Policy & advocacy

ICLEI connects ambitious local and regional governments with leading peers, national  governments, as well as the European Commission and related institutions, the United Nations, business, academia, finance and NGOs. By doing so, they can learn and advance at a quicker pace.

ICLEI represents local and regional governments in European and global policy processes. We work with the European institutions and other networks to influence and shape the debate on urban sustainability policies and legislation and ensure that project financing is formulated to address sustainability challenges, and is accessible to cities, regions and public authorities.

Working with partners to influence change


As an organisation, ICLEI is involved in a number of processes and initiatives with local and regional sustainability governance. Below are key pieces of advocacy work at ICLEI and their broader impacts in the sustainability field.

Those working for a city are often approached to join initiatives or to become signatories of Commitments, Declarations and Messages in the area of sustainable development. You may ask yourself, “why are these important and why should my city participate?”

As a global network of politically strong cities, towns and regions, ICLEI and its Members have the opportunity to shape the debate and profile their cities at a European and international levels.

Learn about how your city can take advantage of these European and global initiatives to support your work locally.

A European Green Deal

2019 - 2050

The European Green Deal encompasses a set of policies, actions and agreements meant to spark transformation in the EU to overcome the challenges posed by climate change and environmental degredation, while also strengthening the economy. The concept harkens back to policies created by U.S. president Roosevelt between 1933 and 1939 to rebuild a weakened economy while fostering social benefits.

The European Green Deal has three main objectives:

  • no net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050
  • economic growth decoupled from resource use
  • no person and no place left behind

In line with these objectives, the European Green Deal aims to provide well-being through the privision of clean air, water and soils, energy efficient building, healthy and affordable food, and reliable public transport.

ICLEI is involved in several initiatives related to Green Deals, including: ACCTING, Fair Local Green Deals, SHARED GREEN DEAL, ALLIANCE, CLIMAA and others.

Want to learn more about joining a network dedicated to understanding and implementing Green Deal policies? Read more here.

Since its founding, ICLEI has been one of Europe's primary advocates for local sustainable development. Through its European Sustainable Cities and Towns conferences and a series of initiatives and documents housed on the European Sustainable Cities Platform, it has mobilised thousands of local governments in Europe and beyond in the name of sustainability. There have been some key milestones on this journey:

Driving the European movement for local sustainable development


The Aalborg Charter

The 1994 Charter marked a turning point for local sustainable development in Europe. Inspired by the Rio Earth Summit’s Local Agenda 21, it was developed by individuals, municipalities, NGOs, national & international organisations, and scientific bodies.

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The Aalborg Commitments

The Aalborg Commitments (10 years after the Aalborg Charter) encompass a list of qualitative objectives organised into 10 holistic themes providing a local level framework for embedding sustainability across municipality sectors.

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The Basque Declaration

The Basque Declaration was the main outcome of the 8th European Sustainable Cities & Towns Conference in 2016. It outlines 15 pathways for socio-economic, cultural and technological transformation for a more liveable, sustainable and inclusive Europe.

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The Mannheim Message

The Mannheim Message was launched at the 9th European Sustainable Cities & Towns Conference in 2020. It outlines five core systemic changes and nine policy shifts needed to bring about transformation for a sustainable Europe.

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Letter and Statements



To connect with ICLEI Europe on advocacy, please contact Goksen Sahin Licha.