The core functions of the directorate are:-
- Coordinating the various environmental management activities being undertaken by the lead agencies
- Promote the integration of environmental considerations into development policies, plans, programmes and projects, with a view to ensuring the proper management and rational utilization of environmental resources, on sustainable yield basis, for the improvement of the quality of human life in Kenya.
- To take stock of the natural resources in Kenya and their utilization and conservation.
- To establish and review land use guidelines.
- Examine land use patterns to determine their impact on the quality and quantity of natural resources.
- Carry out surveys, which will assist in the proper management and conservation of the environment.
- Advise the Government on legislative and other measures for the management of the environment or the implementation of relevant international conventions, treaties and agreements.
- Advise the Government on regional and international conventions, treaties and agreements to which Kenya should be a party and follow up the implementation of such agreements.
- Undertake and coordinate research, investigation and surveys, collect, collate and disseminate information on the findings of such research, investigations or surveys.
- Mobilize and monitor the use of financial and human resources for environmental management.
- Identify projects and programmes for which environmental audit or environmental monitoring must be conducted under this Act.
- Initiate and evolve procedures and safeguards for the prevention of accidents, which may cause environmental degradation and evolve remedial measures where accidents occur e.g. floods, landslides and oil spills.
- Monitor and assess activities, including activities being carried out by relevant lead agencies, in order to ensure that the environment is not degraded by such activities. Management objectives must be adhered to and adequate early warning on impending environmental emergencies is given.
- Undertake, in cooperation with relevant lead agencies, programmes intended to enhance environmental education and public awareness, about the need for sound environmental management, as well as for enlisting public support and encouraging the effort made by other entities in that regard.
- Publish and disseminate manual codes or guidelines relating to environmental management and prevention or abatement of environmental degradation.
- Render advice and technical support, where possible, to entities engaged in natural resources management and environmental protection, so as to enable them to carry out their responsibilities satisfactorily.
- Prepare and issue an annual report on the State of Environment in Kenya and in this regard, may direct any lead agency to prepare and submit to it a report on the state of the sector of the environment under the administration of that lead agency.