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.

UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration

2021 - 2030

As biodiversity rapidly decreases, ecosystem restoration is becoming an ever increasing priority. This is why the United Nations has launched the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, and is calling on everyone to join #GenerationRestoration. This campaign aims to prevent, halt and reverse ecosystem degradation globally, both on land and in oceans, in order to combat poverty, climate change and prevent mass extinction. ICLEI is proud to be an official global partner of the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.

ICLEI Members and projects are striving towards establishing initiatives to promote biodiversity, and benefit communities. One such project, NetworkNature, facilitates and amplifies nature-based solutions (NbS) that create both ecological benefits by maintaining biodiversity, as well as provide benefits for human well-being. In the fall of 2021, NetworkNature hosted a semester theme related to Ecosystem restoration which fathered latest findings and best practices from leading experts.

Learn more about the UN Decade on Ecosystem restoration here. Learn more about the semester on Ecosystem Restoration here.

Driving the European movement for local sustainable development


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:

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.

Find out more

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.

Find out more

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.

Find out more

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.

Find out more