution agreements and initiatives. These 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, the UN ECE Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution Agreement, the Minamata Convention on Mercury, and the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management.

Trade and Environment: EQT coordinates the U.S. government’s trade-related environmental cooperation programs. The trade group works as part of the interagency team that ensures new trade agreements have strong, legally binding, enforceable environment commitments, and monitors compliance. We work together with our trade agreement partners to strengthen their laws and improve enforcement, helping ensure that businesses in these countries are playing by similar environmental rules as U.S. businesses.

Multilateral: EQT helps coordinate U.S. engagement with multilateral organizations such as the UN Environment Program and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to enhance protection of the environment and promote prosperity, national security, health and safety. EQT also contributes to the integration of environmental considerations into the work of multilateral development banks, and promotes progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Permitting: EQT also leads the process of environmental review for presidential permitting of transboundary infrastructure, and consistent with the National Environmental Policy Act, analyzes the possible impacts of such projects on the environment.