The power of professional networks

In 2016, IEEP’s Andrea Illes joined the Emerging Leaders in Environmental and Energy Policy (ELEEP) - a transatlantic network bringing together early and mid-career environmental professionals from North America and Europe to foster collaboration and innovation. Members exchange ideas via online debates, collaborate on projects and meet regularly for study tours. The network is funded by the European Commission and the Allianz Foundation for North America and managed jointly by Ecologic Institute and the Atlantic Council. The network focuses on a different topic each year; the 2016/17 fellows explore climate change adaptation .

Earlier this year ELEEP fellows travelled to Los Angeles to understand California’s practices for coping with droughts, water scarcity and sea level changes. Besides getting an insight into the complex and increasingly politicized US climate governance structure, the fellows visited multiple project sites, for instance the Orange County Water District - an international leader in Groundwater Replenishment Systems, and beach restoration projects which aim to use ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation.

Last year’s study tour took place in London, Brussels and Rotterdam and explored urban climate change adaptation strategies, in particular flood management. The activities included meetings with the UK’s Adaptation Sub-Committee in the Climate Change Committee and visits to the Thames Barrier and the Maeslant Storm Surge Barrier safeguarding London and Rotterdam, respectively. The group also learned about the EU’s Adaptation Strategy and attended a meeting of the Mayors Adapt Network.

Andrea and other ELEEP fellows have launched a podcast highlighting key takeaways from the EU study tour and exploring how EU policy is driving action on the ground and at different governance levels. They are recording another podcast summarising their experience in California and reflecting on governance differences between the US and the EU.

Environmental professional networks, such as the ELEEP, can be a source of inspiration. While the environmental focus draws members together, their interdisciplinary backgrounds encourage diverse approaches to problem solving. This promotes ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking and collaboration, which can lead to innovative solutions to solve environmental problems. ELEEP is open to young professionals working in Europe and North America. You can find more information about the network and the application procedure for next year’s fellowship at www.eleep.eu. You can also contact Andrea Illes for further information.