You are here: Home The Sustainable Cities & Counties Blog Topics ICLEI
Personal tools


What problems do cities face as they move to be more biodiverse?

by Jonathan Coulis Jun 17, 2012

Reposted from the ICLEI World Congress Blog:

Rather than explaining the simple question “why do we want bio-diverse cities” I will write from the perspective that most people understand the basic value, particularly when we are experiencing widespread and drastic lost in global biodiversity.  I do want to stress one aspect to link cities and biodiversity: cities exist in a place, in an environment with its own ecology and natural history. Each city was, and is, an ecosystem and ensuring that the biodiversity survives is essential.  Recognizing that each region is ecologically different lends reason to support local initiatives that can respond to local problems and operate within specific cultures.

Read more »

What Is the Role of Cities in Sustainable Development?

by Jonathan Coulis Jun 17, 2012

Reposted from the ICLEI World Congress Blog:

The opening ceremony of the ICLEI World Congress swept across many of the core issues facing “development” and our global community today.  In a broad sense, the global community has arrived at a crucial juncture.  Recent events in the world have reshaped the context and conversation about sustainable development just as Rio+20 is scheduled to occur.

Read more »

Urban Nature Forum Official Message to the ICLEI World Congress 2012

by Don Knapp Jun 17, 2012

Reposted from the ICLEI World Congress Blog:

Over the past two days the ICLEI Cities Biodiversity Center in partnership and with thanks to the City of Belo Horizonte, SEBRAE and the Secretariat of Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has hosted the third Urban Nature Forum here in Belo Horizonte. This has provided a unique science-policy-implementation interface for stimulating discussion, and importantly, leading to positive action on urban biodiversity and ecosystem management. The message from this forum is that:

Read more »

Introducing the ICLEI World Congress 2012

by Don Knapp Jun 17, 2012


Every three years, ICLEI members and partners gather at an ICLEI World Congress to showcase their actions over the period and discuss strategies for the following years.


This year, the ICLEI World Congress is taking place in the long term member city of Belo Horizonte, Brasil, bringing together more than 1400 ICLEI Members, partners, global strategists, academics, businesses and NGO’s together. Participants will learn from inspirational speakers and real-life city cases about cutting-edge integrated solutions to the challenges we face.


Closely linked to the UN Rio+20 conference, the ICLEI World Congress 2012 will chart the way forward for local governments and their partners to a more sustainable and prosperous future.


More than 1400 participants from 45 countries, half of whom are representing local governments are attending ICLEI's biggest World Congress.

Read more »

Annual Report: How ICLEI Empowers Sustainable Communities

by Don Knapp Jul 06, 2011

iclei 2010 annual report big thumb











ICLEI USA is proud to release our 2010 Annual Report: Empowering Sustainable Communities. Read about our evolution and impact over the past year, and where we’re headed in 2011 and beyond. 

ICLEI USA is the leading organization that supports local governments dedicated to climate action, clean energy, and sustainability. No other organization can match ICLEI’s comprehensive approach, and no organization understands local climate action and sustainability better than we do. Read our Annual Report and you’ll see why.

Look inside for:

  • A list of the most successful climate actions and success stories, from cities and counties coast to coast
  • A list of climate mitigation goals and Five Milestone progress of all U.S. ICLEI member local governments; find out where your city or county stands!
  • ICLEI’s evolving vision to build regional sustainability networks
  • Our plan to develop and deliver new trainings and technical guidance
  • How our tools and software evolved in 2010, and what’s under development for future release

>> View the Annual Report (pdf)

Read more »

ICLEI USA Rated as a Top Nonprofit on Climate Change

by Don Knapp Feb 09, 2010

Thumbs Up Group

Despite working for an organization that adamantly does not rank or rate its local government members, or encourage the ranking of “green” cities, I’m feeling enthusiastic about ranking and rating systems at the moment. Can you blame me? ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA has been named a Top Nonprofit in the field of climate change by Philanthropedia, a nonprofit mutual fund. ICLEI USA ranked fourth out of 15 top climate change nonprofits. Woo hoo!

Philanthropedia Top Nonprofit Medal

A group of 139 climate change experts assembled by Philanthropedia—including foundation professionals, nonprofit executives, and academics—praised ICLEI USA’s effective strategies, its ability to drive a movement of local governments working to mitigate climate change, and its essential tools and guidance to help U.S. cities and counties achieve significant, measurable progress. In their ratings, the experts submitted glowing comments like the following:

  • "ICLEI's work with local governments is of crucial importance in the US."
  • "I think they are very effectively engaging their constituency in actual changes and innovation."
  • "They have good targets and achieve local ACTION, not just talk."


A Vote of Confidence for Our Approach

Not just talk. Gotta love being recognized as the organization that Gets Things Done. While the experts who worked with Philanthropedia remained anonymous, it’s clear from their statements that they know ICLEI’s work well. I can't resist pasting in two more comments that make us happy, and affirm that we’re doing something right:

  • "They provide information to municipal officials (the people working where the rubber meets the road when it comes to how national policies become realities on the ground). They do so in terms that their audience gets. In the 1990s, I learned more from ICLEI re: climate change and how to fight it than from all the other non-profit organizations put together and I still regularly use what they taught me."
  • "They are performing an essential service to cities: creating their baseline climate assessments -- all at a non-profit consulting rate!"

Jeb Brugmann, ICLEI USA's Interim Executive Director, and Secretary General of ICLEI Global from 1990-2000, sums up what this designation means to us:

"This award, and our rapidly growing membership, re-affirm the value of ICLEI's unique approach. The more that government and business leaders look beyond the Beltway for ways to scale-up real on-the-ground action, the more I think they will look to partner with ICLEI’s growing network.”


Impressive Company

ICLEI USA joined a distinguished group of climate change nonprofits on Philanthropedia’s top 15 list. ICLEI USA tied the Pew Center on Global Climate Change for fourth place, behind the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the World Resources Institute. Via the Philanthropedia website, launched in November 2009, individuals can make a single donation to support climate change work, which will be divided among these 15 organizations.


More on Philanthropedia

So what is Philanthropedia? A nonprofit organization working to help donors make smarter donations by connecting them with some of the strongest nonprofits in a sector. Their mutual fund model for online donations seems quite innovative, but rather than try to explain how it works, I'd suggest you visit their website and read more. You can also read the full write-up on ICLEI USA, including more expert comments, some of which focus on ways we can improve our organization and our services. And oh yeah, you can make a donation to support efforts to fight climate change—including ICLEI’s.


Read more »

Schwarzenegger Steps Up to the Plate: Calls for Stronger Role of Subnational Governments

by wesleylook Dec 15, 2009

Schwarzenegger 2 (needs photo credit)

Photo credit: Thomas Hawk via Flickr Creative Commons

On Tuesday, Governor Schwarzenegger of California drew crowds at COP15, both within the plenary hall and clustered around flat-screens throughout the Bella Center. He spoke about the leadership of the State of California, and used California’s successes as an example of the important role of sub-national governments in fighting climate change. "California has shown that a sub-national government can lead the way to national change, and I urge all of the world leaders here in Copenhagen to liberate the power beneath the national level.”

Governor Schwarzenneger’s call was not merely for a greater climate negotiation role for state’s such as his own, but for all subnational governments, including municipal governments. "I would ask the U.N. to convene a climate summit, like Copenhagen, but for cities, for states, for provinces and for regions," said the Governor in his speech. "And I would be more than happy to host such a summit in California."

Governor Schwarzenegger’s compelling words parallel comments made by the Mayor of Mexico City, Marcelo Ebrard, here in the ICLEI Local Government Climate Lounge earlier this week. Mayor Ebrard too has asked for a more active role for subnational governments, and has also expressed interest in hosting an event to make this possible, as part of the next COP, which will take place in Mexico City in 2010.

Perhaps there will be a Pacific partnership between subnational leaders to bring the voice of sub-national governments to the center stage of international climate negotiations.


Read more »

Meet the ICLEI USA Team in Copenhagen

by Annie Strickler Dec 13, 2009

With the eyes of the world on Copenhagen, we wanted to let you know who is representing you – ICLEI USA members – here at the international climate negotiations known as COP15. The official ICLEI USA delegation is an all-star lineup with a packed schedule:

Patrick HaysMayor Patrick Hays, North Little Rock, Arkansas: As President of the ICLEI USA Board, Mayor Hays will represent all of us at a number of high profile events including the Copenhagen Mayors Summit and a panel discussion with Mayor Bloomberg of New York, Wisconsin Governor Doyle and Nancy Sutley from the White House. 

Frank Cownie thumbMayor Frank Cownie, Des Moines, Iowa: ICLEI USA Board Treasurer Mayor Cownie will also attend the Copenhagen Mayors Summit and represent his city, the Midwest and us at a number of event including one sponsored by the State Department. 


Pegeen Hanrahan thumbMayor Pegeen Hanrahan, Gainesville, Florida: ICLEI USA Board Secretary Mayor Hanrahan is also here as part of the Florida delegation. In addition to that role, she will speak at a State Department-sponsored event and will help ICLEI USA launch our new Measuring Up report of US local government targets and progress.

Valerie Brown thumbSupervisor Valerie Brown, Sonoma County, California: In addition to serving on the ICLEI USA Board of Directors, Supervisor Brown is President of the National Association of Counties and, as such, stays busy here in Copenhagen with many speaking engagements. She will also attend the Copenhagen Mayors Summit.

Martin J. ChavezMayor Marty Chavez, Albuquerque, New Mexico: As a member of the ICLEI USA Board of Directors and ICLEI Global Executive Committee, Mayor Chavez is here touting his city’s incredible progress on water and climate issues as well as working to improve this organization. 

Harvey RuvinClerk of Courts Harvey Ruvin, Miami-Dade County, Florida: Also both a member of the ICLEI USA Board and ICLEI Global Executive Committee, Mr. Ruvin brings years of experience on local climate action and stories from the frontlines of climate impacts in highly vulnerable south Florida to Copenhagen.

Wish them luck as they have their work cut out for them this week, and we’ll keep reporting live from COP15 in Copenhagen! 

Read more »

What We Want in Copenhagen and Why

by Annie Strickler Dec 13, 2009

Copenhagen COP15 2


Unless you live under a rock or have been stuck in the mall doing holiday shopping, you know that thousands of people from around the world have come together in Copenhagen for international climate negotiations known as “COP15.”

Local governments have a strong representation at COP15 – ICLEI helped more than 1,100 people who work with or for local governments. We’re the second largest delegation at COP15. As one of those 1,100+, I can tell you we are all being kept very busy.

For ICLEI local governments, the late hours and intense meetings and group discussions are all about one thing – one sentence in fact:

“Parties recognize the role which local and subnational governments play in taking mitigation and adaptation actions and will seek their active participation in the immediate implementation of this agreement.”

We are here in Copenhagen asking the national delegations currently negotiating agreement text to include that one simple but critical sentence. And we’ve met with dozens of delegations from Africa to India to Europe to the U.S. to Brazil to carry that message directly to them.

We’re fighting for basic recognition and empowerment. If you’re part of this local government movement, you probably read that sentence and assumed that kind of language would, without question, be part of any international climate agreement.

After all, local governments have stepped up to the plate for decades to set ambitious emissions reductions targets and find innovative ways to meet those goals.

After all, local governments will be (and already are) the first ones to see and have to deal with the impacts of climate change.

After all, the implementation for many of the policies that will come about as part of any agreement – even if they fall under the banner of a national government – will happen at the local government level.

But after all, in a document that has been wordsmithed and negotiated and reframed countless times over the recent year, one single sentence is a big deal.

So for all the local governments around the world on the frontlines of climate impacts and solutions, this sentence is what we want and why we’re here in Copenhagen.

Read more »

Solar Santa Monica, CA

by Rena Ragimova Dec 09, 2009

The Achievement

The City of Santa Monica's Community Energy Independence Initiative establishes a net zero energy city goal by 2020 -- meaning that through maximizing energy efficiency and solar in every building in the community it is possible to produce as much electricity as is consumed. Solar Santa Monica provides free-of-charge energy efficiency and solar assessments for residential and commercial property owners and pre-qualified contractors. The program simplifies and streamlines the solar purchasing process by evaluating competing contractor bids, helping the property owner to understand his or her options and make the most cost-effective and beneficial choice. The program also works to educate the community through hands-on workshops covering many energy and solar topics, participation in community events, and partnerships with schools, affordable housing providers, community colleges and other nonprofits.

Read more »