This paper considers a range of present day and forward looking activities associated with ‘next generation’ environmental compliance and enforcement. It does so, in part, by reflecting and looking ‘back to the future’ to see what lessons have already been learned and what information and holdings already exist that might assist environmental compliance and enforcement professionals into the future. The paper understandably and perhaps unsurprisingly considers aspects that fall under broad groupings of: tools and technology; behavioural and social sciences; and systems and approaches. However, central to the paper is the important but sometimes underused role of environmental enforcement networks and the fact that often the human element of compliance and enforcement practitioners themselves can be overlooked or not fully appreciated. The authors, between them, have in excess of 77 years of experience in undertaking, leading and supporting environmental compliance and enforcement efforts. Their activities, while based in three continents (Europe, North America, and Australasia), have informed global and regional environmental enforcement networks in most parts of the world. The paper does not attempt to frame the discourse on next generation approaches as being ‘better or worse’ or ‘old versus new’. Instead it frames the discussion on where we were as an environmental compliance and enforcement community: in previous generations, where we are now as an environmental compliance and enforcement community: in the current generation; and where we are headed: in the next generation. Simply put we look at changes and approaching changes and what we can learn and take from our past.