By 2050, two-thirds of all humans
          will be living in cities


Who we are

ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability is the leading global network of more than 1,500 cities, towns and regions committed to building a sustainable future.

By helping the ICLEI Network to become sustainable, low-carbon, resilient, ecomobile, biodiverse, resource-efficient and productive, healthy and happy, with a green economy and smart infrastructure, we impact over 25% of the global urban population.


What we do

Connecting leaders 


ICLEI is a growing Association of cities, local and metropolitan governments leading the way in sustainable development with worldwide presence, which connects leaders in strategic alliances, which prepares cities for the future, whose voice is heard, and which is attractive to be a member of, work for and partner with. 

Get to know how we work


Accelerating action 


ICLEI is a high-energy, flexible Movement of local governments working together in national, regional and international networks; engaging in global campaigns for sustainability, participating in performance-based programs, advancing through an international exchange of experiences and solutions – a movement which is supported by commitment processes, performance frameworks, programs, networks, strategic alliances and centers of excellence. 

Find out about our agendas


Gateway to solutions 


ICLEI is an effective sustainability and environmental Agency strengthening the capacity of local governments and their networks to identify and implement  radical solutions and act rapidly; providing advanced knowledge and delivering training to local leaders, planners and decision makers; demonstrating  creativity and excellence in developing innovative methods and tools; serving as the cities gateway to solutions for the future. 

Engage in our activities


Our development

ICLEI started with the idea that a single municipality has a significant impact.

ICLEI was conceived in 1989 when local government leaders met with a leading atmospheric scientist to discuss the depletion of the ozone layer. They pledged to establish local laws to phase out ozone-depleting chemicals and imagined an organization that could coordinate local government responses to global environmental problems.

ICLEI was then founded in 1990 by 200 local governments from 43 countries who convened for the first World Congress of Local Governments for a Sustainable Future at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Operations began in 1991 at the World Secretariat in Toronto, Canada, and the European Secretariat in Freiburg, Germany. The World Secretariat has since moved to Bonn, Germany.

Our first global programs promoted participatory governance and local sustainable development planning. The Cities for Climate Protection (CCP) Campaign was the first and largest program in the world designed to support cities in climate action planning using a five-milestone process that reduced greenhouse gas emissions, improved air quality and enhanced urban livability and sustainability.

ICLEI’s programs and campaigns look beyond mere environmental aspects and embrace wider sustainability issues. In 2003, the ICLEI Council acknowledged this by formally broadening our mandate and adopting the name ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability.

Our impacts

Over the last 25 years, we have achieved results that the planet notices.

  • We have built a global sustainability network of more than 1,500 local and regions governments of all sizes in more than 100 countries.
  • We work local and regional governments through a network of 17 offices and global centers on all continents.
  • We have developed common methodologies and created innovative tools which are applied throughout the local government community worldwide.
  • We have provided leadership in linking local governments to global policy processes and multilateral environmental agreements.
  • We have created a global network of cities, towns and regions that have undertaken climate action planning and set voluntary targets for greenhouse gas emissions reduction.
  • We have supported dozens of municipalities in the use of innovative sustainability management systems; and engaged dozens of global cities in biodiversity management.
  • More than 50,000 local government officials have benefited from over 1,000 capacity building events organized by ICLEI.



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