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Regions and sub-national governments are crucial drivers for global sustainability. In addition to their own policies, plans and initiatives which align with sustainability principles, they provide frameworks for their cities and municipalities in order to amplify influence at the national level.

City-region cooperation and urban-rural interaction build the conditions necessary to advance sustainability on the local, regional and sub-national level. Public transport, local and regional energy generation, resource flows, food systems, productive city-regions and urban planning can often most successfully be approached within
a wider functional area.

Some of ICLEI's goals can be achieved by approaching the issues at a regional scale, which allows for effective implementation of sustainable practices.

Multi-level governance is an organized and responsible mechanism that allows governments of different levels to execute their diverse responsibilities in a shared direction. Such coordination, as well as the vertical integration of policy implementation, is vital for achieving sustainability goals.

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