Overview of the Best Practices Knowledge Management Framework


Nov 6, 2013 (4 years and 8 months ago)



Overview of the Best Practices Knowledge Management Framework

Nicholas You & Angela Waceke and Charles Wambua
, Best Practices and Policies,


The original call for Best Practices was launched as part of the preparatory process for t
Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) as a means of identifying
solutions to some of the most pressing social, economic and environmental problems facing an
urbanizing world. The international community defined what constitu
tes a best practice and
adopted guidelines for their documentation and dissemination. The Habitat Agenda, adopted by
all Member States of the United Nations, further decided that best practices be used as one of the
two key instruments for monitoring and a
ssessing progress in achieving sustainable urban

The Best Practices and Local Leadership Programme (BLP) was established as a
result of that decision. It is made up of a global network of public, private and civil society
organizations devote
d to the sharing and exchange of lessons learned from experience. This
paper provides an overview of the concepts, definitions, methods and lessons learned to date.

What are Best Practices?

The United Nations General Assembly defined best practices as
“initiatives which have made
outstanding contributions to improving quality of life in cities and communities.” More
specifically, the General Assembly defined best practices as successful initiatives which:


Have a demonstrable and tangible impact on imp
roving people’s quality of life;


Are the result of effective partnerships between the public, private and civic sectors of


Are socially, culturally, economically and environmentally sustainable.

These three basic criteria have since been expanded

to include additional considerations in light
of emerging issues and trends and in order to better differentiate between good and best
practices. These are:
leadership and community empowerment; innovation within the local
context; gender equality and soc
ial inclusion; and transferability.

Best Practices are used and promoted by UNHABITAT and its partners as a means of:


Improving public policy based on what works;


Raising awareness of decision
makers at all levels and of the general public of potential

solutions to common social, economic and environmental problems;


Assessing emerging issues, trends and policy responses;


Sharing and transferring expertise and experience through networking and peer


Nicholas You is Chief, Best Practices and Policies Section and the Co
nator of the Best Practices and Local
Leadership Programme. Angela Waceke and Charles Wambua are consultants and researchers working with the
Best Practices and Local Leadership Programme.


The other key instrument is the use of urban indicators


How are Best Practices Identified a
nd Documented?

Initiatives are identified and documented through three principle means:


Targeted search by a global network of institutions representing all spheres of government,
the private and civil society sectors;


Calls for best practices using the
incentive of the biennial Dubai Award for Best Practices as
well as collaboration with other award and recognition systems;


Ongoing research and development.

Best Practices are documented by the people, communities and organizations that are directly
lved in their implementation. These stakeholders include all spheres of government, the
private and civil society sectors, professional associations, etc.

The documentation of Best Practices is intended to be a capacity building exercise as well as an
ercise in self
appraisal. The global network of Best Practices partners plays an important role
in this process, especially with regards to smaller municipalities, non
governmental and
based organizations.

The backbone of the documentation pro
cess is the use of a
standardized reporting format
. This
format is the product of consensus between all partners of the network. The format evolves over
time in function of lessons learned as well as in response to emerging issues and trends. The

format is essential to:


Facilitating the hand
holding and capacity building functions of partners, as all partners
participated in its development;


Developing and disseminating a common set of guidelines;


Facilitating the assessment process;


Enabling com
parative analysis and the identification of lessons learned.

The combined use of a common set of criteria and a standardized reporting format has been
particularly useful in identifying and analyzing lessons learned in terms of:


How people and communitie
s perceive their problems and what empowers them to
undertake or initiate change;


What are the obstacles that people and their communities face and what are the approaches
that are particularly effective in overcoming them;


What are the respective roles
, responsibilities and contributions of different social actors and


What are the contributing factors in sustaining an initiative, and conversely, what are the
mitigating factors that cause initiatives to die out or fail;


Promising policy options
, effective institutional frameworks and governance.


sions from least develop countries are provided with feedback on their submissions. Submissions that do
not qualify are also provided with explanations. Promising but non
qualifying practices are often posted on the BLP


How are best practices assessed?

The Best Practices and Local Leadership Programme uses a “soft” evaluation approach. This
approach involves a three
step process of (i) validation; (ii) technical ass
essment; and (iii)
normative assessment.

validation process

involves the global network of partners as well as
ad hoc

and individuals representing relevant geographic and/or thematic expertise and experience. This
stage is designed to v
erify that the information submitted is an accurate reflection of reality and
whether the submission complies with the three basic criteria and the reporting format. The
validation process relies heavily on information communication technology including th
e use of
a dedicated Intranet.

Technical appraisal

is undertaken by an independent committee comprising of up to 15
regionally representative and gender
sensitive experts. This committee meets physically and its
task is to differentiate between “good” and

“best”. The committee looks at each practice from the
following perspectives:


Compliance with the three basic criteria of impact, partnerships, and sustainability;


Compliance with additional considerations of leadership and community empowerment;
ation; gender equality and social inclusion; and transferability;


Absolute merit within a national and/or local context;


Relative merit in comparison to other practices from the same region or in the same
thematic area.

The Committee's brief is to iden
tify approximately 100 best practices from an average of 550
submissions every two years. It is also charged with the task of identifying a short list of not
more than forty equally meritorious initiatives. The short
listed practices are forwarded to an
dependent Jury that uses a similar approach in deciding on award
winning practices. Short
listed practices are used extensively for research and analysis.

Best Practices and Knowledge Management

Documented and peer
reviewed best practices are used exten
sively by the United Nations for a
wide variety of purposes. The Habitat Agenda, in particular, identified best practices as an
important means of supporting policy analysis and development; the systematic sharing and
exchange of knowledge, expertise and e
xperience; and as an effective means of learning and
capacity building. The strategic objectives of the Habitat Agenda further identified awareness
building; networking; partnerships; decentralized forms of co
operation and the use of
tion technologies as important means of support to the implementation
of national and local action plans.

These strategic objectives have been integrated into a Best Practices and Policies knowledge
management framework. This framework evolves over time i
n function of emerging issues and
trends and as a result of lessons learned. Figure 1 provides an overview of this system.


Awareness building

Awareness building is an important part of any development process and an essential component
for policy develop
ment. UNHABITAT and its partners consider award and recognition systems
as a highly effective means of awareness building. In the case of international award systems
such as the Dubai International Award for Best Practices, UNDP’s Equator Initiative, the
tockholm Challenge, etc., outreach to decision makers as well as to the general public can reach
hundreds of millions of people with each cycle. In the case of national award and recognition
systems, such as the Galing Pook Award in the Philippines, the
pumelelo Award of South
Africa, the Spanish National Committee for Habitat Awards and the Caixa Municipal Best
Practices Award

in Brazil, outreach typically can include most if not all relevant government
agencies, local authorities and professional and ci
vil society organisations. The awareness of
what works and the practical focus of good or best practices are often particularly well suited for
press and media reports and investigative journalism. Award and recognition systems provide the
incentive for pe
ople, their communities and organisations to share their practices which would
otherwise remain known only to a limited audience.

Figure 1: Best Practices Knowledge Management Framework


Target Audiences/




Informed public


Media professionals


Dubai Award (DIABP)

ICLEI Local Initiatives

Stockholm Challenge Award

UNDP Equator Initiative

UNEP Success Stories

Networking & Information

Decision and policy

ng professionals

Training and Leadership
development institutions

Best Practice Databases




Learning tools and capacity

Training and leadership
development institutions

Local authority associa

Professional associations

Best Practice Case studies

Best Practice Casebooks

Issue briefs and articles

Training materials

Peer learning and C2C

Local authority associations

Networks of NGOs/CBOs

International organisations


and bi

Transfer guides, methods and

Match supply/demand for

Conferences & seminars

Advisory services

Policy Development

makers at all

Policy advocacy groups

National governments

International and inter
Database on urban policies
and enabling legislation

Policy trends and responses

Normative guidelines

State of the World’s Cities


governmental organi


Information Exchange and Networking

The use of a standardized reporting format lends itself particularly wel
l for establishing
searchable and user
friendly databases. In the case of UNHABITAT and UNDP, the database is
both web
based and on CD
Rom. The use of ICT allows for full Boolean searches by theme,
category, partners involved, scale of intervention, key wo
rds, region, etc. The incorporation of
names and addresses of the proponents of the good or best practices further allows for
networking. For UNHABITAT, the development and maintenance of a fully searchable database
has proven to be very useful tool for co
mparative analysis and the analysis of emerging issues,
trends, potential policy responses and lessons learned. In order to enhance the value added
dimension of the database, additional information pertaining to the socio
economic and political
context of
the practices is presently being implemented.

The temptation to design databases to serve all purposes is, however, not practical. For this
reason, UNHABITAT does not attempt to assign learning or other objectives to the database.
Users of the database ar
e informed of new additions, new developments and by
products through
electronic and printed newsletters. Simple Q&A facilities are provided through a listserv. There
are currently four newsletters published by different partners, reaching out to over 50,0
institutions and organisations, a majority of which are government agencies and local authorities.

At present, UNHABITAT’s Best Practices Database contains 1600 practices from 140 countries
in 24 thematic categories. Active links to other databases pr
ovides the user with access to over
2500 practices from 160 countries.

Every two years an average of 400 new peer
practices are included in the database as well as an average of 70 updates of previously submitted

Practices that are no
t updated after six years are archived but remain retrievable by the
user with the user being advised that the information is outdated and may be no longer reliable.
The database is visited by an average of 200,000 users per month. The majority of users ar
professional and non
governmental organisations, followed by government agencies, educational
institutions and individuals.

Since 2000, UNHABITAT has also developed a new product specifically targeting decision and
policy makers. Known as Best Practic
e Briefs, this product consists of one
third to one
half page
summaries of selected practices in thematic areas which are in the greatest demand. Since their
inception, the briefs have become very popular.


Including UNDP’s databas
e in best practices in biodiversity and ICLEI’s database on local initiatives.


The validation and selection process typically eliminates approximately 30% of submissions.


User identify is becoming increasingly difficult with the proliferation of differ
ent domain extensions and does not
provide an accurate picture of category of users.


Learning and Capacity Building

As mentioned abov
e, the database cannot and should not serve all purposes. For this reason,
UNHABITAT and its partners have developed a range of value added products including
monographs, in
depth case studies, and casebooks. Best Practice briefs are also systematically
ncluded in training and management development tools and materials. These products are
designed for use by
ad hoc

training and leadership development targeting policy makers and
practitioners. Some of the casebooks developed by partners also target the inf
ormed public.

Since its inception, the Best Practices and Local Leadership Programme has also been directly
and indirectly involved in the organisation of conferences, seminars and workshops on Learning
from Best Practices. Direct involvement includes the

sponsorship of one international conference
a year on a specified topic where 10 to 12 practices are selected to present lessons learned from
experience. Indirect involvement includes substantive inputs and support to approximately six
international, regi
onal or national conferences and policy seminars a year focusing on specific
topics and catering to specific target groups (decision makers, practitioners, community leaders,
etc.). Best Practice partners, in turn, organise in their respective areas of exp
ertise, an average of
3 or 4 conferences per annum. Partners representing educational and training institutions have
also incorporated best practices into their regular curriculum.

Technical Co

As an advocacy agency, UNHABITAT provides advisory

services and technical assistance. The
Best Practices and Local Leadership Programme focuses its activities on decentralised co
operation and peer
peer learning. It supports associations of local authorities and umbrella
governmental organisations
in the matching of supply with demand for expertise and
experience. A set of guidelines on “Transferring Effective Practices” has been developed in
collaboration with UNDP and Citynet, the latter being a local government association covering
the Asia and P
acific region. These guidelines have since been adapted by other partners for use
in Spanish
speaking Latin America and the Caribbean and in French
speaking Africa.

The Best Practices and Local Leadership Programme defines such transfers as a structured
rocess of learning based on the use of ‘knowledge derived from real
world experience together
with the human expertise capable of transforming that knowledge into action.’ This concept of
transfer highlights the identification and awareness of successful
solutions, the matching of
demand for learning with supply of expertise, and a series of steps that need to be taken to help
bring about desired change. The scope of change may cover policy reform, management and
governance systems, technology, attitudes a
nd behaviour.

This value added service is best provided by professional associations and/or umbrella NGOs.
Their knowledge of and proximity to their respective communities place them in a good position
to match a best practice or set of practices with t
he contextual conditions from which the demand
emanates. This form of co
operation includes three forms of transfer: (i) guided or structured
study tours involving an intermediary such as a training or capacity
building institution; (ii) staff
exchanges, p
rimarily at the practitioner level; and (iii) city
city cooperation involving the


transfer of both expertise and the implementation of demonstration projects which may involve
financial support.

Policy Development

Policy change and development is the

ultimate objective of the Best Practices and Local
Leadership Programme. The scaling up of good or best practices and their eventual replication
depends to a large extent on the creation of a more enabling policy and/or legislative
environment whereby inn
ovative approaches, methods and ideas can flourish and are not
quashed by business
usual or bureaucratic resistance to change. Three different types of
approaches are used to support policy change, including:


The analysis of issues, trends and lessons
learned from all of the abovementioned products and
services, namely awareness
building, networking and information change, learning and
technical co
operation. The results and observations of the analysis are presented to and
discussed by inter
al committees and commissions, such as the Governing Council
for Human Settlements. These policy papers specifically target decision makers at the highest
level and provide the substance for decisions, resolutions and policy recommendations to be
adopted b
y the international community and by national/local governments.


The substantive research required to undertake [1] above is further developed and
disseminated in the form of technical papers and guidelines targeting government officials,
professional ass
ociations and non
governmental organisations. Every two years lessons
learned from Best Practices also form part of UNHABITAT’s flagship publications on “State
of the World Cities Report” and the “Global Report on Human Settlements”.


The documentation and

dissemination of good urban policies and enabling legislation. This
initiative, started in 2002, is designed to complement the best practices database by providing
matching sets of policies/laws and practices. The pilot phase will be completed in 2004
olving up to 15 sets of policies and practices in such areas as local governance and
decentralisation, gender equality and social inclusion, crime prevention and social justice, and
local finance.

A further development due to start in 2004 is
. This new initiative will attempt to
match sets of best practices and good policies with indicators to provide a combination of soft
and hard data to better inform decision and policy makers. Whereas documented best practices
can provide an immediately us
eable source of information to inspire decision and policy makers,
and is germane to the political process, indicators are designed to provide a longer
term picture
of trends and issues that are essential to planning. The Urban Indicators programme of
BITAT has been collecting hard data at five
year intervals since 1996, resulting in a first
time series in 2002. Approximately 50 cities now have sets of indicators and practices and will
be subject to a pilot benchmarking exercise.

Impact of the BL
P Knowledge Management Framework and Lessons Learned


The strength of the BLP Knowledge Management Framework lies in the involvement of a global
network of partner institutions representing all major stakeholders in urban development.
UNHABITAT’s role is e
ssentially that of a coordinator, ensuring the cross
fertilisation of
methods and concepts. This enables the Programme to compare lessons learned across a wide
spectrum of themes, actors and socio
economic and political contexts. Partners, in turn, benefit

from collective knowledge, expertise and experience.

The use of transparent criteria and the adoption of a standardised reporting format has enabled
the BLP to integrate new issues and themes while maintaining a set of generic questions that
allow for t
he comparative analysis of practices covering very different sectors, involving
different actors and scales of intervention. The most significant impact of the framework is most
probably the adoption by several governments, institutions and organisations o
f the basic
framework while adding additional criteria and questions to suit their particular needs. Examples
at the international level include UNDP’s Equator Initiative, UNEP’s success stories initiative
and the Commonwealth Secretariat. At the national
level, the governments of China, India and
Spain have been using the framework since 1998. All three governments had their own best
practice systems but have since adopted the BLP system and are applying it to national capacity
building and policy developm
ent activities.

In the case of Brazil, the Caixa Economica Federal has adopted the framework to establish a
knowledge management system for its municipal lending programme and as a means of
informing policy making and development at the national level.

Several local authority associations are in the process of harmonising their approaches with the
framework of the BLP. These include the Philippine Leagues of Cities; the local government
associations of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda; ICLEI, Metropolis and

Several umbrella non
governmental and community
based organisations have also adapted the
system to their own needs. Examples include ENDA Tiers Monde and its extensive network in
Africa, the Huairou Commission with its 400+ grassroots women’s g
roups in all regions of the
world, the International Council for Caring Communities regarding issues of older persons, and
Youth for Habitat.

All of these institutions and networks share their working methods, case studies, lessons learned
and tools. This

allows UNHABITAT and its partners to continuously develop and refine generic
terms of reference and guidelines that can be used by an increasing number and range of
institutions and to achieve collective efficiency.

Another tangible impact of the framew
ork has been its ability to mobilise the media. The
biennial award system provides the written press, radio and television with a source of positive
news and the raw material for investigative journalism. It is estimated that every two years the
award sys
tem mobilises media groups in over 100 countries to report on best practices.

Finally, best practices can be easily used to inform the political process. With the widespread
adoption of democratically elected government, decision making, especially at the

local level, is
increasingly shaped by perceptions and soft information. Best Practices constitute an excellent


source of information that can be used by decision makers and by the general public. They can
inspire change and innovation and provide an easi
ly accessible source of tried and tested ideas.

Peer learning and exchanges remain one of the most effective means of transferring lessons
learned from good and best practices as the perceived risk inherent to all change can best be
overcome by the testi
mony of a peer who has successfully implemented change.


Annex I

A Sample of Best Practices in Safety, Crime Prevention and Social Justice

Crime Prevention


Training Program in Public Security, Human Rights and Citizenship, Brazil

In Brazil there is
much police arbitrariness, causing aggravation of exclusion and violence. In Amapá, a
former Federal Territory, police behaviour was based on the Armed Forces motto of "defending the
frontiers against invaders". This war
like ideology degenerated into trea
ting the citizen as the enemy.
Furthermore, the police force was badly coordinated and often worked at odds with security departments.

The programme was initiated in 1996. It's objective is to humanize police action by training the police
force to become
aware of and uphold human rights and the exercise of citizenship. The training includes
social psychology, group interaction and self
analyses focusing on changes in behaviour and attitudes
based on the respect of ethical principles of citizenship, defense

and security for the people. It also aims to
provide better integration of different departments involved in the public security system.

The programme led to the adoption and implementation of the following policies and initiatives:


interactive policing

involving civil society in determining priorities for public security;


establishment of an Environmental Battalion responsible for monitoring and preventing
environmental degradation and promoting environmental education;


a unified Public Security syste
m integrating all security departments at all levels to coordinate their
actions and interventions including coordination between the Chief Justice and the Secretary of the
State for Security;


commissioning of the Shock Battalion which was used in the
past to suppress labor unions and
popular manifestations.

The importance of maintaining a systematic network of the trained policemen was recognized as it forms
the basis for the evaluation of the programme. The experiences of those who have undergone the

are taken into consideration by the trainers who shape the next training sessions to address any emerging


Downtown Urban Renewal Intervention

Third Millennium Project, Bogota, Colombia

Third Millennium project is located in downtown B
ogota that has a population of 230,000 of whom 2,500
were homeless. This sector presented the highest indicators of crimes and murders, the lowest life
expectancy, and was identified as a haven for drug pushers and addicts. Initiated in 1998 by City Mayor
Enrique Peñalosa Londoño the project, promoted by the public sector, is aimed at complete urban and
social recovery of the most deteriorated area of the city located at Santa Ines, San Victorino and San
Bernado neighborhoods. The objectives of the project
are to rehabilitate downtown Bogota and promote
social inclusion of citizens, offering a better quality of life to its inhabitants. The strategies employed
included rehabilitation of drug addicts, housing projects, health, education and social welfare prog
that were made accessible to all. The project was divided into phases that outlined different priorities
depending on the needs of the specific community.

This project is the first integrated urban renewal intervention in Bogota, undertaken by the
After consultations with the community in the Santa Ines neighbourhood, the Urban Development
Institute working closely with the Municipal Authorities acquired land from homeowners and businesses


operating in the area who were temporarily reloc
ated to other neighbourhoods. The structures standing on
the earmarked land were demolished; a section of which was dedicated to the creation of a Metropolitan
Park. The San Victorino sector was earmarked for redevelopment of a commercial and economic sect
dubbed "the shopping mall with open sky". The Urban Renewal Program is working with the community
(residents, formal and informal merchants, private organizations), drafting agreements and establishing
laws to guarantee the sustainability of the public

space that is being recovered with joint investments and
encouraging new real
estate developments.

As a result of the initiative, 585 properties have been acquired, 65 percent demolished and a Park opened
to the public. Security improved markedly with 1
,948 drug addicts being treated and rehabilitated.
Education was made available to 1,025 high
risk and socially excluded individuals such as drug addicts,
children, the elderly, and female headed households among others. 260 people have made a transition
rom the informal sector to the formal while 160 families received title deeds to their rehabilitated houses.
Over 5,000 jobs were created during the various phases of construction and health assistance provided to
over 4,000 people. The involvement and coo
rdination of the different actors in the city played a key role
in achieving the set objectives.


Safer Cities: Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Salaam, the largest city and major port of Tanzania, East Africa has a population of approximately
780,000 peop
le. Before 1997, the city accounted for over 25 percent of all crime incidents reported to the
police throughout the country raising fear of victimization among the residents. Safer Cities Dar
Salaam was initiated in March 1997, by UNHABITAT (Habitat) w
ith technical support from the
International Centre for Prevention of Crime (ICPC) in Canada and United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP). The initiative was officially launched on 19 August 1998 aims at coordinating and
strengthening local institutiona
l crime prevention capacity, changing attitudes and promoting a culture of
adherence to the laws and reducing youth unemployment through skills training and cultural activities.

The project works on a bottom
up approach to mobilise the community and loca
l resources in establishing
crime prevention initiatives. Community policing and justice is based on the traditional practice of
"Sungu Sungu". This has decentralised the task of dealing with petty crime to the neighbourhood level
instead of relying on the

conventional justice system, anchoring social justice with community rather than
penal values. The project has been successful in sensitizing community leaders and citizens on the need
for crime prevention initiatives. Many activities have been initiated
in the city, establishing awareness as
well as successfully promoting and utilising the skills and resources of different partners in crime
prevention initiatives. Other cities in Tanzania (Arusha, Mbeya and Morogoro) have approached Safer
Cities Dar
laam for assistance to create and support the development of a Safer Cities Initiative in
their towns and cities.


Brent Council

Working in Partnership for Safer Community, United Kingdom

Brent Council has an ethnically diverse population of over 240,00
0 and covers an area of 43.25 square
kilometers. Prior to the formation of the Community Safety Sub
Committee in 1995, no clear local
political lead for crime prevention existed. There was no budgetary allocation for community safety and
very little partne
rship action with the police and other agencies.

Brent's Crime Prevention and Community Safety partnership brings together different public agencies to
tackle crime and disorder. The priorities of the initiative were to secure top level political and chi
ef officer
support for crime prevention, develop a crime prevention strategy and action plan, secure a significant
budget, and bid for external funding and to consult and involve Brent's ethnically diverse community. The
Brent Council believes that local a
uthorities have a responsibility to citizens to make communities safer


and has led the partnership with the Police, Health Authority, Probation Service, Fire Service, NGOs and
the private sector. The Partnership's objective is to provide a clear strategy a
nd action plan across
agencies to reduce crime and promote a safer community. Bringing agencies together adds value and
targets resources more effectively. The partnership has improved public policy by demonstrating action
that works.

Political support w
as secured for an annual anti
crime budget of £250,000. Successful funding bids were
made to various central government programmes for anti
racism, drug prevention, closed circuit
television (CCTV), youth crime prevention, burglary reduction, crime analysi
s and community
empowerment projects. There has been a very significant improvement in citywide co
ordination between
partner agencies. Brent's crime prevention strategy has influenced local and regional policies as well as
policies in cities in other coun
tries. The initiative has successfully influenced institutional change. Crime
prevention and community safety is now clearly recognized as a corporate responsibility for all Brent
Council directorates and by the Police and partner agencies.

Brent Council
is an Executive Committee member of the European Forum for Urban Safety and has
presented its partnership work and achievements at conferences in Canada, South Africa and Europe. As a
result of the partnership, Brent Council has recorded amongst the lowest

crime levels in the country with
burglary levels reducing by 25 percent. Efforts have been targeted at gender equity (women's safety and
domestic violence), equalities (racial harassment and crime against ethnic minorities), excluded young
people, elders
and unemployed. There has been a very significant improvement in citywide co
between partner agencies. Brent has emphasized sustainability by actively involving the community and
developing "local solutions to local neighbourhood crime problems"
. Brent Council recognizes that crime
is so complex that no single agency can tackle it successfully alone. It also acknowledges the importance
of a clear written strategy and action plan on crime prevention.


Addressing The Multiple Causes Of "Urban Crime

And Violence In Medellin, Colombia

Medellin is one of the most violent cities in the world. In the districts where poverty prevails, this has
meant the need to develop networks to tackle the social causes of violence and crime and the physical
t in which crime prospers.

In Medellin, with a population of 1.8 million, robberies, muggings, kidnappings and murders have
become part of normal life. In 1990 there were 15 violent deaths per day, a sharp increase from 4 deaths a
day in 1982. In addition
, Medellin is a centre for drug cartels, with high rates of drug use. Young people
are especially affected, their lives shaped by violence, drugs and crime. About half of Medellin's
unemployed are youths and young adults between 15 and 25 years of age. Yet

it is not only
unemployment that is responsible for the high level of violence, but also the breakdown of family, school
and local communities. In the early 1990s, there were hundreds of projects and youth initiatives in the
urban areas of Medellin,
but they worked in isolation from one another and were not able to achieve
structural change.

For this reason Programme for Institutional and Social Support of Youth in Medellin (PAISAJOVEN)
was founded in 1994, with support from GTZ (the German Technical

Cooperation Agency).
PAISAJOVEN is a network of about 50 organisations, including representatives of youth organisations,
NGOs, the municipal administration, the city council, the school board, municipal organisations,
vocational training facilities, the
urban youth council, universities, churches and employers' associations.
Its general objective is to improve and diversify the programmes and services that public and private
institutions offer to young people. The network coordinates youth work in peri
ban areas and offers
participating organisations advisory and training programmes to expand and improve on
going activities
for unemployed young people, single mothers, drug
users and drug
related criminals.


Young people can also come directly to PAISAJOV
EN for information about vocational training and the
job market. It specifically supports projects that are initiated by young people and based on their own
motivation, potential, interests, and perception of their own immediate reality.

The network has i
mproved coordination and integration between previously separated organisations,
around seven issue
related sub
networks: municipal youth policy, drug addiction, training, labour market
opportunities, coexistence and participation in schools, youth activit
ies coordination, and pedagogical
consultancy. It has also improved the capacity of individuals and organisations working with youth by
providing training to 500 people in 70 organisations and 120 people from 26 organisations from other
cities in Colombia.

Its training activities were consolidated into a School for the Training of Youth
Coordinators, which has provided consultancy services to similar initiatives in Paraguay, Guatemala,
Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.

While PAISAJOVEN has been mainly

financed through international and municipal contributions, almost
30 percent of its finance now comes from revenue from its advisory and training services, co
projects, and the membership fee paid by members of the network. One initial barrier f
was the diversity of its membership with many of the organisations failing to agree on a common set of
issues. Related to that was the difficulty in establishing the 'institutional setting' for the initiative, with the
municipality pushing at
first to have direct executive powers, which raised the risk of the initiative being
controlled by local politicians. Under the final agreement, however, the mayor of Medellin presides over a
wide, diversified executive board. This arrangement has seen PAI
SAJOVEN 'survive' three municipal
administrations, but permanent lobbying with the local government is necessary to guarantee the stability
of this compromise.

In another programme to address the city's critical insecurity under the impact of narco
c, the local
government embarked (in 1990) on a broad consultation and diagnosis process. A wide range of issues
and programme areas was mapped out, including promotion of citizenship and citizen participation,
peaceful cohabitation, education, employment
and income generation, and the urban environment. These
were developed into two complementary programmes

PRIMED and Urban Centres for Civic Life in
Low Income Areas. PRIMED (Integrated Programme for the Improvement of Informal Settlements)
focuses on im
proving the quality of living for some 200,000 people living in 70 peri
urban districts. The
programme is based on increased public participation in urban renewal, improving streets and roads,
water and sewage, schools, health facilities and recreation op
portunities, renovating apartments and
assisting residents in clarifying and legalizing titles to ownership. So far, 4,000 houses have been
improved, 3,800 properties legalized, almost 30,000 m of roads and pedestrian walkways paved, and
20,000 m of aquedu
cts, drainage and hydraulic works provided, as well as 100 classrooms, parks, sport
facilities, and health centres. The approaches developed by PRIMED are integrated into the municipal
administration, and the project is now incorporated in the Strategic Pl
an for Medellin Metropolitan Area
2015. Important principles of PRIMED, such as participatory planning, found their way into new
legislation for urban reform (1997) and are being applied in other cities in Colombia. The Urban Centres
for Civic Life is a co
mplementary initiative to PRIMED, focusing on community building. With militias
and delinquency controlling the 'barrios', community organisation had weakened through the years. The
programme addresses the absence of public and community spaces and the lac
k of neighbourhood identity
by establishing community centres. Two primary centres have been built and are operating, along with
eleven secondary neighbourhood sub
centres. Some 16,000 people have benefited directly from
education, culture, social and yout
h programmes. The greatest impact was achieved through the creation
of an Inter
Centres Community Committee, which allowed for a clear and effective dialogue to be
established with the local government. The experience of Medellin demonstrates how networkin
g can
help foster mutually supportive approaches of a large number of organisations and initiatives to bring
about changes to critical and apparently intractable social and economic problems.



Take Back the Park, New York, USA

"Take Back The Park" represe
nts a creative departure from previous youth programming in that it is the
first project of its kind in New York City that gives young people
all high
risk youth
a lead role in
motivating peers and adults in reclaiming community recreational space from d
rug dealers. "Take Back
the Park" was initiated in 1987 by a group of youth that sought to provide positive recreational, cultural,
and educational activities for young people and adults during the summer months. Every summer, "Take
Back The Park" mobilize
s one or more New York City neighbourhoods to reclaim a local park that has
been taken away from the community by drug dealing, vandalism, and/or substance abuse. The program
mobilizes and trains community coalitions, including representatives from youth,
police, parks
department personnel, community
based agencies, tenants associations and community boards in
collaborative community planning. Skilled and experienced youth work with neighbourhood young
people to design and co
ordinate "Take Back The Park" a
ctivities, conduct neighbourhood needs
assessment surveys, and develop a network between community youth and community police officers.
Participating youth are provided with 25 hours of youth leadership and community organising skills
training, including t
opics such as program planning, outreach, community problem
solving and strategies
for addressing drug trafficking and substance abuse. All 15 of each "Take Back the Park" efforts remain
in action today.

Social Justice


Bringing Judicial Reform in Line Wi
th Environmental Concerns, Bolivia

Since 1993, Bolivia has been pursuing a comprehensive reform of its judicial system, to make it more
independent, transparent, accessible and efficient. The Lawyers Committee for human Rights, an
based NGO, has
initiated a review of this process, selecting environmental law as its entry
point, for a number of reasons.

First, the objective of judicial reform is to bring about adequate enforcement of public law. This is in
many respects analogous to the question o
f how to best preserve and ensure 'public goods', first and
foremost among which is the environment. In this sense, protection of the environment is intrinsically an
area of public interest law. A judiciary's support of

or lack of concern with environmen
tal protection
sends a strong signal about how well and impartially the judiciary functions in general. Second, the
underlying question in reform is how to open the judicial system to private citizens, and especially to
permit them, through the use of publ
ic interest law tools, to contribute to the enforcement of laws and
policies. NGOs

and perhaps human rights and environmental groups in particular, who often represent
affected citizens,

have an important perspective on judicial reform, and a practical
sense of how the day
day users of the legal system view the need for improvement.

Thus there is a two
way relationship between judicial reform and environmental concerns. On the one
hand judicial reform can improve the ability of citizens to defend 'pu
blic goods' and the environment
through better access to legal systems. Also, the experience of users of the judicial system, often
represented by NGOs or public interest lawyers, can make a valuable contribution to the identification of
reform needs and p
riorities. To establish such a relationship, the Lawyers Committee and the League for
Defense of the Environment (Liga de Defensa del Medio

LIDEMA) organised a workshop on
'The Enforcement of Environmental Laws in the Framework of Judicial Refor
m in Bolivia' in 1998. The
workshop used case studies of legal actions brought to enforce environmental laws to identify obstacles to
such enforcement from a public interest perspective. The lessons from these experiences were analysed
and a number of refo
rms were suggested which include:



Allowing environmental groups or directly affected individuals the right to bring or join legal
enforcement actions or to press the government to meet its obligations;


Ensuring that the cost of legal actions is not excessi
ve, particularly for those of limited means,
thereby making it easier for environmental NGOs to support civil cases on behalf of individuals or
groups who suffer material damage from violation of an environmental law;


Training for judges and prosecutors on

environmental principles in general and on the provisions of
Bolivian environmental laws in particular;


Consideration of the establishment of a special court, with specialized judges, with jurisdiction over
environmental cases.

The workshop showed how th
e perspective of one group of users of a judicial system can lead to a better
understanding of what is needed to strengthen that system. The focus on environmental justice was
particularly informative in testing the strength of a judicial system in deliver
ing justice around public


Community Watch Against Domestic and Gender Violence, Cebu City, Philippines

Cebu City, covering an area of 329 square kilometers, has a population of 610,417. It is the regional
capital of Central Visayas and lies at the

heart of the Philippine archipelago, 568 kilometers south of
Manila. The city has a literacy rate of 97 percent, however, illiteracy rates among females (3.4 percent)
are higher compared to males' (2.8 percent). The Bantay Banay concept or "Family/Communi
ty Watch
Group Against Domestic and Gender Violence" was conceived in January 31, 1992 in Cebu City by
participants to a Forum where it was revealed that 60 percent of the women were battered by their
spouses. The initial approach was to involve the commun
ity members in order to respond and reduce
cases of domestic violence. The group members, who include lawyers, regularly met to share experiences
and review their objectives and activities. Victims who later become members are afforded temporary
shelter, f
ood, medical care and legal assistance. Community members receive training on gender issues,
applicable laws and legal process, crisis intervention and mediation and are involved in networking and
advocacy with government agencies, administration, sponsors

and policy makers has been instrumental in
ensuring success of the programme. A survey on domestic violence was conducted and results presented
to an interagency council for basic urban services (UNICEF sponsored). Members of the council created a
task fo
rce that was later named Bantay Banay. The task force negotiated with the city hospital for free
laboratory services to victims during medico
legal check up. The group approached the mayor for funds
to train police personnel on gender sensitivity while the

City Health Department was involved in training
women on health issues.

Intervention programmes include isolating victims from abusive environment, affording them medical,
legal and financial support to get back on their feet. The Bantay Banay programme

has been replicated in
60 cities and municipalities throughout the Philippines. Many of the member groups were financially
sponsored to build their capacity to respond to such cases. Direct response to victims is the responsibility
of these partner agenci
es. In Cebu city alone, 50 out of 80 barangays (wards) have their own Bantay
Banay volunteers who respond to cases and refer them to appropriate authorities. The Bantay Banay
council has succeeded in lobbying for retention of the Gender Development Budget
allocation by the
municipality. The group has also been instrumental in lobbying for enactment/revision of the anti
law, sexual harassment law and pro
women laws.

The overall group activities currently involve 1,500 community volunteers in Cebu City

and Bantay
Banay. On average 2,000 cases are handled annually by the groups network. Women's rights as human
rights are recognized and a 'Gender and Development code' has been passed providing for protection of
women victims of violence in the Philippines
. The most important lessons from this program are that


good governance results from the interplay of the many actors. Government alone cannot do it without
participation of the people.



Preventing Homelessness in Vienna, Austria

Vienna is the c
apital city of Austria with a population of 1.65 million. During the 1980s, the number of
the homeless in Vienna increased sharply. More and more women and children as well as persons with
regular jobs became homeless, exacerbated by problems such as alcoh
ol and drug abuse. Before FAWOS
started its work in 1996, two thirds of all scheduled evictions from dwellings were actually carried out. In
Vienna alone, 20,000 cases on rent default were brought before the court each year. Almost half of these
cases resu
lt in a verdict allowing the landlords to evict tenants from their premises. As a result, each year
some 4,000 families lost their apartments and had to look for new homes or seek refuge in shelters. Debts,
low income and other financial problems are the m
ost common causes of evictions in Vienna.

In response, FAWOS offers a standardized procedure and rapid, efficient help to persons facing eviction.
Under the current legal provisions, the district courts notify FAWOS of court
issued execution titles and
eviction dates relating to dwellings. Measures to help clients retain their dwellings include: counseling on
legal aspects; information on available financial support and client entitlement to benefits; household
planning; short
term, intensive social work

and ad hoc financial support. The Volkshilfe Wien charity was
the organising body for the pilot project. The project was financed using resources earmarked for housing
research while the Local Authority provided staff to work on the project. Compared with

the 1995 figures,
FAWOS succeeded in reducing evictions from 61 percent of cases to 36.5 percent in the first year and 25
percent in the following years. In 67 percent of all cases of eviction, FAWOS was able to provide the
evicted tenants with a council
flat through the Social Necessities Unit. FAWOS was instrumental in
lobbying for amendment of the Tenancy Law (Article 34/3) to require notification as soon as eviction
proceedings are instituted. The amendment of the legal provisions saw the extension of
time limit for
appeals against lease terminations from two to four weeks. In 2000 the intended repeal of the Tenancy
Act, to incorporate oppressive clauses, by the Government was abandoned after intensive lobbying by
FAWOS and other social institutions in

FAWOS is an excellent example demonstrating how civil society organisations can effectively work
together with government offices at the local level. This case emphasizes the fundamental role of access
to information in improving people's lives
and to involving them in decision
making processes. This case
also demonstrates the potential of enabling approach (promotion of self
help) as well as efforts to
reduce/prevent discrimination in the housing sector, particularly in the prevention of evictio
ns. Since
1998, FAWOS has extended its activities from two Viennese districts to the whole city. While prevention
of homelessness in buildings owned by the City of Vienna (220,000 dwellings) is now the responsibility
of the Municipal Department for social
concerns, FAWOS is working with the inhabitants of privately
owned buildings and buildings owned by housing associations (530,000 dwellings). The scaling up of the
program to the whole city shows the same encouraging success as the pilot project.


Union de



When the City of Los Angeles threatened to demolish their homes in 1996, women from two of the
poorest housing estates in Los Angeles organized Union de Vecinos. Union de Vecinos is both a tool and
a place of transformation. It encourages
and supports those women who are mobilizing their neighbors to
take control of their livelihoods, and it offers them a space to tell their stories. As mothers, wives and
workers, they have created a place where they can educate each other, build social and

alternatives, become empowered to combat threats to their communities.


In its four years of existence, Union de Vecinos has been successful in expanding its impact to four other
housing projects. It has trained 12 residents as community organiz
ers. It is producing a bilingual
newsletter for its Black and Latino constituency. It has given a voice to poor, immigrant women. And,
most importantly, it has succeeded in imposing a moratorium on the demolition of low
income housing in
Los Angeles.

ncipal achievements:


the initiative gave an effective voice to low
income immigrant women and encouraged them to take
control of their own housing and neighborhoods;


the initiative promotes social inclusion and the empowerment of poor women and their fam
affording them leadership roles in a country of adoption;


an array of local, national and international partnerships have been established further strengthening
the sustainability of the Union's activities;


the initiative provides an instrument fo
r other low
income neighborhoods in other inner cities and in
other countries where public authorities adopt demolition of housing estates as a quick and dirty fix to
underlying problems of social exclusion and poverty;


the initiative resulted in a change

of policy of the city of Los Angeles

Information dissemination was central to the success of the initiative as it increased the trust established
and raised awareness on the plight of the organization. The influence of the media was recognized early

advantage was taken of the print and audiovisual media.


Information Centers As New Social Institutes For The Empowerment Of Women And Habitat
Agenda Promotion, Russia

Changes in the political and economical life of The Russian Federation impacted greatl
y on women in the
sociopolitical and economical spheres. Russian women were faced with unemployment, low salaries,
domestic violence and sex trafficking. The State Government adopted a National Plan of Action for
Advancement of Women which has no state fin
ancial backing and little impact.

The Information Centre for the Independent Women's Forum (ICIWF) was formed in 1994 by several
women's organizations which was to act as the main resource center in Russia. The mission of ICIWF is
to promote the transfor
mation of society, culture and the economy on a non
discriminatory basis as well
as the advancement of women in transition countries. ICIWF provides information exchange and regular
consultations for women, women's organizations, gender researchers, women
in local communities and
governance bodies. ICIWF supports the activities for the empowerment of women and assists in
providing solutions to the problems that women face. ICIWF is tasked with coordinating international
conferences, workshops and semin
ars. The coordination center is also responsible for presenting
experiences of women's organisations in Russia at international conferences. In addition, the ICIWF
provides analysis of women's issues and offers a library of translations of otherwise inacce
international literature on such topics as ‘Women's Rights’, ‘Violence Against Women’, ‘Sex
Trafficking’, ‘Women’s Health’, ‘Ecology’, ‘Children’, ‘Family’, ‘Housing Reform’, ‘Self
help’, and
others. ICIWF also holds seminars and training courses in

different towns on housing reform, sustainable
governance, and neighborhood development. In these towns practical results were achieved, for
instance, in Petrozavodsk 13 neighbourhood communities were created, engaging community members in
making dec
isions regarding their neighbourhood. In Saratov, the Association of Self
Governance created
a mother’s and gender centre within the locality. Good partnership was established between local
authorities and women’s organizations in Chelyabinsk.

Due to the

established cooperation and partnership with Ministries (Ministry of Labour and Social
Development, Ministry for Construction (Gosstroy), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Office of the President),


ICIWF transfers information from the federal level to the loca
l level and vice versa. This information
exchange has proven to be very crucial in the empowerment of women at all levels.


Citizen Action for Justice and Democracy, Santiago, Chile

Between 1990
2000, the governments in Chile were undergoing democratizati
on. During the same
period, the Corporation of University Promotion did a study on the relationship between access to justice
and poverty eradication, which illustrated access to justice from the poor people's perception. It became
apparently clear that
a large portion of the citizens, especially those falling within the poverty bracket, did
not have access to justice or had a distrust of the Chilean Justice system. The citizens did not perceive the
Justice administrative system as oriented towards solvin
g problems in society. The system was viewed as
being dominated by functional lethargy, arbitrariness, inefficiency, discriminatory and confrontational
and incoherent with no harmonization with the process of democratization and modernization that the
try was experiencing.

To overcome these anomalies, FORJA, an NGO initiated a consultative process to bring justice closer to
the poor people. The project aimed at training justice operators and strengthening civic education, avails
information on citizen
s' rights, improving the quality of life for the poor, and facilitating access to justice.
To achieve this a community organization (Neighborhood Legal Consultant Group) were established. It
provides legal training to social community leaders.

FORJA then

brought together the local municipalities, government agencies, grass
roots organizations
and other private non
governmental institutions that formed a partnership. A training of trainers (TOT) on
administration of local justice and conflict resolution wa
s then provided to the community leaders. The
Neighbourhood Legal Consultant Groups act as a socialization agent for new forms of conflict resolution
and for the fulfillment of needs through respectful and peaceful means at the neighborhood level. To
her strengthen the process a Community Associations of Legal Leaders was legally constituted. This
project has increased the level of citizen participation within civil society.