In 2010-2012, ICMA facilitated international partnerships focused on climate change and sustainability at the local level under a grant from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the U.S. Department of State.
A total of 24 professionals from Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, and China participated in exchanges with their counterparts in 11 U.S. cities and counties to learn what their respective communities are doing in terms of climate action planning and adaptation. Participating U.S. cities included Palm Bay, Alachua County, and Tallahassee, Florida; Austin and El Paso, Texas; Palo Alto, California; Dubuque, Iowa; Park City, Utah; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Mission, Kansas; and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, Washington D.C.
The exchange visits, which occurred between April 2011 and March 2012, included participation in short-term fellowships, job shadowing, meetings with government officials, and visits to nonprofits and community groups working to create sustainable communities.
The exchanges were part of a larger State Department program that brought more than 200 individuals from more than 30 countries to the United States in 2011 alone. In addition to climate change, they explored issues relating to food security, global health, legislative development, and “education to employment.”
One of the Fellows from New Zealand was Nicci Wood, a planning engineer with the Wellington City Council. Her fellowship was in Mission, Kansas, where city administrator Michael Scanlon and the staff hosted her for two weeks. Upon her return home, she discussed the experience in an interview at the U.S. embassy in Wellington, and the embassy posted the interview on YouTube.
Fellows were selected in cooperation with ICMA’s affiliate organizations: Local Government Managers Australia (LGMA), the New Zealand Society of Local Government Managers (SOLGM), and the Association of Indonesia Municipalities (APESKI), and the China University of Political Science and Law (CUPL), ICMA’s partner in the ICMA China Center.