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About the Development Account

Thematic Reviews

Networks of expertise (2009 extract out of Sixth Progress Report)


13. The projects programmed in the context of the fourth tranche have been carried out through a variety of activities, including the building of networks of expertise with links at subregional, regional and global levels, and the provision of information and advice affecting national, subregional and regional policies and practices. Other mechanisms included workshops/training mechanisms which contribute to the sharing of knowledge, skills and experiences and are utilized to link and increase the impact of existing networks. The activities in furtherance of building capacity were conducted with the assistance of local/regional expertise wherever possible.

14. The networks  created or expanded by Development Account projects range from traditional expert networks to networks of civil society to the development of electronic portals and databases. Expert networks are the prevailing Account knowledge management modality. Local and regional human and technical capacities are used to maximize knowledge transfer, utilizing such networks in line with established Account criteria and with a view to promoting capacity-building in developing countries.

15. Three regional networks were developed and established through the fourth tranche project, entitled “Capacity-building in trade and transport facilitation for landlocked transit developing countries”. That project supported the creation of trade and transport facilitation clusters of expertise along selected transit corridors in Africa (linking Lusaka and the port of Walvis Bay in Namibia), Asia (linking Vientiane and the port of Bangkok) and South America (linking Asunci√≥n with the port of Montevideo). The project concentrated on actions to improve transit corridor operations, especially by developing regional networks to design and implement regional transport facilitation strategies. The participating institutions, including regional partners and individual cluster members, expressed satisfaction with that approach. The practicality and the operational friendliness of the cooperation schemes were welcomed as alternatives to formal bilateral arrangements. Several clusters have already secured external financing to support follow-up action and scaling-up of the activities.

16. Another example of capacity-building through the use of networks is the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)-led project, entitled “Enhancing knowledge-sharing to support the poverty reduction strategy process in Africa”. The project strengthened the capacity of African countries in the formulation of the poverty reduction strategies and the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals through knowledge production and exchange. The recommendations of the 118 senior practitioners who were consulted provided a basis for the demand-driven design of a knowledge-sharing network website, www.uneca.org/africanprsp. The project also generated a greater awareness about knowledge-sharing, thus prompting demands to replicate the aforementioned knowledge sharing platform.

17. The joint project of the regional commissions, entitled “Interregional partnership for promoting trade as an engine of growth through knowledge management and information and communications technologies”, demonstrated that interregional trade facilitation is an example of good practices to be replicated in creating trade facilitation networks and in promoting South-South cooperation. Networks were established by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, and ECA, allowing developing countries to share good practices and adopt common positions on trade facilitation measures.

Networks of expertise continued (2007 extract out of Fifth Progress Report) )

 

20. Development Account projects are expected to take advantage of the networking of expertise at the sub-regional, regional, and global levels. In line with resolution 53/220 A and guided by the recommendations and views of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions in its report to the sixtieth session of the General Assembly, projects from the first three tranches have endeavoured to build a network. Although the original assumption was that information and communications technologies would be leveraged in the development of networks, only about one third of all networks used ICT effectively. Projects instead tended to rely on more formal modes of communication and network building, such as establishing contact during meetings and workshops. This modality of connecting experts met with success, particularly when the network was designed to link together a core group of experts. Another example comes from the area of statistics. Every year, an expert network of heads of statistical offices, supported in part by a project on regional capacity for statistical development in South-East Asia, sponsored by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs under the second tranche, meets for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Heads of Statistical Offices Meeting. The most recent meeting was held in November 2006 (http://www.aseansec.org/18981.htm). The network ensures the sustainability of statistical activities supported by the Development Account in the region and plans to meet in Cambodia in late 2007. The establishment of formal network architecture, either in the form of an annual meeting or of a viable ICT electronic forum, markedly increases the probability that the network will be relevant, successful and durable.

21. The typology of networks for the Development Account, as shown below, was developed based on an analysis of the activities of the Account. The networks were categorized and defined as follows:

(a) Traditional expert networks consist of government officials who meet face-to-face during meetings and workshops;
(b) Directories, portals and databases are online repositories of information, such as contact information or training material, that serve to connect people;
(c) Non-executed networks are those foreseen in the project documents but not carried out owing to a refocus of the project or time constraints;
(d) Electronic expert networks consist of government experts who are linked by interactive websites or electronic mailing lists;
(e) Civil society networks are made up mostly of non-governmental organizations and local authorities;
(f) Other networks consist of a mix of the actors mentioned above and often include members of academia.

Figure 4
Development account network typology, tranches 1 to 3

22. The most effective networking modality is to leverage pre-existing networks. That strategy enables the project to mobilize stakeholders rapidly around the project objective and to avoid excessive costs in network construction and recruitment. The networks also enhance the visibility and sustainability of the projects. For example, a project funded under the first tranche supported an existing network of women in peacebuilding and helped to promote the participation of women in preventing conflict and restoring peace in Africa.

23. While building on pre-existing networks has proven to be the most effective project modality, the Development Account has also successfully built and maintained 13 new networks. Those networks continue to facilitate the transfer of knowledge, skills, and experiences, generating an impact beyond the original scope of project activities and intended impacts. Development Account networks serve to develop regional and interregional links, influence decision makers, and sustain local capacity-building movements. The Global Trade Point Network was a project developed by UNCTAD under the first tranche. The project was entitled “Promotion of electronic commerce”, and it was designed to assist small and medium-sized enterprises in international trade activities, especially through the Internet. The Network has since developed into a self-sustaining entity called the World Trade Point Federation (http://www.tradepoint.org). The Federation, through a network of more than 120 trade information and facilitation centres, known as trade points, assists small and medium-sized enterprises in over 90 countries worldwide in trading internationally through the use of electronic commerce technologies.