Kidane Alemayehu, former UN management expert © AME Info
A number of former UN-HABITAT staff were invited to attend the Fifth Session of the World Urban Forum that has just concluded in Rio de Janeiro. Kidane Alemayehu was one of the retirees invited and here he reminisces of the time he spent in UN-HABITAT and offers some insights.
I participated in the just ended World Urban Forum5 at the invitation of the Executive Director, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka. The purpose of this brief note is to express my appreciation as well as to offer a few remarks and suggestions for UN-HABITAT's consideration with regard to the Best Practices Award.
At the outset, I would like to thank the Executive Director for having invited me to the conference even after my retirement. It is, for me, simply wonderful to note that service with UN-HABITAT will not be forgotten or ignored. It was very satisfying to witness the highly successful conference the results of which I intend to bring to the attention of my friends and mayor once I get back home in Dallas, Texas, U.S.A.
Secondly, I think it would be useful to introduce myself briefly before I proceed with my remarks. I retired after 22 years service with UN-HABITAT. I served as a Project Manager/Team Leader for 3 years in Tanzania, one and a half years as an Inter-Regional consultant from headquarters in Uganda, Malawi, Nigeria, and Gambia, 3 years as Team Leader with the Ministry of Public Works in the United Arab Emirates, and 15 years as Project Manager with Dubai Municipality.
Among the many achievements, I should mention here the one initiated by the project and later greatly supported by Mr. Nick You and Ms. Wandia Seaforth of UN-HABITAT, namely, the Dubai International Award for Best Practices to Improve the Living Environment. It is a pleasure to note that Dubai Municipality issued a certificate recognizing the fact that I initiated the Award. I'm reiterating this point now not seeking an accolade but rather to emphasize the fact that I'm familiar with the award right from its inception.
Having participated in the WUF5's sessions dealing with or referring to the Best Practices Award, I have come away with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I felt greatly satisfied by the fact that the Award has achieved an international prominence largely as a result of the great effort exerted by numerous people including Nick You, Wandia, the partner institutions and individuals as well as Dubai Municipality. On the other hand, I have noted with concern some ill-considered and negative statements being ascribed to the Award: It was alleged, for instance, by a couple of panelists that the Award was "static" and limited in scope. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the Award's name included the words: "....to improve the living environment" in order to ensure that the recognition of a best practice was a beginning of a process that would proceed towards implementation through a dynamic process of transfers. The other concern I have is the notion that the Award should be devoted to on-going schemes the practical impact of which may not yet be determined.
I suggest that what is really needed is to emphasize and effect transfers by, for example, increasing the number of awards for transfers, instead of abandoning nearly 20 years' effort.
Finally, I wish Mrs. Tibaijuka a very happy life of retirement and UN-HABITAT a successful implementation of the World Urban Campaign compact.