UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


IIPP hosts the ‘Rethinking the State’ Forum

27 June 2024

Highlighting the need for transformative public policy in the era of climate emergency, this year’s ‘Rethinking the State’ Forum offered a platform for academics and policymakers to discuss new tools and policies to avoid catastrophic climate breakdown.


On 12,13 June 2024 the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP) welcomed over 300 policymakers, academics, subject matter experts, students and members of the general public to London for a 1.5 day public forum ‘Rethinking the State- Driving Transformative Public policy in an era of climate emergency’; with a further 2000 people registered to attend online. 

Held at the Wellcome Collection London, alongside an evening event at the Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre at University College London (UCL), the forum examined the need to rethink the role of the state and promote dynamic public sector capacities and capabilities in the face of the climate crisis.  The forum did this through the lenses of public finance, industrial strategy, design and digital public infrastructure.  

‘Rethinking the State’ was designed in keeping with in the IIPP spirit of practice- based theorising; where academic theories and research are tested and discussed in real world contexts. The forum therefore consisted of a series of dialogues between academics and expert policymakers to this end.  

Catch-up on the ‘Rethinking the State’ sessions below: 

Flagship evening event Rethinking the State: New economic thinking for a new industrial strategy

Industrial strategy is back around the world; however, it risks reverting to old models focused on promoting specific sectors and technologies, guided by outdated economic assumptions that limit the role of the state. It is often also being advanced without a global equity or global climate action lens. IIPP’s new Strategic Economics Alliance (SEA), spearheaded by Professor Mariana Mazzucato and Dr Carolina Alves, aims to strengthen new economic thinking and its influence on economic policy, including in the area of green industrial strategy. 

Read about the session here

Rewatch the sessions here

Rethinking the State: Public Sector capacities for transformative public policies

Governments globally are (re-)turning to diverse industrial policy instruments to fight multiple crises and tackle long-term societal challenges such as the climate emergency. As the industrial strategy is being updated to fit the needs of 21st-century challenges and political realities, this session will investigate whether governments – and researchers – are updating the way to create capable agencies, effective coordination mechanisms and proper evaluation tools for new industrial policy mixes. 

Read about the session here

Rewatch the sessions here

Rethinking the State: Financing the ecological transition

This session critically examines the dominant policy narrative in which the private sector dictates the pace and direction of the green transition and considered alternative macrofinancial arrangements, including global reforms, that could more effectively steer economies towards sustainable well-being. 

Read about the session here

Rewatch the sessions here

Designing transformation

The turn of the century saw design move from the engine room of industry, and core aspects of public service delivery, into the forefront of industrial transformation, ultimately helping drive the success of the tech sector. Over the last decade, its practices and culture have moved into government transformation, helping refine public services. Yet as our shared challenges multiply, diversify and intensify, design must move upstream. Design’s true value is not in simply refining existing services, but in fundamentally reimagining systems. This session discusses how to unlock the potential of design for systemic transformation.

Read about the session here

Rewatch the sessions here

Rethinking the State: Public sector capabilities for net zero missions

Across the OECD alone, more than 80 'net-zero missions' have been adopted across 20 countries that target large reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Using the ongoing development at IIPP of a Public Sector Capability Index as a frame and bringing to the forefront this wealth of experience of driving these net zero missions, the IIPP Forum 2024 presented an interactive session focused on fostering knowledge exchange and peer-learning among policymakers and practitioners, dealing with similar challenges in strengthening their organisational capabilities for the green transition. 

Read about the session here

Rewatch the sessions here

Watch Ireland case exploration

Watch Denmark case exploration

Watch Netherlands case exploration

Watch France case exploration

Rethinking the State: Building State capacity in the digital age

The digital era has brought about significant changes in how societies operate, and the expectations placed upon governments to deliver services, policies, and goods effectively and at scale. Paper-based, siloed government infrastructure and associated practices are no longer effective in the 21st century. Moving towards digital-era government implies rethinking how governments operate and what public infrastructure means.

Read about the session here

Rewatch the session here