Frequently Asked Questions

About ICLEI >>


What is ICLEI?

ICLEI is the world’s leading network of cities and local governments dedicated to sustainable development. Any city or local government that supports ICLEI’s mission may join the network. Depending on the administrative structure in the respective countries, “local governments” can be municipalities, metropolitan governments, cities, urban communities, administrative committees of new towns and eco-industrial zones, towns, villages, counties, prefectures, etc.


What is ICLEI’s mission?

ICLEI’s mission is “to build and serve a worldwide movement of local governments to achieve tangible improvements in global sustainability with special focus on environmental conditions through cumulative local actions.” With other words, ICLEI works with a large group of cities and local governments to achieve greener urban development as a contribution towards eco-civilization on our planet.

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.


What does ICLEI do?

ICLEI encourages its Member local governments to achieve better environmental and sustainability performance; facilitates exchange of knowledge, experiences and solutions among cities; provides methodologies, technical know-how, best practices and tools; and offers technical advice. We promote local action for global sustainability and support 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 of achieving healthy and happy communities.


Who are ICLEI’s members?

ICLEI is powerful network of 12 mega-cities, 100 super-cities and urban regions, 450 large cities, and 450 small and medium-sized cities and towns in 86 countries dedicated to sustainable development.


What does “ICLEI” mean?

The acronym initially stood for ICLEI’s former name, but in 2003 the organization adopted the name “ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability” to reflect a broader focus on sustainability, not just local environmental initiatives.


Where is ICLEI headquartered?

ICLEI’s World Secretariat is based in Bonn, Germany.


How is the organization structured?

ICLEI is a global association with 17 offices serving ICLEI Member cities in 86 countries. The ICLEI World Secretariat is located in Bonn, Germany. The World Secretariat leads the organization, coordinates the work across all regions and maintains partnerships with international organizations. ICLEI’s regional secretariats and country offices are located in various countries, namely Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Philippines, South Africa, South Korea, and USA.


How is ICLEI funded?

ICLEI’s funding base is manifold and reflects the fact that ICLEI is a project-based organization. ICLEI’s Members are required to pay annual membership dues according to a dues schedule. The total annual membership dues of the global association present no more than 8-10% of the total budget. Some ICLEI offices are supported by host cities that provide office space and/or make a financial contribution to support the office operations.

Beyond membership dues and host contributions, ICLEI raises project funds from a variety of sources such as local governments, governments, European Commission, multilateral banks, foundations, etc. ICLEI also provides technical services against fees to deliver training, organize events, do research work, write studies, produce case studies etc. 

About ICLEI in China >>


Is there an ICLEI office in China?

Not yet. ICLEI seeks to mobilize funds in order to establish a Representation Office in Beijing. As a second step, ICLEI wishes to establish a legally registered China Office. ICLEI is open to establish provincial and project offices hosted by provincial or city governments across China.


What has ICLEI done in China so far?

Over the past few years, ICLEI has been engaging with Chinese research institutes, sustainability forums and eco-city projects to provide input of expertise and knowledge and also to learn about the trends and experiences of Chinese cities in urban sustainability.

To open up new opportunities to deepen our work with Chinese cities, ICLEI has made contributions to a number of important forums including Eco-Forum Global 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 in Guiyang, Guizhou Province; 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th China (Tianjin Binhai) International Eco-City Forum & Expo 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014; Conference on Urban Development and Planning organized by the Chinese Society for Urban Studies (CSUS), 2013 and 2014; and China International Forum on Sustainable Urban Development held by the China Center for Urban Development (CCUD) 2014.

In 2014, ICLEI organized two international events in Beijing, “Energy-safe Cities Program Expert Symposium” and “EcoProcura China: International Symposium on Green Municipal Procurement” to explore ways to support Chinese cities toward urban sustainability. Baoding, Yixing and Zhenjiang attended the Energy-safe Cities Symposium while Tianjin, Yixing and Jiangsu Province took part in EcoProcura China.


Who are the Chinese partners of ICLEI?

Our key partners include, among others, Chinese Business Council for Sustainable Development (CBCSD), China Environmental United Certification Center Co. Ltd (CEC), Chinese Society for Urban Studies (CSUS), Climate Group Greater China, College of Architecture and Urban Planning of Tongji University, Eco-Forum Global, Global Forum on Human Settlements, Institute for Urban & Environmental Studies (IUES) of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city (SSTEC), World Resources Institute Beijing office, and WWF China.


How can Chinese cities join ICLEI?

ICLEI is offering Chinese cities two options for becoming part of the global network.
Option 1: Formal membership ) In order to obtain formal membership in the global association, a Chinese local government or administrative committee of a new town or eco-industrial zone must submit a membership application form and, upon admission by ICLEI, pay the first annual membership dues in order for the membership to become effective. 

Option 2: Participation) Alternatively, Chinese local governments can chose to join the global network by subscribing to the “participation” option. Obtaining participation requires a written “request for participation” by the Chinese city. A three-year “participation package” will be agreed and procured by the city. The city will pay an annual fee for the services and opportunities provided by ICLEI. This is formally the procurement of a service, not an act of joining an organization and will thus require lesser administrative effort. A participating city will not take part in ICLEI’s organizational governance.


What are the benefits of ICLEI Membership?


  • Being part of the world's largest global cities network that connect more than 1,000 Member cities and local governments committed to sustainable development; 
  • Access to diverse publications and technical tools ICLEI published to help Members with their work; 
  • Chinese version of the e-Newsletter produced by ICLEI’s East Asia Secretariat; 
  • Global recognition of the city’s outstanding work through case studies that ICLEI prepares and publishes; 
  • Invitation to participate and present at the triennial ICLEI World Congresses; 
  • Invitation to participate in ICLEI East Asia regional conferences; 
  • Opportunity to join Mayors’ Summits and Local Government sessions organized by ICLEI alongside relevant United Nations meetings; 
  • Participation in ICLEI East Asia’s “Talk4Action” networking platform; 
  • Invitation to EcoMobility World Congress; 
  • Opportunities to give presentations on the city’s projects and achievements at international conferences and events; and
  • Participation in various technical support programs


What is the Membership fee?

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