Become a Leading City

Cities and Regions at the Leading-level of the UN Global Compact – Cities Programme:

  • are conscious of their roles as regional leaders and global citizens
  • work to improve the knowledge and practices of other cities and regions.
  • actively and meaningfully engage their citizens and other stakeholders in their planning and projects.
  • have a dedicated plan with a holistic, integrated approach which:

What are the actions of a Leading-level City?

There is flexibility in the plan of activities for a Leading-level city but foundation actions include: nominating a Leading City Liaison person/Coordinator; undertaking a review of challenges and actions (generally the City Scan diagnostic); developing a Global Compact Leading City Plan of Action; and communicating about activities and outcomes.

1. Nominating Facilitators

The Leading city nominates a Liaison person/Coordinator who:

  • is the primary point of contact for the International Secretariat;
  • facilitates the involvement of other interested parties in Leading city activities; and
  • is responsible for meeting the reporting requirements of the UN Global Compact.

The International Secretariat establishes a specific City Liaison Officer for the Leading-level city or region. This person:

  • is the primary point of contact at the International Secretariat for that city;
  • is responsible for coordinating research and urban expert support in the city or region’s Leading-level activities;
  • is responsible for communicating outcomes; and
  • is responsible for further developing new opportunities for collaboration.

2. City Diagnostic

Most Leading-level cities undertake a City Scan diagnostic involving an in-depth, supported process of diagnosing the participant city’s progress across the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact – with the Mark II version, the Sustainable Development Goals. This is based on a detailed questionnaire and reporting tool which provides cities with the opportunity to identify their region’s challenges, record their progress, priorities and plans and highlight successful initiatives. It draws information from across departments of the administration and it takes approximately three weeks to collate data.

3. United Nations Global Compact Principles – Leading City Plan of Action

Based on the outcomes of the City Diagnostic or similar internal review, the city or region develops a detailed plan of action for the initial three years of Leading-level city status. This plan will outline priorities, projects, partners and key actors, objectives and processes to monitor and measure outcomes.

4. Establishment of a Cross-Sectoral Reference Group

At the Leading-level of the UN Global Compact – Cities Programme, the city is encouraged to establish a cross-sectoral group to support Leading-level activities. This is not mandatory but it is highly valuable in deepening the impact of projects and utilising the cross-sectoral model of the Cities Programme. If the city has an established cross-sectoral group related to existing initiatives, the responsibilities of that group could be extended to the UN Global Compact Leading-level city engagement, and members would be recognised for their role.

5. Communication on Activities

Leading-level cities communicate the process, outcomes and learning of leading projects and actions. This is done through our self-publishing web platform, accessed by logging on here.

Additional Leadership Activities

There are a number of additional activities in which these cities can demonstrate leadership, achieve positive impacts in their region and influence other cities. These can include (but are not limited to):

  • Hosting events, seminars and conferences
  • Conducting webinars
  • Developing and distributing resources
  • Developing and delivering cross-regional and cross-sectoral projects
  • Leading the formation of a regional network of cities (and partners) working to address specific regional issues

Resourcing Leading-level Action

Additional resources are available to support Leading-level cities to undertake development activities that advance their region and influence others. The support can come from the resources of:

  • the UN Global Compact – Cities Programme International Secretariat (through a funded contractual arrangement);
  • a local partner (through a defined agreement with the International Secretariat); or
  • the city or region (where a defined proportion of budget and resources is dedicated to Global Compact leadership activities).

The scope of actions and related resourcing is defined on an annual basis.

Length of Recognition

Global Compact cities and regions are recognised as a Leading-level city for a period of three years. This can be extended for a further three-year period following a review of actions and outcomes. This extension is made through an offer, in writing, from the International Secretariat.

Express Your Interest

Leading-level city engagement is by invitation. Please express your interest in becoming a Leading-level city here.


Feature Image: Leading City Maringá, in Paraná, Brazil have a Municipal Council of Women which includes community representatives and government. Part of their work includes an Assistance to Women Reference Center. Source: Municipality of Maringá.