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 (UN), 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.

EU R&I Task Force for Climate Neutral and Resilient Historic Urban Districts


The mission of the EU R&I Task Force for Climate Neutral and Resilient Historic Urban Districts is to co-ordinate EU efforts to make historic and contemporary urban districts climate neutral and strengthen their resilience to the effects of climate change and natural hazards as well as the resilience of the communities depending on those areas.

The Task Force was established by the Horizon 2020 projects ARCH, HYPERION, and SHELTER in response to and support of the Horizon 2020 ‘Heritage Alive’ orientation to “[increase] resilience and sustainable reconstruction of historic areas to cope with climate change and hazard events,” following in the footsteps of earlier projects like STORM and HERACLES. Through its involvement in the ARCH project, ICLEI Europe is also a member of this Task Force.

Bringing together actors from practice, research, and policy, the task force aims to provide support to European authorities and decision makers for developing common evidence-based policies, strategies, and procedures. To achieve this goal, the task force focuses on three thematic areas:

  • Developing resilience strategies for historic urban districts
  • Developing harmonized approaches for assessing and monitoring risk and resilience
  • Developing equitable solutions for and with communities

The technical core of the task force is made up of partners from European research projects in the fields of heritage management, climate change mitigation/adaptation, disaster risk management/resilience as well as urban planning and regeneration.

In addition, practitioners, decision makers and policy actors on European, national, and local level in those fields participate in the task force to discuss solutions offered by the technical partners and ensure their applicability.

Since its founding, ICLEI has been one of Europe's primary advocates for local sustainable development. ICLEI strives to localise the European Green Deal by working with local governments to co-create Local Green Deals (LGDs). As well through its European Sustainable Cities and Towns conferences and its series of initiatives and documents, ICLEI 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 to localise the 17 SDGs 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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To connect with ICLEI Europe on advocacy, please contact Goksen Sahin Licha.