Urban health promotion is not simply a matter of the right interventions, or even the necessary resources. Urban (and indeed global) health depends to an important extent on governance, the institutions and processes through which societies manage the course of events. This paper describes the concept of governance, distinguishing between reforms aimed at improving how government works and innovations that more fundamentally reinvent governance by developing new institutions and processes of local stakeholder control. The paper highlights strategies urban governors can use to maximize their influence on the national and international decisions that structure urban life. It concludes with some observations on the limitations of local governance strategies and the importance of establishing a "virtuous circuit" of governance through which urban dwellers play a greater role in the formation and implementation of policy at the national and global levels.