Best Practices: The Way Forward
Executive Summary of the Best Practices Steering Committee
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:
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.
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.
• the simplification of the submission process to a one-step
• 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.