Environment Directorate

Environment Policy Committee (EPOC)


Committee structure

The Environment Policy Committee (EPOC) implements the OECD’s Environment Programme. Established in 1971, EPOC consists of senior-level delegates from capitals and meets three times every two years. The Committee holds meetings at the Ministerial level approximately every four years.

At the last 2022 ministerial meeting, Environment Ministers met under the theme "Ensuring a Resilient and Healthy Environment for All” and featured two central focuses – climate and plastics. Ministers discussed the climate challenge and next steps after COP26, with critical themes including climate finance, mitigation and adaptation, pricing carbon and bridging the gap between longer-term goals and near-term commitments. The release of the OECD’s first-of-its-kind Global Plastics Outlook provided a unique input for Ministers to discuss plastics including the urgent need to reduce the amount of waste and toxic substances entering the environment, while making much more efficient use of scarce resources.

EPOC oversees work on: country reviews, indicators and outlooks, climate change, natural resource management, policy tools and evaluation, environment and development, and resource efficiency and waste, supported by EPOC’s seven Working Parties. EPOC formally co-operates with other OECD Committees, including through Joint Working Parties on Trade and Environment and on Agriculture and Environment, as well as Joint Meetings of Experts on Tax and Environment. The committee also works with other OECD committees to ensure consistency of the messages as they pertain to environment as well as ensuring horizontal links with other work in the OECD.

The Chemicals Committee, like EPOC, reports directly to the OECD Council. EPOC’s Working Party on Chemicals, Pesticides and Biotechnology and the Chemicals Committee together form the Joint Meeting which oversees the Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) Programme:

Key topics

The OECD Environment Directorate and the International Energy Agency (IEA) jointly serve as the Secretariat for the Climate Change Expert Group undertaking studies on issues related to the negotiation and implementation of international agreements on climate change.

The OECD Environment Directorate also functions as the Secretariat for the Task Force for the Implementation of the GREEN Action Programme. The Task Force provides a forum for dialogue and co-operation for countries in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA).

The Environment Programme is carried out in co-operation with international and regional organisations, e.g. the World Bank, UNEP, WTO, UNECE and Secretariats for UNFCCC, CBD and the Basel Convention. Key research institutes are also important partners, as is civil society represented through business, labour and environmental NGOs. EPOC is actively engaging with key emerging economies through the Global Forum on Environment and the Global Forum on Biotechnology.


The OECD Council adopted the Recommendation on Water on 13 December 2016.

The OECD has been providing policy guidance on water to OECD members and non-OECD member countries since the early 1970s, covering a wide range of issues including water quantity and quality management, the management of water-related risks, governance, and pricing and financing water services and infrastructure. It covers water uses in agriculture, urban water management and related issues.

The OECD Council Recommendation on Water captures the main messages that derive from that work. It builds on a 2-year consultation process with OECD member countries, and stakeholders, in particular members of the OECD Water Governance Initiative and provides a unique source of policy guidance that help address the pressing issues that central and subnational authorities need to respond to.

40 years of the committee (1971-2011)

2011 marked OECD's 50th anniversary and EPOC's 40th anniversary.

The Environment Policy Committee is playing a key role as a pathfinder for effective and economically efficient responses to pressing environmental challenges – from polluted air to municipal waste, from scarce water to the ozone depletion, and from biodiversity loss to climate change.

Brochure: EPOC's 40th anniversary (PDF)

Further reading


Related Documents