The CIFAL Network, which is composed of several associated CIFAL Centres, forms a key part of the work of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)'s Local Development Programme (LDP). This programme provides trainings aimed at implementing international conventions and achieving the UN's Millennium Development Goals.
The acronym CIFAL stands for "International Training Centre for Local Actors" (French: Centre International de Formation des Acteurs Locaux or Spanish: Centro Internacional de Formación para Actores Locales). Each CIFAL Centre is a hub for capacity building and knowledge sharing between local and regional authorities, national governments, international organisations, the private sector, and civil society.
The main objective of these training activities is to enhance local public services for sustainable urbanisation, while developing multi-stakeholders partnerships for locally driven development. CIFAL Core Objectives, taking into account cultural and social disparities, are specifically:
- To formulate and implement appropriate training and capacity building programmes in order to address local and global challenges;
- To build demand driven and multi-stakeholder capacity building programmes;
- To identify and engage new partners on a short and long term basis that will enhance the overall mission of the CIFAL Network;
- To pave the way for local authorities to access public and private resources to implement efficient basic services for participants.
The first CIFAL Centre was inaugurated in 2000. Two years later, at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg the DCP launched a new partnership initiative called: "Reinforcement of Local Capacities and Training for Sustainable Urbanization: a Public-Private Partnership" which set out the framework for future centres. Among the partners that jointly developed and presented this initiative were UN-HABITAT, the World Association of Cities and Local Authorities Coordination, the Global Ecovillage Network, and Veolia Environment.
In 2003, three further CIFAL Centres were launched. There are currently (2012) nine such centres worldwide in Atlanta (USA), Curitiba (Brazil), Findhorn (Scotland), Durban (South Africa), Jeju (Korea), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), Płock (Poland), and Shanghai (China).
Complementing the training services is the CIFALWEB, an online tool and community that was created for knowledge sharing and project follow-up. This is an electronic platform which aims to support the partners in decision-making and the exchange of best practices.
- GEN-Europe News. (Spring 2006) Ecovillages Build Bridges with Local Authorities. Denmark. Gaia Trust.
- Rollo, S. (23.9.06) Deal Signed to Create UN HUB at Scots ecovillage. Aberdeen. Press & Journal newspaper.
- UN-DCP. (2005) Capacity building for local authorities to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Geneva. UNITAR.
- US Mayor Newspaper, June 27, 2005, Offerings of CIFAL Atlanta. Vol 72 Issue 11. Washington