Guidelines for the Planning, Development and Management of a Clearing House Mechanism

These guidelines were produced under the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) project: "Networking and Knowledge Management of Regional Organisations -Asia (NeRO)" and summarize our experiences with planning, developing and managing a CHM as a tool to facilitate policy dialogue by the example of the ASEAN Forest CHM. Rather than generating a highly sophisticated database solution we always laid great emphasis on building up a community of users of the involved countries and on establishing communication channels among them. "Hi-touch" and not "high-tech" was our motto. Workshops bringing together developers, decision-makers and users alike have in our opinion a higher rate of success in creating a CHM as a network of networks than an IT application with all its bells and whistles without proper involvement of the users in the development. International agreements rely on formalized structures. In our opinion also the use of a CHM has to be formalized by written agreements. Data use and data sharing agreements form the basis of a joint working within the framework of a CHM. Establishing formal links from the very beginning of the development through the concept of national focal points is in our opinion one prerequisite for the long-term success. Another crucial part for implementing a CHM is to clearly identify the needs of the users and to make sure that the information within the CHM is serving the demands of the user. This might change over time; thereby the CHM central hub should always have a close connection to the CHM nodes. The management of the CHM has to be flexible enough to cater to these demands. If enough resources are available in the operational phase including a dedicated Content Manager a CHM network

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