the common ground on which we stand




Frequently Asked Questions

Take a look at our frequently asked questions.
This should explain much of what we do and how we do it.


What does ICLEI do?
How does the organization work?
How is the organization structured? etc.


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.

What does ICLEI do?
We promote local action for global sustainability and supports cities to become sustainable, resilient, resource-efficient, biodiverse, low-carbon; to build a smart infrastructure; and to develop an inclusive, green urban economy with the ultimate aim to achieve healthy and happy communities.
Click here to learn more

Who are ICLEI’s members?
ICLEI members are a powerful movement of 12 mega-cities, 100 super-cities and urban regions, 450 large cities, 450 small and medium-sized cities and towns in 84 countries dedicated to sustainable development.
Click here for a list of members

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 13 offices serving 84 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 13 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.

ICLEI Membership

What are the benefits of membership?
What are the requirements of ICLEI membership?
How to join?


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 such as:

  • 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.

How to join?
Download the Membership Application Form

ICLEI and its international role

What is ICLEI's relationship with the UN?
What is ICLEI's international role?


Key Points

  • ICLEI is a non-profit organization that helps local governments meet their self-defined sustainability, climate, and energy goals.
  • ICLEI’s tools, resources, and services help local governments save money, energy, and natural resources; create more livable communities; and address issues such as climate change.
  • All ICLEI programs are voluntary, and often designed in collaboration with local goverments.
  • ICLEI does not seek to impose or mandate upon local governments any policies or initiatives, such as United Nations Agenda 21 - nor does ICLEI have any authority to do so.
  • ICLEI is an independent non-profit, and not part of the United Nations.

What is Agenda 21, and how is ICLEI involved?
Agenda 21 is a sustainability action plan of the United Nations—not ICLEI—that came out of the U.N. “Earth Summit” in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. At the Summit, governmental leaders around the world agreed on the need to become more sustainable—to meet today’s needs without sacrificing our future. Agenda 21 presents a vision for how all levels of government can take voluntary action to improve sustainability and quality of life for people, addressing issues such as pollution, resource conservation, and poverty.

In many parts of the world, local governments have enthusiastically supported the principles of Agenda 21 and worked to define their own sustainability; ICLEI has helped connect these local governments to related programs and activities, if they wish to do so.

What are the requirements of ICLEI membership?
The only requirements of ICLEI membership are a self-defined commitment to sustainability and climate protection, and the payment of annual membership dues based on population size and country Gross national income (GNI) per capita.


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