Cities are vital to tackling the climate crisis. We know that all cities must contribute towards global net zero goals by 2050 in order to limit climate change to 1.5 degrees C. However, they cannot do it alone. Globally, one third of potential urban emission reductions relies on collaboration between local, regional and national governments, a further third is the primary responsibility of higher tiers of government. What’s more, half of the possible urban emissions reduction lies in cities of fewer than 750,000 people, cities which often lack the financial and technical resources of larger municipalities and are therefore particularly reliant on regional and national government support and enabling conditions.

Cities need a systemic approach to climate change that unlocks collaboration across institutional boundaries and sectors. Aligning planning and implementation of national, regional and local policies around a shared climate action vision can yield greater efficiencies, reduce risk and help cities and national government achieve their respective climate and development goals.

WRI supports multi-level governance through our work on cities, climate, energy, forests and more. The Multi-Level Governance approach builds on the work of the Coalition for Urban Transitions and deep country expertise and experience. Our work and the work of our many partners has shown the power of multi-level governance in action. 

The Multi-Level Governance Atlas, produced by WRI in partnership with the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy and supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, showcases over 100 examples of multi-level governance at work. Examples from 52 countries around the world are categorized according to different enabling conditions and mapped with links to find further information. Despite differing country and city contexts, the Atlas demonstrates that there are many lessons to be learned from existing initiatives and that through collaboration, we can move together at pace towards a resilient and net-zero future.

The examples included in the map above are accurate as of November 2023. This is a living resource so please check back regularly for updates. If you have any updates or relevant examples you suggest including, please let us know by contacting  

Multi-level governance enablers: 

The Multilevel Climate Action Guide for Decision-Makers

This report, by the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy with WRI input, features the Multi-Level Governance Atlas and highlights three recommendations that can catalyze multilevel governance and coordination. Applied with local and regional considerations, these recommendations offer opportunities for meaningful and accelerated progress towards achieving national climate ambition through joined up local and regional implementation.

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Vertical & Horizontal Collaboration: Formal or informal bodies to facilitate coordination and collaboration across levels and sectors of government and other actors for a variety of issues including data and information sharing, policy development, implementation of projects and programs, reporting and monitoring, and integrated national climate policies. 

Multi-Level, Multi-Actor Capacity: Increasing technical, administrative and coordination capacity for multiple actors at local, regional and national levels. 

Unlocking Finance: Collaboration between national and regional and/or local levels to increase access to finance from a multitude of sources including international donors, climate funds and/or the private sector. 

Accelerating Research & Innovation: National, local and regional governments all have a critical role to play in fostering much-needed research and innovation on climate action at all levels. 

Civil Society & Civic Engagement: Creating formal or informal coalitions by engaging with civil society, community groups, indigenous communities, youth groups and other key stakeholders on commitments, policies, solutions, data, information and innovation.

Photo by Calin Stan / Unsplash