Focusing on forest policy and urban climate politics in Brazil and Indonesia, the primary objective of this chapter is to identify domestic pioneers and leaders who, compared to other sectors, governmental levels or jurisdictions within the same nation-state, move ‘ahead of the troops’ (Liefferink and Wurzel, 2017: 2-3). The chapter focuses especially on the role of multilevel governance in bringing about pioneership and leadership and on the different types of that have emerged. It also explores whether and, if so, to what extent domestic pioneers and leaders attract followers and whether there are signs of sustained domestic leadership. The chapter identifies the actors that constitute pioneers and leaders and assesses the processes which lead to their emergence. The chapter authors take up Wurzel et al.’s (2019) call to open up the black box of the nation-state. But instead of stressing the role of non-state actors, the chapter authors focus on vertical interactions among different governmental levels within nation states. The main argument put forward is that international and transnational processes, incentives, and ideas often trigger the development of domestic pioneership and leadership. Such processes, however, cannot be understood properly if domestic politics and dynamics across governmental levels within the nation-state are not taken into account.