Leading Cities and Regions

Leading level cities and regions have a special position in the UN Global Compact – Cities Programme international network.

They work to advance the Ten Principles of the United Nations Global Compact and the Sustainable Development Goals – making their city or region inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable – through:

  • a holistic, collaborative, participatory approach to sustainability

  • the implementation of multi partner sustainable urban development project/s.

They undertake a supported two year process of capacity development and facilitation to develop high impact, investable, sustainable urban development projects.

Supported process to develop multi-partner urban development projects

The leading city participates in a two-year capacity building process centred around the development of an investable multi-partner sustainable urban development project.  This system utilises the ‘Melbourne Model’ of a multi sector task force (comprising government, business, civil society and academia) working to address a complex or seemingly intractable issue or set of issues. It is now being offered globally as the ‘City Partnerships Challenge’.

The system offers many benefits to cities and regions, it:

  • builds capacity through applied learning based on developing real projects with local, national and international partners
  • assists the set up governance structures for Public-Private Partnerships that include civil society (PPPPs – Public Private People Partnerships)
  • provides guidance to develop projects:
    • with non-traditional partners
    • that are innovative and robust
    • can attract funding and finance
    • address critical local challenges
    • advance the sustainable development goals
  • provides support with issue diagnosis, development of business cases and partnered proposals and project metrics and measurement and reporting systems.

What is the Leading City – ‘City Partnerships’ Process?

The two year process uses eight steps to support cities to identify and foster the development of partnered projects.


There are two stages in the City Partnerships process, see diagram below.

Stage 1

The Stage 1 steps focus mainly on the capacity building of a local government urban development leader to support them to establish a task force, comprised of champions from private sector, different levels of government and civil society.

After an assessment of critical SDG related issues within each participating city, the taskforce are supported in the development of business cases by teams of business and multi-disciplinary teams of students and a researcher relevant to solution.

Stage 2

Stage 2 steps focus on further refining the development of the solution into a ‘partnered proposal’ for implementation, funding and financing.

The business case is refined through an innovation sprint with broader potential partners, students and researchers to address critical barriers, enabling needs and support for implementation. The implementation and evaluation steps ensure continuity of process.

Step 1: Capacity building for development leader
Development leaders participate in two weeks of intensive face-to-face applied training on process, skills, tools and templates. Additional capacity building is given during each step.

Step 2: Taskforce formation
Identify and select taskforce members, creating a dynamic multi-sector team to guide and support project development.

Step 3: Shared value workshop
Explore the initial concept to increase value to multiple stakeholders and identify specific cross-cutting benefits, governance options and opportunities for self-sustaining revenue.

Step 4: Business case development
Business case design and development with taskforce and inputs from multiple partners including researchers, student teams, government agencies and international agencies/NGOs.

Step 5: Refine value proposition and attract further partners
Testing business case with broad audience of potential further partners from government, business and civil society to refine value proposition and advance the scale of support.

Step 6: Partnered proposal development
Partners develop (and fund) detailed proposal for implementation with inputs from experts and researchers. Proposal to include implementation plan, cost and benefit (value and impact), governance and financial models.

Step 7: Finalise funding and finance
Execute agreements for all partners and secure funding and financing arrangements.

Step 8: Implementation, monitoring and evaluation
Deliver project with monitoring review and evaluation for performance reporting.

At completion, the Development leader identifies new projects to develop
With applied skills, the development leader identifies new projects and starts from Step 2.


Service and support

The international secretariat provides a number of tools and services to support the leading city and its partners throughout this pipeline process. These include:

  • Capacity building training and applied learning along the process
  • Guidance and review with the City diagnostic process
  • Facilitation support and mentoring for identifying and creating shared value opportunities with partners
  • Multi-criteria decision making tools for prioritising opportunities and supporting preferred project business case development
  • Guidance for the creation of robust transparent governance systems and partnership arrangements
  • Review and advice on the development of Multi Partner Project Proposals
  • Review and guidance on Project investment and implementation systems
  • Official recognition and opportunities to communicate progress locally and internationally
  • A dedicated liaison point/relationship manager within the International/Regional Secretariat team

City or region commitments

Leading level cities and regions:

  • nominate and appointment of a dedicated sustainable urban development leader (equivalent to 0.5 full time staff member) (this person is also the key contact and liaison for the international secretariat)
  • undertake a review of urban challenges (generally done through the City Scan diagnostic)
  • participate in capacity development activities
  • establish a multi-sector management group
  • support establishment of a Sustainable Urban Development project
  • pay a service fee of USD 20,000 annually for 2 years.

Express Your Interest

Express your city or region’s interest in becoming a Leading level city here.