Vol. 10 No. 10 Nov/Dec 2002 
  Our Environment: Part 2, Governments, Laws, and Organizations
  by Barbie E. Keiser • Consultant
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Part 1 of this series appears in the September 2002 issue of Searcher.
Part 3 of this series appears in the February 2003 issue of Searcher.
International organizations, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and governmental agencies provide vast resources of environmental information, documentation, publications, research, statistics, and databases.

The most logical starting point is the United Nations Environmental Programme [], but you should also consult other agencies within the U.N. system for data, reports, and other publications. Searching the U.N. can get complicated. For example, do not confuse the United Nations Environment Programme Web site [] with that of UNEP Programmes in Geneva [].

The Official Web Site Locator for the United Nations System of Organizations [] provides both an alphabetical and thematic index, plus a U.N. System chart and, most importantly, links to U.N. information centers. The following United Nations Web sites carry significant sections devoted to environmental issues, with particular emphasis on the long-term effects on poorer developing nations of ineffective environmental policies.

  • EarthWatch [] offers a database searchable by environmental issues (from agriculture to toxic chemicals) and regions. Introduced in 1973 "as a means of coordinating and acting as a catalyst for all environmental monitoring and assessment activities throughout the entire U.N. system. The raison d'être was and remains to provide "integrated" information gathered from across the U.N. system relevant for policymaking by building essential partnerships across the U.N. system with the scientific community, governments, and NGOs."
  • The UNEPChemicals Web site [] "is the center for all chemicals-related activities of the United Nations Environment Programme." Its goal "is to make the world a safer place from toxic chemicals." It does this "by helping governments take needed global actions for the sound management of chemicals, by promoting the exchange of information on chemicals, and by helping to build the capacities of countries around the world to use chemicals safely."
  • The navigation bar on the left-hand side of the United Nations EconomicCommission for Europe's home page [] links to a variety of departments, programs, Web pages, and documents concerned with various aspects of the environment.
  • The United Nations Development Programme — Environment and Sustainable Energy[] details projects undertaken by the U.N. "in building national capacity for environmentally sustainable development by promoting global best practices and supporting strategic interventions." These efforts include dealing with water contamination, land degradation, air pollution, climate change, and clean, affordable energy, in particular for the poorest of nations.
  • United Nations Sustainable Development Web site [] outlines the work of the Commission for Sustainable Development. Small Islands and Forests are two of the Commission's targets.
  • "Agenda 21 [] is a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally, and locally by organizations of the United Nations System, Governments, and Major Groups."

The World Bank has an entire department devoted to the environment [], but other sections of the World Bank Web site also provide information on environmental resources and publications. The environment is one of the major sectors that demonstrate the Bank's efforts to incorporate sustainability into its activities. The Bank's new environment strategy and agenda appear on its Web page, along with information about projects and publications. The page links to the Bank's new Sustainable Development Web site and an e-discussion of Poverty and Environment Linkages.

  • The World Bank Environmental Economics and Indicators Web site [] focuses on five major areas: Environmental Indicators, Green Accounting, Environmental Valuation, Environmental Policy, and Poverty and the Environment. Payments for ecological service. New initiatives, publications, and related links make this an informative and unique site. The Bank's Environmental Mattersmagazine [] is available online (current issue plus an archive of back issues). Published each fall, the year's featured article is viewable in PDF format. You can add your name to the Environment Department's mailing list to receive this (and other) departmental publication(s).
  • New Ideas in Pollution Regulation [] is "a site for researchers, government officials, and citizens interested in understanding and improving control of industrial pollution, especially in developing countries." Both the navigation on this site and the links provided to resources beyond the World Bank's Economics of Industrial Pollution Control Research Project are wonderful and unique. Take special note of NIPR on the Net [], which grants visitors access to the full text of such reports as "Greening Industry" [] and even the press conference and public seminar held in 1999 on the occasion of the report's release [].
  • Environmental Agencies on the Web [] presents "highlights of materials available online from environmental agencies around the world," from Australia to the U.K.
  • The International Finance Corporation (IFC) Environment and Social Development Department [] provides "environmental and social review services for all of IFC's investments, catalyze[s] projects with specific environmental benefits, and provide[s] training services for IFC staff and clients." The site contains both safeguard policies and guidelines for IFC projects; a list of environmental projects underway, including criteria for selection; publications; and related links. The right-hand navigation bar gives viewers easy access to new publications (including published guidelines on such topics as hazardous materials management and healthcare facilities).

Regional development banks and geo-political alliances also deal with environmental issues pertaining to their regions.

  • The environment is a major topic covered by the Asian Development Bank [] programs [] and the site contains environment-related documents, such as an Environmental Policy for the Bank []. Press releases on the site announce such activities as a new Training Guide for Environmental Law Students in Asia and Pacific and ADB Board of Directors Approves Recommendations on Wastewater Management Project in Thailand.
  • The African Development BankWeb site [] does not contain the entire Policies and Procedures Environmental Sector Policy Paper online, but you can obtain a copy from the Webmaster.
  • The Environmental Impact Assessments published by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development are accessible online [], with some available in English translation.
  • The Pacific Basin Economic Conference [] has a Working Committee on the Environment.
  • The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Web site [] features several reasonably priced publications concerning the environment, including such titles as "Regional Study on the Causes and Consequences of Natural Disasters and the Protection and Preservation of the Environment" and "Regional Study on the Greenhouse Effect and its Impact on the Region."
  • Briefing Papers on the Environment are available on the Asean Web site [].
  • G8 Global Information Society ProjectTheme 6 — Environment and NaturalResources Management[] "is one of 11 Global Information Society projects developed.... The long-term result of this effort would be a virtual library of information on environment and natural resources management held in globally distributed electronic sites and accessible on emerging electronic networks." While never fully achieving its stated goals, the site contains press releases, information about three Working Groups (Meta information, Climate change, and Biological diversity), links to preliminary and final reports [], and a link to Global Environmental InformationLocator Service [].
  • The OECD "Environment Directorate Portal, found on the left-hand navigation bar of the OECD home page [], provides governments with the analytical basis to develop policies that are effective and economically efficient, including through country performance reviews, data collection, policy analysis, projections and modelling, and the development of common approaches." Search the OECD Web site [] for all documents published within the Theme = Environment. (When we last checked, there were 1,628 documents available from the OECDEnvironment Directorate.) Key Environmental Indicators and other statistical data related to the environment can be found in the OECDStatistics Portal, also located on the left-hand navigation bar of the OECD home page [].
  • The European Environment Agency[] "aims to support sustainable development and to help achieve significant and measurable improvement in Europe's environment through the provision of timely, targeted, relevant,and reliable information to policy-making agents and the public." You can use this well-organized site to find out about the environment in European countries (reports, indicators, links, datasets, targets).
  • EUROPA Activities of the European Union— Environment[]has a clean look and the feel of a quality site. It links to source material on European environmental law, policy implementation, and other types of information, including fact sheets, online publications, and statistics.
  • The European Commission'sEnvironment Directorate-General Web site []outlines the Commission's Environmental Action Programme (to 2010). The Programme's four priority areas are Climate Change, Nature and Biodiversity, Environment and Health, and Natural Resources and Waste.
  • The Transboundary Environmental Information Agency [] is a not-for-profit organization promoting environmental cooperation among the Baltic States and Russia. Some publications are available in English. Perhaps most important is the list of links to environmental resources throughout the region.

Government Web Sites

National environmental government agencies may concentrate on individual countries, but may also cover other countries within their region or those with whom they have long-standing relationships. Natural ResourcesResearch Information Pages include links to government agencies by country []. The site also offers an extensive list of links to databases and literature (guides and catalogs, online documents, bibliographies, scientific journals, newsletters, libraries, publishers/bookstores), as well as conferences and meetings (including mailing lists).

  • Environment Australia [, formerly located at], is an example of a government Web page providing access to a nation's laws concerning the environment; "key activities," including Greenhouse Issues and State of the Environment; and links to a variety of databases and publications available on the site. Topics covered include Antarctica, Atmosphere, Biodiversity, Coasts and Oceans, Industry, Inland Waters, Land Management, and Meteorology.
  • While Australia's Environmental Portal grows [], users should also refer to Infoterra Australia's Guide to Environmental Resources []. Infoterra "provides a single access point for information about Australian government environmental programs and services." Topics covered include atmosphere, biodiversity, coasts and oceans, environmental protection, heritage, inland waters, and land. Besides the Infoterra database, the site's resources include a library of directories, educational resources, government publications, regulation, and reporting. For optimal results, refer to the subject index (based on the Infoterra Thesaurus] before executing a search on the site.
  • The Environment Canada Web site [], referred to as the Green Lane [], is the premier example of a comprehensive site devoted to the environment: acts and regulations; conferences and events; programs and services, including clean air, water, climate change, environmental assessment and enforcement, chemical safety, pollution, endangered species, etc.; and related links. The Green Lane: Newsletters page [] presents a list of 15 online Canadian newsletters (French and English) covering a range of environmental issues.
  • The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency [] "coordinates and promotes environmental work" on 15 environmental quality objectives. Environmental issues covered on the site (in English) include mercury; waste from electrical and electronic equipment; IT and the environment; environmental monitoring and planning; pollutants; greenhouse gases; acidification; heavy metals; nitrogen oxides; persistent organic pollutants; climate change; nature; and legislation/regulation. Links to related sites Bridging theGap; EnviroReport(Swedish facts and figures); and Swedenvironment (newsletter).
  • Environment in Portugal: Resources in the Internet [] provides not only links to Portuguese government sites concerning the environment, but company directories.
  • Search more than 140,000 pages and nine databases or browse over 500 selected Topic pages (air, water, noise, soil, waste, etc.) using theGerman Environmental Information Network [].
  • At first glance, it's difficult to see the key figures available on the environment in The Netherlands Environmental Statistics []. Just toggle all the way down the home page to view "Net environmental costs paid by industry" or "Annual waste generation."
  • Environment of Lithuania [] is an interesting set of Web pages in both Lithuanian and English concentrating on environmental protection strategies. Lithuania's Environment: Status, Processes, Trends [] gives an unusual but educational presentation of information resources available on the state of the environment in Lithuania.
  • The United Kingdom Environment Agency Web site [] "contains a wealth of environmental information, tools, resources and features... regulating industry, maintaining flood defences and water resources, and improving wildlife habitats" in England and Wales. If you can't remember other department Web sites covering environmental issues in the U.K., check the Open Government []. For example, Britain's Environmental Facts and Figures appear at
  • Environmental Protection from the U.K. Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs [] presents a list of broad topics covered within the site (from air quality to water), plus an extensive list of narrower topics (such as eco-labeling, environmental campaigns, Environment Plus-CD) and external links.
  • Part of the Natural Environment Research Council, the Centre for Ecology andHydrologyWeb site [] provides a short list of links to reports, data, and surveys.
  • The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency Web site [] provides easy access to environmental data, regulations, policies, and publications. Remember, ".sc" is not used for Scottish governmental agencies.
  • Aside from all the Environmental Protection Agency databases you might wish to search [e.g., Envirofacts at] and the documents retrievable on the EPA site, browsing EPA Topics [] offers a great way to begin research concerning the environment in the U.S. [For security reasons, the Environmental Protection Agency has discontinued direct access to the Envirofacts databases for the general public. Limited access remains possible at]
  • The National Center for Environmental Economics [] is an easy-to-navigate directory of reports, working papers, and journal publications; conferences, seminars, and workshops; analyses; and course materials.

To find an official government server within a particular nation is not very difficult. Many nations have established Web sites to serve as locators for individual governmental departments and agencies, sometimes referred to as a Government Information Locator Service (GILS). For example, the U.S. has GPO AccessGovernment Information Locator Service [], an excellent starting point for finding government Web sites and documents on specific topics related to environmental issues. Other GPO Access sub-sites useful for identifying these resources include Multi-Database Search [] and the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications [].

GovSearch [] offers an easy-to-use guide to search engines specifically designed for government agencies, departments, and resources. For a list of federal government offices concerned with the environment and energy, take a look at The Blue PagesEnvironment and Energy [].

Identifying official servers to search for environmental agency Web pages across country lines has proved more difficult, particularly since Governments on the WWW [] has not updated since 2000. Remarkably, many of the links are still valid (or automatically redirect visitors to new sites). The site remains a convenient way of linking to official government Web sites when you need to cover several countries at once. The European Environmental Law Homepage [] is an excellent link, not only to environmental laws for 23 countries, but also to official government servers and individual departments within these governments, including environmental agencies. A separate section includes eight separate links to environmental law resources for Central and Eastern Europe as a region.

To locate official U.S. state government servers in the United States, consult State and LocalGovernment on the Net []. Easily navigated, the site lists the date of the last update for each state clearly. The State Web Locator [] is also easy to use, but the choice of agencies listed within some of the states is puzzling, given the absence of other, seemingly more critical departments.

The E.B. Williams Law Library at Georgetown University [] provides an Alabama-Wyoming (plus U.S. Territories) list of links to state government information and agency Web sites. The Links to State Government Sites Web site [] could not be easier to use. Simply click on any state on the map to go to the state's official Web site. Of course, the quality varies from state to state, but most point directly to their state agency/agencies associated with the environment. The U.S. Environmental Protection AgencyState and Local Gateway:Environment/Energy [] provides links to laws, regulations, reference materials, FAQs, funding, tools, and "best practices."

To access a directory containing links to state environmental and natural resource regulatory agencies, use Capitol Reports/Environmental News Link[].

If you feel lucky, try using the URL [], where XX is the official two-letter postal code for the state in question. Some states, such as New York, dub their agencies Department of Environmental Conservation instead of the Department of Environmental Protection (e.g., Pennsylvania). Simply insert ".dec" in place of ".dep" in the URL and see what happens.

You can search for official statistics related to the environment around the world using New Zealand's OFFSTATS database []. A more limited set of resources can be searched for similar statistical data on the International Business Resources on the Web Resource Desk []. Search the Eurostat database for items related to environmental issues []. (Simply click on Environment and Energy to view current publications, print and electronic. The EU Environment Statistics Pocketbook is an essential.)

Individual country governments sometimes provide access to government statistical resources:

Environmental Laws and Regulations

One can go to government Web sites to locate environmental legislation. Search the U.K. Parliament Pages [] for the appropriate document by keyword, date, and document type (including bills). Legislative actions of the U.S. Congress [] and regulations (U.S. Environmental Protection AgencyLaws and Regulations) are available online through the EPA's Web site [], 40 CFRCompendium of U.S. EnvironmentalRegulations [], and U.S. Federal Register []. However, legal issues related to the environment are covered in a variety of types of resources and sites. Use a search engine or directory or turn to several legal portals that can assist.

As with any search, understanding the scope, including the geographic region covered by a resource's content, is critical. Sources such as Kluwer'sInternationalEncyclopedia of Laws: Environmental Law [] can provide an international perspective, but the number of countries covered in this loose-leaf service is limited. Updated only 4-6 times per year, with entire country sections replaced by a revision, there is no way to know about minor changes in environmental laws. (Better use of the Internet to provide updates for the entire series should be considered.)

You can search for European environmental treaties, legislation in force and preparation, case law, Parliamentary questions, and "documents for public interest" on EUR-Lex, the portal to European Union law []. For a more direct, but unofficial route to the region's environmental law, consult the European Environmental Law Homepage [ The site provides a regional perspective regarding treaties, legislation, case law, documents, and dossiers. Registered users can subscribe to a free e-mail EEL News Service.

Treaties relating to the environment can be retrieved from many Web sites dealing with international law.

  • While Globelaw International and Transnational Law [] does not update frequently, it still contains an extensive set of valid links relating to global environmental law and multilateral conventions.
  • Environmental Treaties and Resource Indicators [] provides a comprehensive service "for finding information about environmental treaties and national resource indicators."
  • The University of Bologna's Faculty of Political Science has created a Research Guide to International Law on the Internet that includes the category EnvironmentalLaw [] featuring an extensive list of links to international treaties covering environmental law and other related Web sites.
  • At the InfoTerra node for Central and Eastern Europe, you can browse EU legislation and search environmental mailing list archived discussions on the CEDAR:Central European Data Request Facility [].

The North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation [] was established to address regional environmental concerns, complementing the environmental provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Programs and projects center around four major initiatives: Environment, Economy, and Trade; Conservation of Biodiversity; Pollutants and Health; Law and Policy. You can download publications and search four databases — Electricity and Environment; Sustainable Tourism; Transboundary.

Agreements; and Summary of Environmental Law in North America. Links to related documents and sites are extensive and not restricted to the region.

Topic-specific World Wide Web sites often also publish copies of laws that affect their product/service/industry. For example, [] features full-text documents from the Federal Register, regulations, EPA Pesticide Registration Notices, and an EPA Label Review Manual.

Law schools around the world have developed sophisticated Web sites devoted to researching specific law topics. Their coverage and scope differ, as the following list highlights.

Many law schools publish quarterly law reviews on specific topics such as environmental law (e.g., Duke Environmental Law and Policy Forum or Berkeley's Ecology Law Quarterly). For a convenient selection by subject, try Legal Journals on the Web []. For another way to search legal journals for articles or experts, log on to the Social Science Research Network's [] Legal Research Network [].

Some of the tools discussed elsewhere in this article (e.g., SOSIG) can identify environmental law resources available on the Net, but two services focus on legal resources. The Law Library Resource Xchange provides "legal and library professionals with the most up-to-date information on a wide range of Internet research and technology-related issues, applications, resources, and tools." On the subject of environmental law, try a quick check of Zimmerman's Research Guide []. The current edition of the LLRX Environmental Law Guide can be reached directly at

The VirtualChase features Internet Research Guides and Teaching Tools. The site, sponsored by Ballard Spahr Andrews and Ingersoll, LLP, was developed by Genie Tyburski in 1996 and continues to be a major resource for the legal community and law librarians in particular. TVCLegal Research Guide: Environmental Law [] features annotated resources and links to databases available from the EPA. (Sign up for an e-alert for notification of Environmental Law page changes.) Links to other useful databases and federal agencies round out the offering. If you toggle down, you will see an annotated list of "Top Resources in Environmental Law."

Law school libraries can prove of enormous assistance in terms of guiding visitors to appropriate legal resources concerning the environment.

See Table 1, "Selected Environmental Law Resources on the World Wide Web," on page 61 for more sites.

Don't ignore individual law firms with large environmental law practices. To locate a specialist, search the Martindale-Hubble Web site by Practice to locate law firms specializing in Environmental Law [].

  • Morgan, Lewis and Bockius Environmental Law Information Resources [] features an environmental law newsletter; environmental deskbooks; and information about the Clean Air Act, Superfund, and RCRA.
  • There used to be an Environmental Law Newsletter available from the Milbank, Tweed library []. Like many of its resources, the newsletter has not yet made the transition to the new Knowledge Center. To identify resources available here, you must search the database [].
  • Arent Fox'sPractice Area = Environmental [] includes occasional articles on environmental issues.
  • Barlow, Lyde and Gilbert [] publishes a quarterly, Pollution and Environmental RiskDigest designed to "help clients keep abreast of changing legislation and new areas of potential liability. The Digest covers both U.K. and overseas news and provides a concise guide to developments in this complex and rapidly expanding field of legal liability." The current issue, plus archives, are accessible online.

Organizations Concerned with the Environment

As a source of information and expert assistance, we need to distinguish between organizations that issue policy papers dealing with many social issues, including the environment, versus those that might be considered "activist" on behalf of environmental concerns. For instance, the Cato Institute issues policy papers on many subjects, many made available in full text on its Web site. The institute has an entire research area devoted to Natural Resources andEnvironmental Studies [], with papers organized by topic (e.g., Risk Analysis and Management, Global Warming and Ozone Depletion, Public Lands Management, Hazardous and Toxic Waste, Air and Water Pollution, etc.).

Finding associations devoted to environmental concerns can begin with Gale's Encyclopedia ofAssociations, of course, but several sites on the Web can also help. You can search the American Society of Association Executive'sGateway toAssociations Online [], which links to 72 associations under the subject category "environment." The TechExpo Directory of Hi-Tech Organizations in the Engineering and Medical/Life Sciences [] may appear an odd choice, but its list of technical, engineering, and science societies and organizations includes some excellent environmental associations. Listings are by name of society (A-Z), making life more difficult than need be; organization by subject would be an improvement.

Some associations may have specific interest groups established to deal with environmental issues. The American Bar Association [] has several sections publishing works and holding conferences concerned with environmental law and litigation (e.g., Environment, Energy, and Resources; Real Property, Probate and Trust Law; Tort and Insurance Practice). Don't limit yourself to searching for books published by the ABA. The Association's Continuing Legal Education (CLE) materials, available in book and tape format, include several resources covering environmental law.

Library associations with special groups devoted to environmental information can be an excellent resource and referral. With the demise of the Federation for Information andDocumentation (FID), we can no longer rely on its international network of documentalists belonging to the Environmental Information Special Interest Group. Perhaps another organization, such as IFLA or ASLIB, will fill the void created by the disbanding of this active FID SIG.

The American Library Association'sTask Force on the Environment [], as well as its Social Responsibilities Roundtable with its "Green Notes" publication [], can help. Not to be outdone, the Special Libraries Association (SLA) has an active Environmental Resources Management Division (ERMD), with a Web site []. ERMD maintains a discussion group open to non-members [].

See Table 2," Green Organizations: Associations Focused on Environmental Protection and Conservation," above for more sites to check out.

Web sites that market environmentally friendly products should probably be included in this group of organizations. EcoMall [] links to Earth-friendly apparel and home furnishings manufacturers and retailers, food producers and markets, and travel and restaurant advice. The site has a searchable GreenMagazine and maintains a range of resources for children as well as adults. The Real Goods catalog [] features "products for an ecologically sustainable future." If you don't find what you need on either of these sites, try one of the Web sites listed in Google's directory ("Category: Shopping > Niche > Green Living") for additional sites.

Environmentally friendly products, services, and standards will be covered in greater detail in the next installment of this article. For a sneak-peak at these types of Web sites, check out Green Home Building [].

Eco-tourism is another relatively new industry, but growing at an extraordinary rate. Many museums and environmental organizations sponsor such tours. For an interesting list of tours arranged by subject (e.g., birds, fish, habitats, etc.), take a look at the trips listed on [], "resources for adventure travel, environmental, and extreme sports." Some of the major travel portals and even the search directories (e.g., Yahoo!) can assist you.

If you didn't see your favorite environmental Web site mentioned here, stay tuned. Much more to follow.

Barbie E. Keiser is an information resources management consultant located in metro Washington, DC [].
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