The most active local governments you can find in the U.S., and probably elsewhere, are members of an organization called ICLEI. These are strictly government – not grassroots – based memberships, but where local governments take the lead, grassroots activism is usually encouraged to thrive.

It was founded by the United Nations in 1990 as the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives. Now that the focus is on climate change, they’ve turned the acronym into their name – ICLEI (pronounced “ICK-lee”) and added the tagline: Local Governments for Sustainability. Their local international membership includes over 700 county governments, municipal governments, provincial governments, networks of local governments and big city governments like Los Angeles, New York and London.

We provide technical consulting, training, and information services to build capacity, share knowledge, and support local government in the implementation of sustainable development at the local level. Our basic premise is that locally designed initiatives can provide an effective and cost-efficient way to achieve local, national, and global sustainability objectives.

ICLEI provides information, delivers training, organizes conferences, facilitates networking and city-to-city exchanges, carries out research and pilot projects, and offers technical services and consultancy. We also provide software and tools to help local governments achieve their sustainable development goals.

If your local government is not yet a member of ICLEI, it’s a good community to urge them to join. They’ll learn from the lessons of other locations and they’re transitioning from focusing only on sustainability to including adaptive activities for the unavoidable impacts to come.