ELP Policy Initiative

Wind Turbines near Des Moines, Iowa. (em_deboer22)

Our Mission

The Harvard Law School Environmental Policy Initiative applies rigorous legal analysis and creative problem-solving to 21st century environmental challenges.

Our Vision

Making environmental and energy law more effective through governance design and strategic partnerships.

What is Governance Design?

Governance design is the art of making ideas work.  A law is just words on paper if it doesn’t achieve its stated goals or change with the times.  We consider how a law operates in the “real world” – considering resource constraints, political trends, competing interests, and institutional inertia – and propose ways to succeed within that context.

A Robust Legal Foundation, Strengthened by Strategic Partnerships

Environmental issues arise from the complex relationship between humans and the natural world.  Environmental problems and their causes may be defined by resource limitations, poor health, poverty, market failures, or legal disincentives.  To find innovative, long-lasting solutions to these problems, then, we need a multi-disciplinary approach.  While we always begin our analysis from a legal perspective, we partner with natural science, economics, public health, psychology, and technical experts to ground that analysis and translate our findings to reach and inspire diverse audiences.

Our Approach

We pinpoint the law’s shortcomings and opportunities through “engaged scholarship” –  legal analysis informed by consultations and brainstorming sessions with policy experts and stakeholders.  Then, we offer legal conclusions and targeted policy recommendations.

Decision-makers face competing demands and time constraints.  That’s why we accompany our research with practical products such as training manuals, workshops, legislative and regulatory text, podcasts, and tailored consulting services.

We need strong environmental policies backed by rigorous legal analysis, to mitigate environmental harms in a sensible, cost-effective way.

Learn More, and Get Involved!

Visit us again soon, as we build new pages describing our projects.  Scroll up the side bar and click on “Subscribe to our Mailing List” to receive policy products and invitations to our events. Click here to see our work on shale gas and hydraulic fracturing.  Contact our Policy Director, Kate Konschnik, at kkonschnik@law.harvard.edu to get involved.

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