City Creditworthiness Initiative: A Partnership to Deliver Municipal Finance

Access to financing is a major hurdle to sustainable urban development. The World Bank's City Creditworthiness Initiative helps cities improve their financial performance and secure the private investment they need to fund climate-smart infrastructure and services.

Click to view: Context | Strategy | Results | Partners


Cities across the world are growing and polluting to unprecedented levels. The World Bank estimates that cities will attract an additional 2 billion people by 2050, and will produce well over 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Already under pressure, infrastructure and basic services such as transport, solid waste management, education or sanitation will need to be expanded significantly in order to serve these growing populations.

The investment required is immense: developing countries need an extra $1.3 trillion of investment in public infrastructure a year just to keep pace. Traditional sources of financing from central governments and international aid organizations won’t be nearly sufficient to meet the demand. Cities will need to innovate and access private sources of long-term financing through local capital markets and commercial partnerships.

However, in order to attract investment from private sources cities need to first be creditworthy. They need to manage finances, plan development and engage citizens using methods that emphasize sustainability and transparency. Recent estimates show that less than 20% of the largest 500 cities in developing countries are deemed creditworthy in their local context, severely constricting their capacity to finance investments in public infrastructure.

Supporting cities on the path to creditworthiness is the crucial first step in unlocking the larger, longer-term, sustainable investments that will provide critical services to resident populations and foster green growth through climate-smart urban development.

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Helping local and municipal governments access financing has become an integral part of the World Bank’s sustainable urban development strategy. To that end, the Bank has developed the City Creditworthiness Initiative to provide local authorities with comprehensive, hands-on, and long-term support and help them:

  • Achieve higher creditworthiness by strengthening financial performance;
  • Develop an enabling legal and regulatory, institutional, and policy framework for responsible sub-national borrowing through reforms at the national level;
  • Improve the “demand” side of financing by developing sound, climate-smart projects that foster green growth;
  • Improve the “supply” side of financing by engaging with private sector investors.

The City Creditworthiness Initiative is comprised of two primary components:

  • City Creditworthiness Academies are hands-on learning programs that teach city leaders the fundamentals of creditworthiness and municipal finance, including issues determined by the enabling environment and options for financing: revenue management and enhancement; expenditure control and asset maintenance; capital investment planning; debt management; and, scoping out options for financing. Using a preliminary self-assessment tool, participants develop a customized preliminary action plan of specific institutional reforms, capacity building, and other actions that will improve their creditworthiness and their ability to plan, finance and deliver infrastructure services. (See our self-assessment tool used by cities at our academies at
  • The Academies serve as the launching point for City Creditworthiness Implementation Programs: In-depth, multi-year, on-the-job, customized technical assistance programs to help them prepare for, structure, and close market-based financing transactions for climate-smart infrastructure projects, using local currency markets whenever possible. The range of interventions is wide, encompassing everything from improving national legal and regulatory frameworks, to increasing the use of data in decision- and policy-making, improving revenue collection and management systems, and reforming capital improvement planning and budgeting.

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The Initiative has set the ambitious goal of assisting 300 cities in 60 low- and middle-income countries on the path to green growth and creditworthiness. So far, over 650 senior financial and urban planning officers have participated in City Creditworthiness Academies, representing a total of 261 local authorities across 30 different countries. Each of these participant cities have completed a creditworthiness self-assessment, highlighted their core creditworthiness challenges and also created a detailed, customized action plan. To see more on our most recent Academies, please consult the following links:

For many cities an Academy is just the beginning of an extended program of targeted creditworthiness technical assistance. Cities in low-income countries across our Africa region engagements have benefitted from the targeted advisory services the program can offer. 

Some key achievements include:


  • Detailed PPP project pipeline assessments conducted for 4 local governments
  • Climate-Smart, Capital Investment Plans adopted for 3 local governments
  • Detailed Own Source Revenue review and identification for the City of Arusha
  • Legal/regulatory review of the Tanzania Capital Market
  • Executive level Municipal Finance Assessments conducted for 5 local governments


  • Implementation of the first Climate-Smart, Capital Investment Plan for the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA)
  • Project pipeline assessment and PPP identification for the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA)
  • Pre-feasibility study for hospital PPP


  • Electricity Supply Company of Malawi (ESCOM) shadow credit rating, national scale
  • Financial advisory, capacity building and tax efficiency/strengthening analysis

Forthcoming Programs

  • Programs are under development for Ethiopia, India, Uganda and Turkey

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The City Creditworthiness Initiative was conceived to coordinate and integrate existing efforts, instruments, knowledge and resources by identifying the most effective solutions and implementation arrangements for sub-national entities. For that reason, the Initiative is being implemented by the World Bank Group in close cooperation with a growing network of partner agencies, including:

Core Funding Partners:

  • The Private Public Infrastructure Advisory Facility: PPIAF is multi-donor trust fund that provides technical assistance to help countries improve their investment climate and develop specific infrastructure projects with private sector participation.
  • The Korean Green Growth Partnership: the Partnership strengthens the cooperation between the Government of Korea and the World Bank Group to develop and share innovative green growth solutions with developing countries.
  • The Rockefeller Foundation (RF): The Rockefeller Foundation strives to promote more inclusive and resilient economies by focusing on four priority areas areas: advance health, revalue ecosystems, secure livelihoods, and transform cities.

Implementation Partners:

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