The City Partnerships Challenge is a two-year capacity building process centred around the development of an investable multi-partner sustainable urban development project.  This collaborative framework catalyses and combines the resources of government, business, academia and civil society in order to find concrete solutions to seemingly intractable urban, social, economic and environmental issues.

The ‘City Partnerships Challenge’ was launched globally on 13 February, 2018 at the World Urban Forum 9 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. An inaugural cohort of the City Partnerships Challenge began in 2018 and is currently underway in Australia. 

What is the City Partnerships Process?

The process draws on 15 years  experience in applying ‘the Melbourne Model’ – a collaborative framework ‘to catalyse and combine the resources of government, business and civil society in order to find concrete solutions to seemingly intractable urban, social, economic and environmental issues”.

We also work with existing networks, programs and investment vehicles (aimed at delivering sustainable and resilient urbanisation) by brokering partnerships and establishing “shared value” governance. The aim is to accelerate and sustain implementation of these transformative projects.

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.


Through participating in the City Partnerships Challenge your city or region will:

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

We bring in private sector and civil society partners to support your country’s group of cities. You will work in a cohort of 10 to 20 cities. Through ‘City Partnerships’ you will also develop relationships and share knowledge with other cities – and organisations from other sectors.

After participating in the ‘City Partnerships Challenge’, our aim is that your city will have the capability and the local partners to continue developing and delivering integrated, transformative urban development projects – in partnership with others.

Service and Support

The International Secretariat provides a number of tools and services to support the City Partnerships Challenge 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

What is required?

Cities participating in the City Partnerships Challenge are required to provide;

In-kind contribution: a dedicated Development Leader to be the focal point for the city. This involves a minimum of 2 days effort a week. An executive level champion in the organisation is also required to provide senior support and guidance throughout the two-year period.

• Financial contribution: USD$20,000 per year for two years. This financial contribution can be reduced depending on supporting contributions from local, regional, national and international partners to support the city participants. Partners can be from government, private sector and civil society organisations. This financial contribution is required for facilitation, capacity building, coordination of partners and research and student support services.

Selection Criteria for Participation

The selection of participant cities will be based on:

• population of local or regional government participant (greater than 20,000 population desirable)
• proportional representation desired: 50% regional/rural municipalities; 50% metropolitan municipalities
• population growth rate indicative of urbanisation pressures/changes
• regional aggregation or clusters of applicants
• quality of personnel initially identified to participate;
• potential Sustainable Development Goals and New Urban Agenda theme/focus for projects

Preference will be given to cities that can indicate initial interest by Regional (State or Provincial) Governments and National Governments.

Expressions of Interest

To be involved:

Step 1 – Download the ‘City Partnerships Challenge Prospectus’.

Step 2 – Read, share with colleagues, and secure executive approval to apply.

Step 3 – Register your Expression of Interest here.

Note: We welcome expressions of interest at any time via the link above, however please note that the deadline for submissions as part of the first round of the City Partnerships Challenge closed on 05 October 2018.

The Expression of Interest is not a legally binding document. If accepted, the city has the option to postpone or not proceed into contractual commitment.

Non-City Partners

There are several opportunities for governments, private sector, universities, foundations and civil society organisations to partner in the implementation of ‘City Partnerships Challenge’.

Follow this link to an Expression of Interest form for Non-City Partners to indicate interest in partnering in the ‘City Partnerships Challenge’.

For further information on the City Partnerships Challenge, please contact us at