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EPA Administrator Wheeler Highlights International Water Issues, U.S. Leadership at G20

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WASHINGTON (September 12, 2020) — Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler delivered remarks at a meeting of G20 Agriculture and Water Ministers Meeting, under the able Presidency of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where he highlighted U.S. leadership in international water issues. He also stressed to the global community that water issues present the biggest environmental issue right now, citing nearly 2 billion people lack access to safe drinking water and water sanitation.   

The new G20 Water Dialogue, convened for the first time, addressed fostering sustainable and resilient water management. The Dialogue provides a forum for collaboration and sharing of best practices to improve international efforts on water - a pillar of Administrator Wheeler's environmental vision: “Meeting the 21st Century Demands for Water.”

“Water issues are the most immediate environmental concern facing the world right now,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “This translates to three main areas: improving access to safe drinking water, preventing marine litter, and strengthening water infrastructure. The U.S. will continue to take a leadership role in this area.”

Administrator Wheeler discussed the need for greater global innovation on water infrastructure and financing. Under President Trump, EPA has closed on 26 Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loans totaling over $5.6 billion dollars in credit assistance, which in turn is helping finance over $12.4 billion dollars in water infrastructure projects.

In Administrator Wheeler's remarks, he highlighted EPA's Trash Free Waters program. The program works to reduce and prevent trash from entering U.S. waters and the ocean. Nearly 60 percent of marine litter waste comes from six Asian nations. 

The U.S. is taking a leadership role in this area. EPA’s Trash Free Waters program works directly with states, municipalities, and businesses to prevent trash from entering waterways, and capture trash when it has reached the water. We currently have over 50 partnership projects across our country, and we’re taking what we have learned and expanded it to communities in Central America, the Caribbean, and South America.

Additionally, the Agriculture and Water Ministers discussed the impact of COVID-19 to food security and water management, and the importance of avoiding food loss and waste.

In addition to the U.S., countries participating in the G20 Water Dialogue included Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Vietnam, and European Union.

To view Administrator Wheeler's remarks at the ministerial: