The 18-month ICITE project culminated with a conference in Brussels from 30 May to 1 June 2012. The conference included 16 Emerging Leaders in Environmental and Energy Policy (ELEEP) Network members and several participants from the previous ICITE study tours. Conference participants from the US and the EU included several elected officials from the US, as well as representatives from industry, think tanks and academia. Ecologic Institute and the Atlantic Council of the United States conceived of and organized both the ICITE tours and the ELEEP network.
Over 30 people attended the conference, which focused on the transatlantic exchange of policy lessons and best practices from both the study tours and the daily work of the participants. In addition to the panels focusing on lessons learned from the three study tours (1. transformation of land use, agriculture and forestry, and bioenergy; 2. sustainable transformation of industrial regions; 3. and transformation of the energy economy, one session looked at the potential for institutional change in the respective eras of austerity and extreme political discord (especially in the US).
The conference also included three site visits. On 30 May, the group traveled to NATO to discuss the role of energy security in the organization's planning and to learn about the green features of its new headquarters. On Thursday, participants traveled to Eeklo, Belgium to visit with Ecopower cvba. Jan De Pauw of Ecopower explained the history and institutional make up of the organization, which is an electrical cooperative for the build-out of renewable energy in Belgium. The visit to Ecopower included a look at a biodiesel generator, producing both heat and electricity for the cooperative's facilities, as well as a visit to one of Ecopower's newest windmills. On 1 June, Kim Vanguers, Secretariat of the Renewable Energy House, spoke with the group about the House and its constituent associations and also provided a tour of the House itself, which is 100% powered and heated by renewable energy.
The morning of 1 June, 9 "ELEEP Talks" were given based on the TED concept which gives participants an opportunity to discuss their work with their fellow ELEEP members in a concise, conversational tone. R. Andreas Kraemer, Director of Ecologic Institute, gave a culminating address on the importance of the transatlantic exchange of information and best practices to environmental protection and policy learning.
In addition to concluding the European Union-funded ICITE project, the summit also launched the next phase of the ELEEP network. The Robert Bosch Stiftung awarded funding for the ELEEP Network, which will enable two additional transatlantic study tours in 2012, as well as regional and local initiatives instigated and organized by ELEEP members.