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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)
Website www.iclei.org

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

The international 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[edit]

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.

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[edit]

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]


Ecomobility is a term used to describe travel through integrated, socially inclusive, and environmentally friendly transport options, including and integrating walking, cycling, public transport and other climate and people friendly innovative modes of transport. By enabling citizens and organizations to access goods, services, and information in a sustainable manner, ecomobility supports citizens' quality of life, increases travel choices, and promotes social cohesion.

It is neither a new kind of transportation nor is it a collective word to indicate heterogeneous transport. Ecomobility indicates a new approach to mobility that highlights the importance of public and non-motorized transport and promotes an integrated use of all modes in a city. Environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive, ecological mobile transport choices have low to no emission compared to the personal automobiles powered by fossil fuels. It supports the use of light electric vehicles, provided that the source of the electricity is from renewable energy sources. Incorporating Ecomobility into the development of traffic systems and policies will benefit local governments in attaining international recognition for the city and its leadership.

ICLEI has a dedicated agenda to promote ecomobility in cities titled the EcoMobile City (sustainable urban transport) Agenda. Under this agenda ICLEI executes the following 3 key projects:

  1. EcoMobility Alliance
  2. EcoMobility World Festival
  3. EcoMobility World Congress

EcoMobility Alliance was created in October 2011 in Changwon, Korea. It is a transformation of the earlier Global Alliance for EcoMobility, which is a non-governmental organization founded and launched in Bali on 10 December 2007, on the occasion of the 2007 United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC-COP-13).[16][17] ICLEI legally represents and hosts the Secretariat of the EcoMobility Alliance. The Secretariat office is located 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. The EcoMobility Alliance is chaired by a visionary city leader.

Ecomobility Alliance Chairs [as of December 2016]:

  • 2012-2015 City of Changwon, Republic of Korea
  • 2016-2017 City of Kaohsiung, Chinese Taipei

EcoMobility World Festival, is a month long experiment taken up by challenging and visionary city leaders to display an automobile free lifestyle in a neighborhood of a city. Citizens in this neighborhood will show the world that a normal life can be lead without depending on personal automobiles. Citizens will embrace the improved walking, cycling and public transport facilities and use light electric vehicles, to replace the otherwise motorized trips in the neighborhood.

EcoMobility World Festivals so far [as of December 2016]:

  • EcoMobility World Festival 2013, Suwon, Republic of Korea
  • EcoMobility World Festival 2015, Johannesburg, South Africa [First month long event in Africa to Decongest a central business district (CBD), Sandton]
  • EcoMobility World Festival 2017, Kaohsiung, Chinese Taipei

EcoMobility World Congress, provides with a fresh, visionary and enriching perspectives on sustainable urban mobility. The congresses aim to provide comprehensive international knowledge in the field of ecomobility. Renowned transportation experts, change makers, decision makers, city leaders and innovators, from around the globe will present some of the world’s best case studies, and participants will learn how to kick start and implement good policies while engaging in fruitful debates about mobility for the future of sustainable cities.

EcoMobility World Congresses so far [as of December 2016]

  • EcoMobility World Congress 2011, Changwon, Republic of Korea
  • EcoMobility World Congress 2013, Suwon, Republic of Korea
  • EcoMobility World Congress 2015, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • EcoMobility World Congress 2017, Kaohsiung, Chinese Taipei

In addition to the projects above, ICLEI's EcoMobile City (Sustainable Urban Transport) Agenda also works on the following areas:

  • Urban transport performance measurement in cities
  • EcoLogistics: is a dedicated initiative of the EcoMobile City (Sustainable Urban Transport) Agenda to support cities to shared experience on urban freight
  • Health and mobility: the agenda also works with cities to highlight the effects of automobile dependence on public health in the forms of sedentary lifestyles, poor air quality and childhood obesity
  • Road safety: Urban mobility is the primary reason for loss of life and permanent disability in many developing cities. Through its work in ecomobility, ICLEI support is cities to prioritise non-motorized transport and public transport and design better and safer cities.

For more information on EcoMobility visit: https://www.ecomobility.org


Tea Party movement activists targeted ICLEI for its support for Agenda 21, a nonbinding United Nations initiative that seeks to promote resource and land conservation. The activists claimed that local government efforts to expand public transportation and preserve open space were part of a UN conspiracy plot "to deny property rights and herd citizens toward cities".[18]

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.[19]


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.


  1. ^ "LOWCAP > ICLEI". www.lowcap.eu.
  2. ^ "Who is ICLEI - ICLEI Global". www.iclei.org.
  3. ^ "ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability .:. Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform". sustainabledevelopment.un.org.
  4. ^ a b c ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability USA Archived 2009-11-02 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA, "Annual Report 2008," 2/1/2009 "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-13. Retrieved 2014-02-21.
  6. ^ ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA, "Measuring Up Annual Report 2009," 12/15/2009 "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-12-17. Retrieved 2014-02-21.
  7. ^ Member List — ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability USA Archived 2012-03-13 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ How to Become a Member — ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability USA Archived 2014-02-26 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability : History Archived 2013-03-04 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ History — ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability USA Archived 2013-10-17 at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ FAQs of ICLEI Archived 2013-06-03 at the Wayback Machine.
  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.
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-02-14. Retrieved 2014-04-22.
  14. ^ "World Mayors Council on Climate Change - World Mayors Council meets in Seoul on 18-20 October". www.worldmayorscouncil.org.
  15. ^ "Our Global and Thematic Centers". Archived from the original on 2015-09-07.
  16. ^ "Global Alliance for EcoMobility launched at UN Climate Conference". 2007-10-12. Archived from the original on 2009-08-15.
  17. ^ http://unterm.un.org/DGAACS/unterm.nsf/8fa942046ff7601c85256983007ca4d8/6062b34433b8dd55852576ce005b536c?OpenDocument[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ >Kaufman, Leslie; Kate Zernike (February 4, 2012). "Activists Fight Green Projects, Seeing U.N. Plot". The New York Times.
  19. ^ Osher, Christopher N. (2010-08-05). "Bike agenda spins cities toward U.N. control, Maes warns". The Denver Post. Retrieved 2013-06-11.

External links[edit]