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					Implementation of the Habitat Agenda




Setting up an
Urban Observatory

A Guide to Joining
The Global Urban Observatory Network




Better information… for better cities
                       THE HABITAT AGENDA1[1]


           We commit ourselves to implementing the Habitat

           Agenda, through local, national, sub-regional and

           regional plans of action and/or other policies and

           programmes drafted and executed in cooperation

           with interested parties at all levels and supported by

           the international community.… [37]




           All partners of the Habitat Agenda, including local

           authorities, the private sector and communities,

           should regularly monitor and evaluate their own

           performances in the implementation of the Habitat

           Agenda through comparable human settlements

           and shelter indicators and documented best

           practices…. [240]




1.   Numbers in [brackets] refer to paragraph numbers in the official version of the Habitat Agenda.
Such [indicators and best practices] information,

which should be available and accessible to all, will

be provided to the United Nations, taking into

account the … need for reporting procedures to

reflect diversity in regional, national, sub-national

and, in particular, local characteristics and

priorities. [241]
         THE URBAN OBSERVATORY SYSTEM

       In sustainable development, everyone is a user and provider of
       information considered in the broad sense. That includes data,
       information, appropriately packaged experience and knowledge. The
       need for information arises at all levels, from that of senior
       decision-makers at national and international levels to grass-roots and
       individual levels. [Chapter 40, Agenda 21]



Purpose

The urban observatory system is a worldwide information and

capacity-building network established by UNCHS (Habitat) to help

implement both the Habitat Agenda and Agenda 21 at the national and

local levels.



The purpose is to help governments, local authorities and civil society:

         Improve the collection, management, analysis and use of

        information in formulating more effective urban policy

        Understand how cities work as social and economic systems and

        to use that knowledge for more effective national and local action

        planning



Strategy

Coordinated by the Global Urban Observatory (GUO), the urban

observatory network objectives are:
      To stimulate broad-based consultative processes to help identify

       and integrate urban information needs

      To help build capacity for the collection, management and policy

       applications of urban information, focusing on indicators and best

       practices

      To provide information and analyses to all stakeholders for more

       effective participation in urban decision-making

       To share information, knowledge and expertise using modern

       information technology and infrastructure



These objectives are to be realized through a global network of local,

national and regional urban observatories (LUOs, NUOs and RUOs) and

through partner institutions that provide training and other capacity

building expertise. By providing a framework of guidelines, tools and

technical assistance, the GUO encourages capable institutions to become

urban observatories and to work with urban policy-makers and civil

society to improve our urban environments.
       LOCAL URBAN OBSERVATORIES (LUOS)

Success or failure of urban policy is determined mainly by its

responsiveness to local priorities. The GUO therefore encourages

the designation of Local Urban Observatories (LUOs) as city-level

institutions:

   1. To involve local policy-makers and organizations of civil

       society in dialogue

   2. To generate information on local themes and problems

   3. To encourage policy responses to locally felt needs and

       priorities



As a local platform for policy information, an LUO will typically:



       Work with partner groups to develop and apply appropriate

       indicators, indices and evaluation mechanisms for the urban area

       and its communities

        Maintain management information systems and undertake

       evaluations and impact analyses at the request of local authorities

       and partners groups

       Build capacity for the generation, management, analysis and

       dissemination   of    urban   information,   including   empirical
    information, on a regular and consistent basis and to apply the

    information in decision-making

   Identify conditions, trends and priority issues through research and

    consultative processes involving local officials and organizations of

    civil society

   Propose options for harmonizing sectoral policies and strategies in

    the context of the local plan of action

    Cooperate with other Local Urban Observatories in sharing

    resources, exchanging substantive and methodological knowledge

    and disseminating information to the national, regional and global

    levels

   Assist other local urban observatories in developing their capacity

    to collect and use urban indicators

   Analyze and share lessons learned from ongoing experiences and

    good practices with other Local Urban Observatories

   Maintain a local Internet homepage and a newsletter for providing

    civic society with information on the city and for reporting on

    activities of the LUO and its partner groups

   Produce a biennial State of the City report, including comparative

    analysis of indicators and presentation of best practices
                      SETTING UP AN LUO


Establishing an LUO does not imply the creation of a new body. In most

cases, an existing entity can take on the LUO functions: the city planning

department, a university, an NGO or any other capable organization in the

public or private sector.      Observatories may be a single entity or a

multi-partner arrangement.         They will have strong links to the

policy-making process within the city.



Suggested steps by local authority or civic group to establish an LUO:



1. Form a local steering group that will set the process and modalities

   for designating an LUO

2. Conduct consultations (meetings, seminars, workshops) among local

   policy-makers,      professional     associations,   representatives   of

   non-governmental and civic organizations to:

      a)     Bring policy-makers, practising professionals and the

           community together to exchange views

      b) Identify and raise awareness of local conditions, trends and

           issues and establish local priorities

      c) Identify key urban indicators and types of expertise required to

           gather and analyze indicators data
3. Assess capacity of existing entities to:

      a) Carry out urban indicators data gathering and analysis and to

         establish benchmarks for monitoring of urban conditions and

         trends;

      b) Identify and/or learn from good practice in urban management

         and document possible best practices for sharing with other

         LUOs

      c) Involve all interested groups in the generation, analysis and

         management of relevant in formation for local-level policy

         development, implementation and policy impact monitoring and

         evaluation

4. Designate an LUO from among competent entities that will:

      a) Develop its work programme and biennial budget

      b) Identify and programme its own capacity building needs

      c) Seek local budgetary and other sources of funding

      d) Continue consultative processes
    NATIONAL URBAN OBSERVATORIES (NUOS)


The GUO encourages the establishment of National Urban Observatories

(NUOs) to monitor national trends and conditions and to inform national

level policy and decision-making. NUOs could take many forms: as part

of an existing national consultative structure or agency; as a national

coordinating body for     LUOs; as secretariat to the National Habitat

Committee (NHC), established in most countries in preparation for the

Habitat II Conference; as part of an academic or research institution, NGO

or professional association.    NUOs serve as consultative bodies on

national policy. The first goal of the NUO will be the formulation of a

national urban policy framework, if that does not already exist.



To these ends, it is recommended that NUOs:



     Conduct broad-based consultations to review or to formulate the

     National Plan of Action (NPA) in light of the commitments and

     recommendations of the Habitat Agenda and priorities expressed

     through consultative processes

      Propose a national urban policy framework to guide the

     implementation of the NPA and the formulation and implementation

     of Local Plans of Action (LPAs)
    Propose options for harmonizing sectoral objectives, based on urban

    indicators and best practices analysis

    Provide a coordinating framework for the collection, analysis and

    application of urban indicators at the national and local levels

   Organize, in conjunction with other partners, national best practice

    competitions and exhibitions

    Organize training programmes, for policy makers and technicians at

    the national and local levels, on the generation and use of empirical

    information

    Maintain an indicators programme to monitor implementation of the

    NPA

    Coordinate the assessment and provision of capacity-building

    resources for the implementing, monitoring and evaluating NPA and

    of LPAs

    Organize, with relevant partners at all levels, networks for training

    and peer-to-peer learning among agencies, local authorities and civic

    organizations engaged in improving the living environment

    Maintain an Internet homepage for providing civic society with

    information on the national urban policy and for reporting on

    activities of the NUO and its partner groups

    Produce a biennial State of the Nation’s Cities report, including

    comparative analysis of indicators and presentation of best practices
                         SETTING UP AN NUO


As with LUOs, establishing an NUO does not imply the creation of a new

body. In most cases, there will already be an entity capable of taking on the

NUO functions:           the national planning department, the urban

development ministry, a university or national urban/social research

institution, an NGO or a public or private sector think tank. An NUO may

be a single entity or a multi-partner arrangement.



Suggested steps by national Government or civic group to establish an

NUO:



1. Form a national steering group that will set the process and

   modalities for designating an NUO

2. Conduct consultations (meetings, seminars, workshops) among

   policy      makers,    local   authorities,   professional   associations,

   representatives of non-governmental and civic organizations to:

       a) Bring policy-makers, practising professionals and civic society

            together;

       b) Establish national priority needs and identify issues of national

            policy
      c) Identify key national urban indicators and Best Practices for

           benchmarking the review and updating of the NPA

3. Assess capacity of existing national entities to:

      a)    coordinate monitoring and evaluation of progress in

           implementing the NPA through benchmarking with indicators

           and best practices

      b) Support networking and Internet connectivity between LUOs

           and the national Government

      c) Organize training programmes in the use of information for

           policy-making at the national and local level

      d) Coordinate national and local indicator programmes to monitor

           implementation of national and local plans of action

4. Designate an NUO from among competent entities that will:

      a) Develop its work programme and biennial budget

      b) Identify and programme its own capacity building needs

      c) Seek national budgetary and other sources of funding

      d) Continue consultative processes
  REGIONAL URBAN OBSERVATORIES (RUOS)


Regional (international) organizations, including the regional offices and

commissions of the United Nations system, international umbrella NGOs,

networks of research and training institutions and others are encouraged to

organize urban observatory functions on a regional basis. Regional Urban

Observatories (RUOs) can be organized on a strictly geographical basis, on

the grounds of a shared eco-system, or other common social, cultural,

administrative, political, environmental concern.



RUOs are set up to:



       Hold regional consultations on common issues, including

       transboundary issues and issues derived from shared ecological ,

       administrative or cultural systems

      Sponsor regional workshops on the development and adaptation of

       region-specific tools, guidelines, methods and indicators

      Organize, in conjunction with other partners, national best practice

       competitions and exhibitions

      Contribute to development and dissemination of training materials

       in languages of the region
     Coordinate    training   for   trainers   in   national   and   local

    capacity-building institutions

    Assist NUOs and partners in the region with the collection,

    compilation and analysis of indicators data and best practices

    Facilitate the sharing and exchange of lessons learned among

    countries and cities of the region

   Coordinate regional urban research programmes

   Identify regional correspondents and focal points for technical

    cooperation and research

   Report on new development, opportunities and constraints to the

    GUO for the inclusion of region-specific issues and priorities in

    inter-governmental processes

   Produce a biennial State of the Region’s Cities report, including

    comparative analysis of indicators and presentation of best practices
                     SETTING UP AN RUO


Regional Urban Observatories have an explicit international dimension.

The functions of RUO should therefore be anchored with an entity,

association or network with clear international outlook and a fairly

comprehensive coverage of the region through existing networks. An

RUO could be located within an existing public or private sector institution,

a leading university or research institution or an umbrella NGO. The

institution does not necessarily have to have a physical location.

Depending on the region's degree of connectivity, the RUO may reside in

cyberspace without physical location. As in the case of LUOs and NUOs,

the RUO must claim the attention of, and interact with, policy makers.



Suggested steps by regional Governments and their partners to establish an

RUO:



1. Form a regional steering group that will set the process and

   modalities for designating an RUO

2. Conduct consultations (meetings, seminars, workshops) among high

   level national policy makers, associations of local authorities,

   professional associations, representatives of non-governmental and

   civic organizations in the region to:
      a) Bring policy-makers, practising professionals and civic society

         together

      b) Establish regional priority needs and issues

      c) Identify key regional urban indicators and Best Practices for

         benchmarking the review and updating of progress in

         implementing the Habitat Agenda through NPAs and LPAs

3. Assess capacity of existing regional entities to:

      a) Support networking and Internet connectivity among NUOs

      b) Organize regional training programmes in the gathering and

         analysis of information and in the use of       information for

         policy-making

      c) Coordinate national indicator programmes to monitor the

         regional implementation of the Habitat Agenda

4. Designate an RUO from among competent entities that will:

      a) Develop its work programme and biennial budget

      b) Identify and programme its own capacity building needs

      c) Seek national budgetary and other sources of funding

      d) Continue consultative processes
   THE GLOBAL URBAN OBSERVATORY (GUO)


At the global level, the GUO synthesizes information from all urban

observatories to provide a worldwide assessment of urban conditions and

trends. This assessment is summarized every two years in The State of the

World’s Cities series.2[2]      The Global Urban Observatory is developing

guidelines, methods, databases and software in support of the work of

urban observatories. Through its networking functions, the GUO helps

coordinate capacity-building, training and technical assistance resources

for monitoring progress in improving people’s living environments and for

expanding the base of knowledge.



It is important to the GUO to know where LUOs, NUOs and RUOs have

been set up. If you have taken such an initiative, please inform us. Please

also contact your national Habitat focal point for information purposes and

for national coordination of efforts towards establishing urban

observatories.



Some tools provided by the GUO:3[3]

          Guidelines

2[2]
     The first summary of The State of the World’s Cities will appear on the GUO
     website in April 1999.
3[3]
     Tools in boldface are now available from the GUO.
   Global Urban Indicators Database and collection tool

   Global Best Practices Database and case studies

   Training packages

   Software for data management and analysis

   Standard website templates

   Programme development software

   Networking software

   Office management software

   Global legislation database;

   Rosters of skills, expertise and knowledge




                 CONTACT THE GUO
                     e-mail: guo@unchs.org
                             website:
                 http://www.urbanobservatory.org/
       IMPORTANT MILESTONES


   The United Nations General Assembly, as the

    highest intergovernmental body, will convene a

    special session in June 2001 for an overall review of

    the implementation of the Habitat Agenda since the

    Habitat II Conference in Istanbul, Turkey



    The United Nations Commission on Human

    Settlements, under the Social and Economic

    Council of the United Nations, will review progress

    in the implementation of the Habitat Agenda during

    each of its meetings, starting with its 17th session in

    1999



    A summary of The State of the World’s

    Cities:1999 will be distributed to the Commission

    on Human Settlements at its 17th session in May
    1999 and will be made generally available on the

    Global Urban Observatory website.



    National Governments, Local Authorities and

    their   partners   should   review   their   own

    implementation of the Habitat Agenda on a yearly

    basis, synchronous with their planning and

    budgeting cycles
                   The Global Urban Observatory
        United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat)
                         P.O. Box 30030 - Nairobi, Kenya
               Tel: (254-2) 623119 - Fax: (254-2) 623080 (GMT +3)
                               e-mail: guo@unchs.org
                         http://www.UrbanObservatory.org




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