ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability is the world’s leading network of over 1,000 cities, towns and metropolises committed to building a sustainable future.
By helping our Members to make their cities and regions sustainable, low-carbon, resilient, ecomobile, biodiverse, resource-efficient and productive, healthy and happy, with a green economy and smart infrastructure, we impact over 20% of the world's urban population.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We have built a global sustainability network of more than 1,000 local governments of all sizes in 84 countries.
We work with our Members through a network of 15 offices and global centers on all continents, which hold technical expertise and experience.
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 instigated a movement of about 10,000 local governments that have engaged their citizens in Local Agenda 21; created a network of 1,000+ cities that have undertaken climate action planning and set voluntary targets for greenhouse gas emissions reduction; worked with over 100 local governments on freshwater management; 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