Maryke van Staden

Director of carbonn Climate Center


ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability

Organization Type

Non-governmental Organization

ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) is a global network of more than 2500 local and regional governments committed to sustainable urban development. Active in 125+ countries, we influence sustainability policy and drive local action for low emission, nature-based, equitable, resilient and circular development.

ICLEI was founded in 1990 by 200 local governments from 43 countries who convened for the first World Congress of Local Governments for a Sustainable Future at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

Today, ICLEI engages with all levels of government and represents the subnational level in global fora addressing topics like climate, biodiversity and urbanization. We support shaping policy and sparking action to transform urban environments worldwide, also addressing access to finance to accelerate local implementation of sustainable development. By linking subnational, national and global actors, we help scale up enabling policies, ambitious commitments and thematic initiatives, ICLEI strengthens action at all levels, in support of sustainable urban development, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement, among others.

ICLEI drives change along five interconnected pathways that cut across sectors and jurisdictional boundaries:

  1. Low emission development
  2. Nature-based development
  3. Circular development
  4. Resilient development
  5. Equitable and people-centered development

This design enables local and regional governments to develop solutions in a holistic and integrated way, creating change across entire urban systems. These pathways are part of the ICLEI Malmö Commitment and Strategic Vision 2021-2027, which guides the work of the ICLEI network. You can read more about the ICLEI Malmö Commitment and Strategic Vision in ICLEI in the Urban Era.

Through the Transformative Actions Program (TAP), launched in 2015, ICLEI commits to accelerate local climate investment, supporting priority projects of local and regional governments all over the world. These seek project preparation support and access to finance/investment. The proposed local infrastructure projects need to step up climate action towards net-zero, address climate resilience, and the SDGs.

Led by ICLEI, the TAP has 15 partners committed to catalyze and improve capital flows to cities, towns, and regions through strengthening their capacity to access climate finance and attract investment. These include banks and NGOs.

Since the first TAP call in 2015 at least 28 projects have been successfully financed and implemented. More than 80 have been connected to financial institutions and partners, receiving support and global attention. Hundreds of projects have already been screened. Today, 71 are in the TAP pipeline with an estimated investment volume of 2.6 billion EUR.

Projects are submitted through annual calls. These are screened by a team of experts at the ICLEI World Secretariat. Depending on their quality and transformative potential, the projects are accepted into the TAP project pipeline. Then project submitters can access “TAP Services”. Support includes assistance to develop more robust bankable concepts and training on how to “pitch” these to potential investors.

ICLEI and the TAP partners also work on the enabling framework, providing useful tools and guidance, for example on how to increase the maturity of the proposed concepts. Projects in the TAP pipeline gain visibility, and are connected to project preparation facilities and/or financial institutions.

Alliance members are invited to:

  • become a TAP partner – do you offer project preparation support, capacity building opportunities, access to finance and investment?;
  • help local governments define their finance and investment needs, by mobilizing their reporting to the CDP-ICLEI Unified Reporting System;
  • support our advocacy messaging that calls for vertically integrated NDC implementation and investment plans;
  • subscribe to the TAP mailing list to receive news;
  • visit the TAP and ICLEI websites, and explore synergies with us
  • ICLEI has an Innovative Finance portfolio, with a mayor as our global political representative, leading this discourse within ICLEI and with our partners.
  • We have a regular exchange with the ICLEI network of subnational governments and TAP applicants to understand their needs and challenges in developing bankable projects and accessing finance.
  • Through the CDP-ICLEI Unified Reporting System we collect data from local and regional governments, including how local action is financed and what investment needs exist.
  • Through ICLEI’s global advocacy work we inform UN processes and national governments, e.g. through the UNFCCC Standing Committee on Finance. This is done through ICLEI’s role as Local Government and Municipal Authorities (LGMA) focal point, and in its capacity as a UNFCCC observer.
  • We organize and participate in international, regional and national events (e.g. Daring Cities, World Congress), which serve as platforms to share and learn among peers and friends.
  • ICLEI is an active member of global initiatives such as the Alliance and the Global Covenant of Mayors (GCoM) – chairing the GCoM Finance Technical Working Group.
  1. As a founding partner of the Alliance, and a member of its Steering Committee, we benefit from direct exchanges with the active members.
  2. Networking, building partnership, and co-defining collaboration between members and initiatives.
  3. Increased visibility for the work we do.
  4. Joint advocacy messages within and beyond the CCFLA, also in partnership with the LGMA constituency (where ICLEI is the focal point).

ICLEI is a founding member of the Alliance and has engaged by:

  • actively participating in the Steering Committee and most Action Groups
  • developing and contributing to knowledge products
  • organizing global and regional events

We are keen to strengthen our engagement in the advocacy space, and to intensify discussions specifically with the banks and national governments in the Alliance.