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These principles were adopted by the Best Practices Steering Committee at its annual meeting in Madrid, Spain, on 4 June 1999. For more information, please contact: bestpractices@unchs.org

Following are a number of principles that guide the work of the UNCHS Best Practices Partners Network in identifying, documenting and disseminating Best Practices and Local Leadership programs for sustainable community development:

Building Knowledge
Documentation of Best Practices is meant to be in itself a process of empowerment for community based people who are developing the experience. Groups interested in sharing their experience should learn from the process of documenting it. The documentation of the experience, with or without external support, is an opportunity to reflect about how we are doing things, what our visions are and what empowers us, what things are working for the community and which are not, what are ways prople learn, what sustains community networks, who are our partners, and in what circumstances.

Participation is a value that needs to be enhanced and promoted in all our efforts. Gathering information in an inclusive and participatory manner, looking at our experiences from the point of view of all the people involved, and deciding together how to present the experience is important.

Diversity and Language
The Best Practices and Local Leadership Program recognises and respects diversity among all people, which is seen as a source of richness, resources and quality of life. For this reason, the effort of gathering sustainable community practices is happening throughout the globe. In each United Nations region the members of diverse communities and cultures are trying to document approaches and answers to our everyday problems and challenges. Whenever feasible, the documentation of Best Practices should occur in the language native to the initiators of the program, or in one of the four official languages employed by the United Nations. It is recognized, however, that the English language will be the predominant language for global documentation in the electronic media.

The idea of documenting Best Practices is meant to enhance sharing among communities to foster mutual capacity building in face to face exchanges, peer learning, and transfer systems. It is important that grassroot initiators own their information from their experiences and that they promote sharing and horizontal and vertical transfers to other communities.

The experiences documented are the practices of those who carry them out. The credit for, and the inclusion of these experiences in publications, data bases, conferences and other channels of communication and transfer will respect this ownership and create favorable conditions for grassroots participation and ownership in dissemination and implementation processes. The UNCHS and the Best Practices Partners will endeavor to channel all requests and references for information and engagement to the initiators of the practice.

Respectful Partnerships
Respectful relationships and partnerships for the documentation and dissemination of Best Practices is a way of bringing together our strength and that of our alliances. This includes careful consideration of the conditions and principles needed for sustainable partnerships.

People and Nature
Sustainable development requires a rediscovery of a balanced relationship between people and natural systems of the planet. The Best Practices recognition program will seek to identify and transfer knowledge of practices which promote an equitable relationship among all people and between people and nature.

Recognizing that human, natural, and financial resources are limited and distributed in uneven quantities, the Best Practices Partners will continuously strive to access the necessary resources for maintenance and improvement of the knowledge base. The Best Practices recognition program will seek to identify and transfer knowledge of practices which promote an efficient use of resources and which, in particular, promote the conservation of non-renewable natural resources.

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