ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability
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General FAQs
What is ICLEI?
ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability is an international association of local and metropolitan governments dedicated to sustainable development.

ICLEI provides technical consulting, training, and information services to build capacity, share knowledge, and support local government in the implementation of sustainable development at the local level. Our basic premise is that locally designed and driven initiatives can provide an effective and cost-efficient way to achieve local, national, and global sustainability objectives. 

Who are ICLEI’s members?
ICLEI is a powerful movement of 12 mega-cities, 100 super-cities, 450 large cities and urban regions as well as 650 small and medium-sized cities and towns in 80 countries.

Why do local governments join ICLEI?
ICLEI’s diverse local government members share a broad desire to make their communities better places to live by making them greener, more efficient, healthier places and by taking action against climate change—because its impacts will be felt most tangibly at the local level.

ICLEI’s mission is to support these efforts. By accessing our resources, planning processes, and technical guidance, local governments can achieve results faster and overcome financial constraints.

What do local governments receive as ICLEI members?
The option to participation in sustainability projects and campaigns that support their local goals and needs
  • Access to software and technical tools
  • Technical assistance from ICLEI’s expert staff
  • Trainings and events
  • Peer networks to share and learn from other local governments
  • Guidebooks, case studies and templates
  • Recognition and leadership opportunities
  • Funding updates and policy analyses

Opportunities to affect national and international policy

What do local governments accomplish with support from ICLEI?
Save money, reduce energy use and waste, increase access to fresh water or decrease wastage of clean water, and lower greenhouse gas emissions to address climate change, among many other accomplishments.
  • Measure energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, climate resiliency and sustainability performance
  • Set achievable goals and develop sustainability plans and local climate action plans
  • Create more sustainable, economically prosperous, and healthy communities that are fit for the future and can serve the next generation just as they serve the current one


What are the requirements of ICLEI membership?
The only requirements are the payment of modest annual dues based on population size in accordance with the country GNI per capita. ICLEI also encourages its members to make a self-defined commitment to its citizens to address climate change and sustainability.

What does “ICLEI” mean?
ICLEI originally stood for the “International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives,” but in 2003 the organization dropped the full phrase and became “ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability” to reflect a broader focus on sustainability, not just environmental initiatives.

When was ICLEI founded?
ICLEI was founded by local governments. In 1990, the organization was established when more than 200 local governments from 43 countries convened at the World Congress of Local Governments for a Sustainable Future in New York.

How is the organization structured?
ICLEI is an international organization with 14 offices serving over 80 countries. The ICLEI World Secretariat is located in Bonn, Germany. The World Secretariat ensures that the organization can benefit from cooperation and partnerships globally and makes the voice of local governments heard in the international arena. The 14 offices ensure that local governments are served in their region according to their needs. ICLEI programs and projects vary considerably by region, based on the expressed needs of local governments.

Where is ICLEI headquartered?
ICLEI’s World Secretariat is based in Bonn, Germany.  The 14 regional and country offices are listed here.

Is ICLEI a United Nations organization?
No. ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability is not a UN organization or body. We are a non-profit membership organization.
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