This is a multi-year project seeking to situate and compare environmental agencies in their political context and to see how they are facing the governance challenges of the new millennium. The study examines the relationships of these agencies to the other political institutions and actors that have a considerable say on the issue of environmental protection. Drawing on theories of how political actors operate in networks and institutions, this study focuses both on the constraints and opportunities that these agencies confront as well as their internal development of resources and strategies (including alliances, leadership policy instruments, knowledge and policy instruments) to respond to these wider constraints.

This comparative project examines primary evidence (including public documentation and interviews of policy actors and secondary material to assess the evolving actvities of each agency. The agencies included in the study have been selected for their varying degrees of regulatory scope: United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket), the German Umweltbundesamt, the Environment Agency of England and Wales and the European Environmental Agency of the European Union. In addition the project investigates how the environmental actors in the Netherlands cope without an explicit environment agency. The Project looks at how institutions undertake these policy actions more generally, but also includes three case studies to help focus the empirical research: climate change, water quality and waste.