The conservation and stewardship of natural resources; reliable and affordable access to secure, modern energy services; and modern, resilient infrastructure are critical to promote sustainable growth, enhance security, and accelerate progress toward resilience and prosperity.

The remarkable progress in global development is increasingly threatened by unprecedented environmental degradation, climate change, and inadequate infrastructure to sustain improvements in human welfare.

Warmer temperatures, rapid urbanization, habitat loss and fragmentation, and the unsustainable use of natural resources contribute to major challenges—from pandemics to pollution—that endanger human health, economic growth, and global stability. While more than a billion people have gained access to electricity since 2010, 789 million people worldwide still lacked access as of 2018, and many more suffer from poor service quality, including frequent and long power outages. And in many developing countries, basic infrastructure is failing, insufficient, or non-existent.

Sound stewardship of environmental and natural resources helps build healthier populations, strengthens livelihoods, reduces conflict, promotes stability, increases resilience, and creates lasting economic opportunities. Energy sector reforms improve energy efficiency while reducing emissions, lowering costs, spurring economic growth, and increasing access to affordable modern energy services. Improving infrastructure fosters stability and accelerates economic growth, particularly in countries recovering from conflict and disaster, allowing them to progress beyond assistance.

The root causes and impacts of environmental and natural resource degradation, climate change, and pollution cut across all sectors, and the increasing intensity and complexity of these environmental challenges call for a new way of doing business at USAID—an approach that looks beyond stand-alone environment programming to enhanced integration and collaboration across the Agency.


USAID’s global biodiversity funding supports natural systems and the people whose health and livelihoods depend on them. In fiscal year 2019, USAID worked in nearly 60 countries around the world to conserve biodiversity, leverage private sector funds, fight conservation crime, and support sustainable fisheries, all of which help partner countries build resilience and shape their futures. USAID’s comprehensive strategy to combat wildlife crime strengthens law enforcement from parks to ports, reduces consumer demand for illegal wildlife products, and strengthens international cooperation. Learn more about USAID’s work on biodiversity.

Climate Change

The world must halve carbon dioxide and other emissions driving climate change by 2030 to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. This requires big changes in how economies are powered, cities and buildings designed, and forests and land managed, to name but a few priority areas. At the same time, climate variability and change already affect social and economic development in multiple ways. At USAID, we integrate what we know about clean growth, natural resource management, and climate adaptation in our planning and programming. Many USAID activities—in particular, our adaptation, renewable energy, and sustainable landscapes programs—contribute to both climate change and development objectives. And through climate risk management—an internal Agency practice of assessing, addressing, and adaptively managing climate risks—USAID improves the impact and sustainability of its programming. Learn more about USAID’s work on climate change.


Through its established field presence, global and country-level industry networks, and long-standing relationships with government and private sector partners, USAID embraces an integrated approach to energy sector reform to reduce barriers to private investment and open clean energy markets, strengthen governing institutions, reduce air pollution and emissions, and develop resilient and financially viable power systems. Learn more about USAID’s work on energy.

Natural Climate Solutions

USAID advances natural climate solutions through sustainable landscapes programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon storage from land use by promoting ambitious, systemic, natural climate solutions, including improving policies, creating incentives for sustainable stewardship, promoting sound management practices, and improving transparent land use and carbon monitoring systems. USAID forestry programs reduce illegal logging and promote improved forest conservation and management for multiple environmental and developmental goals. Learn more about USAID’s work on natural climate solutions.


Investments in infrastructure are a core part of USAID’s work and advance our humanitarian assistance and development objectives around the world. USAID’s approach to infrastructure development is more than just bricks and mortar—it involves establishing sustainable service providers and institutions that can effectively build, operate, and maintain their critical infrastructure. USAID amplifies its infrastructure investments with capacity-building, sectoral reform, financing, innovative technology, and collaboration with the private sector. Learn more about USAID’s work on infrastructure.

Land and Resource Governance

Many people, businesses and communities in the developing world lack secure land and resource rights, with nearly one billion people expected to be forced out of their homes against their will in the next five years. USAID supports policies, programs, and partnerships that clarify and strengthen land rights and improve resource governance systems, with a significant focus on improving women’s land rights. USAID empowers communities with the tools and methods to map, record, and document their land and resources, including through our participatory Mobile Approaches to Secure Tenure (MAST) initiative. USAID also works to improve the governance of other resources, including minerals. Specifically, USAID works with partner countries to formalize and regulate artisanal and small-scale mining of gold; diamonds; tin, tantalum, and tungsten; and semi-precious stones. USAID programs foster artisanal and small-scale mining supply chains that are legal and environmentally and socially responsible. Learn more about USAID’s work on land and resource governance.

Pollution and Green Cities

Cities are hubs of global human activities. They are where 75 percent of total global resources are used and pollution is produced. USAID supports a local, community-based approach and partnerships with the private sector, government, and community organizations to reduce air pollution, improve waste management and recycling to prevent plastics from entering the ocean, identify areas adversely affected by toxic pollution, and develop solutions to mitigate those threats. Learn more about USAID’s work on pollution and green cities.

Environmental and Natural Resource Management (ENRM) Framework

USAID launched the ENRM Framework to coordinate, unify, and elevate environmental and natural resource management across the Agency. The ENRM Framework provides a new business model for USAID and a vision for integration that will help us work better and smarter across sectors to improve environmental outcomes, streamline field support, and align with major strategic shifts at the Agency. Learn more about the ENRM Framework.

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