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Who We Are

ICLEI is the first and largest global network of local governments devoted to solving the world’s most intractable sustainability challenges. Our standards, tools, and programs credibly, transparently, and robustly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve lives and livelihoods and protect natural resources in the communities we serve. 

Our Mission

To build and serve a nationwide alliance of local governments, participating in the ICLEI worldwide association, to achieve measurable progress towards more economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable forms of development and management.

Our Legacy

If you’re a local government practitioner or consultant working on local climate action and sustainability or an elected official known as a champion of this cause, chances are your efforts are based on an approach pioneered by ICLEI and its local government network members.

Our Approach

The Five Pathways

We designed the ICLEI pathways to create systemic change. The pathways are a framework for designing integrated solutions that balance the patterns of human life and the built and natural environments.

Our History

Local Government Officials Gather at the United Nations

They brought with them the resolve that, regardless of what goes on in world geopolitics, local governments are ready to collaborate and share solutions to create a fair, sustainable future for their cities and regions. They would not wait for nations to act in order to protect an environment that underpins the economy and quality of life in their hometowns.

September 5, 1990

ICLEI Charter Signed and Ratified

The Charter for this new group, co-developed by Jeb Brugmann and Nancy Skinner, was signed and ratified.

That initial convening came to be called the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, or ICLEI, and proceeded to cement an official role with the United Nations that continues to this day.

September 8, 1990

Established the Green City Index

ICLEI teamed up with U.S. Green Building Council and Center for American Progress to establish a Green City Index — which came to be known as the STAR Communities Program.


Developed the Local Government Operations and Community GHG Inventory protocols



2010 and 2012

Released the ClearPath Tool

A cloud-based, update to CACP that continues as the leading software for local governments.


Developed the Global Protocol for Community Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventories


Adopted the 5 Pathways

Through these pathways, the ICLEI network transforms individual communities and collectively drives sustainable urban development worldwide.


ICLEI Builds and Serves the Local Government Sustainability Movement

ICLEI  has grown to more than 1,750 local and regional governments of all sizes working in more than 100 countries on nearly 200 active sustainability projects. Those working to advance the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals will appreciate that an ICLEI project exists that addresses every SDG.



Our History Continued

ICLEI has actively contributed to global sustainable development as part of the Local Authorities Major Group (LAMG) – one of nine Major Groups formed at the 1992 Earth Summit under Agenda 21 to facilitate local government stakeholder participation in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention to Combat Desertification.

ICLEI tracks and engages in outcomes of the 2012 Rio+20 process, where nations agreed to develop the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), create an intergovernmental process on sustainable development financing and establish a High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.

Toronto was the site of ICLEI’s first World Secretariat, which later moved to Bonn Germany to be near the UN offices for climate change and desertification. Global agreements among nations like those negotiated at the UN seem far-removed from the day-to-day business of governing at the local level.  ICLEI translates global frameworks to ensure the needs of people, nature, and economies in local communities are considered and context-relevant resulting in sustainable communities that support the needs of local communities

ICLEI Global

ICLEI–Local Governments for Sustainability USA is a US nonprofit corporation responsible for meeting its own financial and legal requirements.  ICLEI USA is the largest of ICLEI’s country offices and was incorporated in 1991.

ICLEI  is the leading global network of more than 1,750 local and regional governments committed to sustainable urban development. Active in more than 100 countries, we support local governments to deliver their self-determined sustainability policy and drive local action for low-emission, nature-based, equitable, resilient and circular development. Our members and team of experts work together through peer exchange, partnerships, and capacity building to create systemic change for urban sustainability.