Support to leverage local-level finance

ICLEI supports improved access to finance for local and subnational governments. We believe finance should be used as a key mechanism for achieving more socially and environmentally sustainable communities, to scale up cross-sectoral, transformative and inclusive approaches and bring together key stakeholders at the municipal, public and private sectors.

Why focus on finance?

Local and subnational governments often lack the capacity to understand the different financing requirements from various public and private financing institutions, as well as the different terminology and ways to assess the sustainability impact and financial benefits of a proposed project. These are just a few of the many challenges they face in accessing finance.

Local and subnational governments are interested in achieving local multi-benefit impacts, which contribute to quality of life and social equity while significantly reducing negative environmental impacts. Donors and investors may have other criteria. The aim is to connect these discussions to move forward on a pathway that eases access to finance, responding to key criteria for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Core projects and activities

ICLEI does not directly fund or invest in local projects.

We focus on providing resources and support that better position local and subnational governments to access finance and to implement innovative local financing mechanisms.

Transformative Actions Program (TAP)

The Transformative Actions Program (TAP) is an innovative initiative that aims to catalyze and improve capital flows to cities, towns and regions to accelerate low-carbon and climate-resilient development.

It is a cooperative effort designed for local and subnational governments with transformative climate projects. By participating in the TAP, cities, towns and regions take proactive steps and access a network of partners that will increase their visibility, better position them to access climate finance and encourage replication of transformative climate actions and innovative local financing mechanisms.

The TAP features four key pillars: 

  1. TAP Project Pipeline
  2. TAP Platform
  3. TAP Services
  4. TAP Advocacy

The TAP is open to local and subnational governments seeking project funding or visibility.

Green Public Procurement

Public spending processes are directly linked to sound financial management. ICLEI has developed extensive sets of guidance and tools to help local governments embed sustainable procurement practices into their day to day activities. These provide an introduction to the topic, access to key resources and practical support for implementing and measuring the impact of sustainable public procurement. For more visit our Agenda, Sustainable Local Economy and Procurement.

Cities Climate Finance Leadership Alliance (CCFLA)

ICLEI is a founding partner of the CCFLA and on the Steering Committee. Together with over forty leading organizations, we are actively working to mobilize investment into low-carbon and climate-resilient infrastructure in cities and urban areas internationally. The alliance mission is to catalyze and accelerate additional capital flows to cities, maximize investment in climate smart infrastructure, and close the investment gap in urban areas over the next fifteen years. The TAP forms a core element of ICLEI’s engagement in the CCFLA, exploring with financing institutions how they can help achieve the mission.

Climate-KIC Low Carbon City Lab (LoCaL)

Climate-KIC, the EU’s main climate innovation initiative, provides a platform to accelerate public-private innovation partnerships focused on climate mitigation and adaptation. As a Climate-KIC partner, ICLEI engages in the following LoCaL projects:

Green Bonds for Cities in Emerging and Developing Countries

Globally, green bonds have emerged as a new form of proactive sustainable investing for investors. However, cities in emerging and developing countries - with the exception of Johannesburg - have not used green bonds successfully so far. Access to low-cost capital at scale is critical for cities to realize low-carbon and climate-resilient growth. However, reliance on the existing sources of debt in the local banking sector limits the capacity of financing new infrastructure for local governments. The green bonds market and its deepening pool of investors can offer the much needed access to this low-cost capital. ICLEI will disseminate guidance on Green Bonds, also to be made available to TAP applicants.

Climate-KIC Matchmaker

To increase climate finance streams, CDP and ICLEI, together with South Pole Group and Gold Standard Foundation, seek to develop a service to connect private investors and national/regional/international public finance institutions with urban climate change mitigation projects. In 2016, Matchmaker will actively connect cities and investors via a matchmaking service, and design a business model that will enable the service to achieve significant scale and impact. By harnessing existing data flows the service will become the go-to place for city projects to be pre-assessed, categorized and selected for financing agencies, also linking to the Transformative Actions Program (TAP).

For more, please download the flyer here.

Climate-KIC Results Based Finance

To date, the participation of local governments and of urban climate change mitigation projects in the global carbon market and other Results Based Finance (RBF) activities remains extremely limited. The under-representation can be linked both to the difficulties to implement urban mitigation projects and to the difficulties for cities to access the carbon market. These limitations can be addressed by a tailored RBF mechanism for cities, which this project will develop. An RBF mechanism would allow cities to attract financing to their climate actions based on development benefits and reduction in GHG emissions, while funders would see the clear impact of their funding. ICLEI will investigate successful TAP applications that have already secured financing to be assessed and tested for RBF certification.



Latest news


Cities Alliance and ICLEI team up for TAP – Transformative Action Program

During the UNFCCC COP22 meeting in Marrakech, the issue of finance was raised repeatedly, especially finance at the local level. Identifying catalytic and innovative urban resilience to better match them with finance opportunities is the central motivation behind a new grant from Cities Alliance to ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability in support of the Transformative Action Program - TAP.As part of the project ICLEI will work in...



ICLEI celebrates 20 years of work on Sustainable Public Procurement

On April 27th, ICLEI marked 20 years of work on sustainable procurement at a ceremony in Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum. The event was part of the 8th European Conference on Sustainable Cities and Towns and also provided the opportunity to showcase the new-look SP Platform and the revamped Procura+ European Sustainable Procurement Network. Over the last 20 years, through its activities on sustainable and innovation procurement, ICLEI has trained...


Photo credits

"View over Zürich and Lake Zürich" by Heni2000 is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

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