Millennium Development Goal 7 is to ensure environmental sustainability. There are intimate links between global commitments and local efforts on environmental sustainability. Achieving this goal, therefore, depends heavily on action at both the national and international level. There is a growing recognition that institutions – agencies and other bodies working on environment issues – matter in securing the linkages between these levels. The role of national government administration is critical to environmental results. The question to be asked is whether these government institutions are ‘fit for purpose’? The answer in many aid-receiving countries is no, for reasons that now warrant concentrated attention if there is to be progress by 2015. Efforts to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of these official environmental institutions are essential.