APPROACH

Mission

Our goal at LEEP is to develop and support real-time policy experiments, robust networks for learning and exchange, meaningful processes for stakeholder engagement, and durable policy outcomes.

We start from the premise that bottom-up approaches to climate, energy, and environmental problems must be the foundation for any lasting solutions. Much of the hard work and many of the most important policy experiments aimed at tackling these problems are taking place at subnational levels. The challenge is to connect, replicate, scale, and learn from these efforts.

Our theory of change starts from the premise that subnational governments (including states and provinces, counties and districts, cities and municipalities, and communities and villages) are critical actors in the effort to fight climate change, promote clean energy, and build durable frameworks for environmentally sustainable development. We believe that effective solutions to many of our energy and environmental problems must be public-private in character and that, in all cases, they must fit with and grow out of vernacular institutions. To that end, we focus on mobilizing and engaging political leaders, empowering civil servants, and connecting them with civil society partners in a manner that will advance integrated and equitable approaches to sustainable development.

Strategy

We embrace a network approach to governance. We work to thicken the relationships between government, civil society, and the private sector in the regions where we work while also forging broader connections with ongoing policy initiatives and processes around the world. We work across scales, seeking to promote vertical and horizontal policy alignment. And we ground our work with ongoing policy experiments in a recursive approach to learning and knowledge management.

We believe that some of the most important policy experiments are happening in places far removed from national centers of business and government. We want to understand and support these experiments because we believe that they hold important lessons for other similarly situated places. One of our goals is to establish a distributed platform of satellite labs in places that are already innovating – and that are often far removed from the metropolitan centers of political and economic power – and to connect these efforts to other sources of support and financing to reduce the risks of policy experimentation.

We recognize that we live in a world of fast policy – one in which policy ideas are often quickly disembedded from their original contexts and diffused around the world without any critical assessment of their effectiveness. We believe that this can sometimes constrain bottom-up policy innovation by promoting a model of policy adoption and diffusion that does not fit with vernacular institutions. We want to understand better the dynamics of fast policy and we want to harness and tame it in ways that will promote better and more durable policy outcomes in real places.

Activities

LEEP’s major activities can be divided into three categories: (1) real-time policy experimentation; (2) education and exchange; (3) analysis, support, and knowledge management. All of our major projects seek to combine elements of these three activities. And in everything we do, we are committed to the fundamental importance of idea work—creative, outside-the-box thinking that feeds upon and reinforces our work with ongoing policy experiments, opens up new opportunities for education and exchange, and facilitates new approaches to learning.