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ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability
International organization
Industry Sustainable Development at the local level
Founded 1990, New York City, U.S.
Headquarters Kaiser-Friedrich-Str. 7, 53113 Bonn, Germany
Number of employees
approximately 200 (worldwide)
Slogan Local Actions Moves the World
Website www.iclei.org

ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, founded in 1990 as the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, is an international association of local governments and national and regional local government organizations that have made a commitment to sustainable development.

The association was established when more than 200 local governments from 43 countries convened at its inaugural conference, the World Congress of Local Governments for a Sustainable Future, at the United Nations in New York in September 1990.[1] Today, more than 1200 cities, towns, counties, and their associations in 84 countries comprise ICLEI's growing membership.[2] ICLEI works with these and hundreds of other local governments through international performance-based, results-oriented campaigns and programs. It 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. ICLEI's basic premise is that locally designed initiatives can provide an effective and cost-efficient way to achieve local, national, and global sustainability objectives.[3]


ICLEI includes 1,227 local government members worldwide in 70 countries, with more than 600 in the United States.[4] ICLEI USA membership grew by 58% in 2008[5] and by 25% in 2009.[6] U.S. local government members include cities, towns, and counties of all sizes, from New York City and Los Angeles County to Dubuque, Iowa and Arlington, Texas.[7]

The only requirements for ICLEI membership are a self-defined commitment to climate protection and the payment of annual membership dues based on population size.[8]

History and structure

ICLEI was founded in 1990, with its World Secretariat headquartered in Toronto, Canada.[9] The U.S. office opened formally in 1995. ICLEI USA’s Executive Office is based in Washington, D.C. and the World Secretariat is in Bonn, Germany.[10]

ICLEI was founded in 1990 as the “International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives.” But in 2003, ICLEI's local government members voted to revise the organization's mission, charter and name to better reflect the current challenges local governments face, and the broader topic of sustainability. The “International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives” became “ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability,” which remains its official name.[4]


The organization is now officially called 'ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability'. In 2003, ICLEI's Members voted to revise the organization's mission, charter and name to better reflect the current challenges local governments are facing. The International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives became 'ICLEI—Local Governments for Sustainability' with a broader mandate to address sustainability issues, not only environmental issues.[11]

The organization promotes the following programs for local-level adoption and implementation as described on their website.

  • the Rio Conventions:
    • The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change,
    • The UN Convention on Biological Diversity,
    • The UN Convention to Combat Desertification
  • Agenda 21
    • the Habitat Agenda
    • the Millennium Development Goals
    • the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation

ICLEI also provides oversight for the Compact of Mayors, a global coalition of city leaders founded to address climate change at the local level.[12]


Park Won Soon, President of ICLEI since 2015

ICLEI is a democratic organization with each local government Member holding a position on the Council. The Council convenes every three years at an ICLEI World Congress and establishes ICLEI's priorities and direction through the adoption of a six-year Strategic Plan. The most recent ICLEI World Congress was held in Seoul from 8 to 12 April 2015. Members elect 21 representatives to serve on the Executive Committee, which oversees the implementation of the Strategic Plan and ICLEI operations.[13][14]

World Secretariat directors:

  • Park Won Soon - ICLEI President and Mayor, Seoul, Republic of Korea
  • Gino Van Begin - ICLEI Secretary General, Bonn, Germany

ICLEI - Capacity Center

The ICLEI Capacity Center, formerly the International Training Centre, is the training and conference service unit of ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability. Bonn is also home to ICLEI World Secretariat, Capacity Center and Climate Center, and the host of Resilient Cities 2011 and 2012.[15]


ICLEI legally represents and hosts the Secretariat of the EcoMobility Alliance. The Secretariat office is in Bonn, Germany. The EcoMobility Alliance is an international non-profit partnership that works to promote EcoMobility and thus reduce citizens’ dependency on private motorized vehicles worldwide. EcoMobility Alliance is the follow-up of the Global Alliance for EcoMobility, founded by a group of leading global organizations on the occasion of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali in December 2007.[16][17] The EcoMobility Alliance is chaired by the City of Changwon, South Korea.[18] EcoMobility Congress will be held in Suwon, South Korea in 2013.[19]


Some organizations have criticized ICLEI's involvement and support of the U.N. Agenda 21 program.[20] Such criticism argues "the UN sustainability agenda eventually seeks to curtail people’s choices in terms of food, transportation, housing — even family size, as in Communist China."[21] Sustainable policies implemented at the municipal level, such as bike lanes, bike-riding incentives, bicycle sharing programs, and public transportation options, have been targets of such criticism. Notably, Dan Maes, the 2010 Colorado Republican Gubernatorial candidate, leveled a similar argument at Denver during his campaign.[22]


The United States branch is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit membership organization of the international organization of the same name.[4]

In June 2011, Michael Schmitz was appointed as ICLEI USA’s Executive Director.

Programs and processes

ICLEI USA assists local government members via several programs to address climate change and sustainability, including its Climate Mitigation Program, Climate Resilient Communities Program, and Sustainability Program.[23]

A 2009 report found that at least 155 of ICLEI USA’s local government members had set greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, committing to a projected reduction of more than 1.36 billion metric tons of C02e by 2020, the equivalent of taking 25 million passenger cars off the road for 10 years.[23]

ICLEI encourages its local government members to follow a standard Five Milestone process to set and achieve their goals:[24]

  • Milestone One: Establish a baseline (e.g., a greenhouse gas emissions inventory, sustainability assessment, or climate resiliency study) and forecast.
  • Milestone Two: Set goals. (e.g., sustainability goals, greenhouse gas reduction targets)
  • Milestone Three: Develop a plan. (e.g., a climate action plan, climate adaptation or sustainability plan)
  • Milestone Four: Implement the plan’s policies and measures.
  • Milestone Five: Monitor and evaluate progress, and report results.

External links


  1. http://www.lowcap.eu/PartnerProjects/ICLEI.aspx
  2. ICLEI.org
  3. http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/index.php?page=view&nr=902&type=6&menu=1562&template=846
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability USA
  5. ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA, “Annual Report 2008,” 2/1/2009 http://www.icleiusa.org/library/documents/ICLEI-annual-report-08.pdf
  6. ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA, “Measuring Up Annual Report 2009,” 12/15/2009 http://www.icleiusa.org/library/documents/ICLEI%20USA%202009%20Annual%20Report.pdf
  7. Member List — ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability USA
  8. How to Become a Member — ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability USA
  9. ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability : History
  10. History — ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability USA
  11. FAQs of ICLEI
  12. "New alliance on city finance unveiled at UN Summit on climate change | Cities Today - Connecting the world's urban leaders". cities-today.com. Retrieved 2016-01-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. http://www.iclei.org/iclei-global/our-governance/global-executive-committee.html
  14. http://www.worldmayorscouncil.org/press-room/news-detail/article//world-mayors-council-meets-in-seoul-on-18-20-october.html
  15. [1]
  16. http://www.fiafoundation.org/news/archive/2007/Pages/GlobalAllianceforEcoMobilitylaunchedatUNClimateConference.aspx
  17. http://unterm.un.org/DGAACS/unterm.nsf/8fa942046ff7601c85256983007ca4d8/6062b34433b8dd55852576ce005b536c?OpenDocument
  18. Explanation on Ecomobility
  19. The EcoMobility Suwon 2013 Congress
  20. Kaufman, Leslie; Kate Zernike (February 2012). "Activists Fight Green Projects, Seeing U.N. Plot". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-06-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "Agenda 21: How Will It Affect You?". American Opinion Publishing. 2012-09-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Osher, Christopher N. (2010-08-05). "Bike agenda spins cities toward U.N. control, Maes warns". The Denver Post. Retrieved 2013-06-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. 23.0 23.1 ICIEI Local Governments for Sustainability USA
  24. ICLEI’s Five Milestones for Climate Mitigation http://www.icleiusa.org/programs/sustainability/five-milestones-for-sustainability http://www.icleiusa.org/programs/climate/Climate_Adaptation/five-milestones-for-climate-adaptation