31 May 2016

Communities of practice: an efficient instrument to ensure the sharing of knowledge

the launch of the Community of Practice for Urban Transport in Mediterranean Region, we interviewed Mourad Ezzine, Manager of the Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI), who is behind the project.

What is the CMI mission?

The Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI) is a multi-partner platform where development agencies, Governments, local authorities and civil society from around the Mediterranean convene in order to exchange knowledge, discuss public policies, and identify the solutions needed to address key challenges facing the Mediterranean region.

Members of Center are Egypt, France, Greece, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestinian Authority, Tunisia, the City of Marseille, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region, the European Investment Bank and the World Bank Group, and the European External Action Service as an observer. In addition, the CMI nurtures strong partnerships with more than sixty institutions, among which AFD, CDC, GIZ, CODATU, to name a few.

Why is the CMI oriented towards Communities of Practices since a while?

Knowledge sharing is at the core of the CMI mandate and has long constituted a key dimension of CMI programs and dialogue activities. The community of practice (COP) responds to CMI priority, as a “Mediterranean Knowledge Platform”, by allowing country-based teams of technical and administrative staff and experts in international organizations to continuously share experiences, good practices and relevant knowledge products. It is one of the most effective ways to build capacity around the region in areas and themes in which countries are facing similar policy development or technical challenges.

The use of advanced communication technology, such as videoconferencing, has also made this type of interaction cost-effective. While the organization of conferences and face-to-face training sessions is expensive and requires complex logistics, the videoconferencing system allows more frequent interactions at only a fraction of the cost.

From this perspective, the communities of practice have proven to be an efficient instrument to ensure and sustain the sharing of lessons and experiences among the practitioners, partners, and policy-makers of Mediterranean countries.

So far, CMI runs and coordinates communities of practice in the area of employment and social protection; tertiary education; and as of today, on sustainable urban transport.

Why did the CMI want to create a CoP in the field of urban transport?

The objective of setting up a Community of Practice for sustainable urban transport is to leverage the networks established, the knowledge products developed and the capacity building and strategic thinking activities that have been conducted under the CMI Sustainable Urban Transport program since its beginning in 2010. There is now a great deal of knowledge and experience to be shared, and much to gain from thinking at regional level on several important issues.

How do you think Community of Practices are involved in the integration in the Mediterranean?

While many are convinced that further regional integration is a win-win proposal for all countries around the region, very few today give a sufficient priority to knowledge in this process. We tend to overestimate the impact of projects and funding, while in reality knowledge and sound policies are the key ingredients of development. This is why we strive to offer member countries greater opportunities to learn from one another, generate ideas together, and improve policies based on evidence and results.