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Executive Summary

Best Practices: The Way Forward
Executive Summary of the Best Practices Steering Committee Meeting
Held at the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies
Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 4-6 February 1997

UN-Habitat’s Best Practices and Local Leadership Programme (BLP) is a decentralized partnership programme comprised of a global network of leading capacity-building, research and training organisations. Its mandate is to promote the exchange of practical and innovative solutions to some of the most pressing social, economic and environmental challenges of an urbanizing world. The BLP’s Steering Committee recently met to discuss the policies and working modalities that will guide BLP activities through 1998 and beyond. Among the Steering Committee’s key policy recommendations were the following:

Award-driven process
The "Awards for Excellence" offer a crucial incentive to submit experiences and thereby continue to expand the BLP’s knowledge and capacity to identify, analyze and disseminate practical and innovative solutions being implemented around the world. At the same time, however, it must be understood that the Awards are simply a means to an end: the exchange and transfer of knowledge, expertise and experience.

Quality over Quantity
Efforts will be concentrated on improving the quality of existing and new submissions and in extracting lessons learned. Each regional and thematic centre will analyze approximately 10 existing submissions, beginning but not limited to the 104 Best Practices selected for Habitat II, to extract the lessons learned. New submissions will be reviewed separately by two BLP partners and a common framework will be used to provide feedback to improve the clarity of submissions. Furthermore, detailed analysis of selected Best Practices will be undertaken with a view to developing two new types of information products: case-studies under a common theme, such as urban governance; and, executive summaries of key lessons learned.

User Feedback
Crucial to the improved quality of BLP information will be the close monitoring of the database and other information product users. Electronic monitoring of database users will be undertaken to establish who is using the information. A questionnaire will be circulated to identified information users to determine what improvements can be made to enhance the quality of BLP information.

The next logical step following documentation of outstanding initiatives is their transfer. By transfers, however, the BLP means not the replication or "cloning" of initiatives, but the exchange of the knowledge, experience and expertise. UNCHS and its partners will undertake pilot transfers of selected Best Practices with a view to developing tools and methods for facilitating decentralized cooperation and peer-to-peer learning.

Expanding the Network of Partners
Gaps in the existing network of BLP partners were identified for the Arab States, Central and Eastern Europe and South Asia. Additionally, such thematic areas such as transport and energy would have to be addressed. At the same time, however, it was recognized that maximum flexibility regarding the types of partner relationships should be maintained. While full partners would be those committed to the activities specified in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), letters of intent would be required governing the relationships between associate partners and the BLP. Associate partners, it was decided, would be those organisations committed to fulfilling at least one of the four following functions: (i) identification and validation of new submissions; (ii) engaging in the analysis of submissions; (iii) undertaking transfers of Best Practices; and, (iv) disseminating Best Practices information.

Constitution and Bye-laws for the Steering Committee
It was recognized that the inevitable growth of the BLP network requires a carefully managed framework and it was recommended that a constitution and set of bye-laws governing the Steering Committee be drafted and that legal advice be sought.

Use of Information Technology
In order to facilitate the decentralized operation of the BLP network of regional and thematic centres, the BLP will make use of an Intranet. Using the connectivity and economy of the World-Wide-Web, partners will be able to evaluate new submissions, work on documents in progress, coordinate activities with other partners and exchange information of common interest and benefit to all partners.

Other recommendations

• the simplification of the submission process to a one-step procedure;
• the revision of the reporting format to include a guide to submitting best practices and examples of well-documented submissions;
• the need to harmonize Internet home-pages; and,
•the need for a common media/information dissemination strategy.

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