The Dubai International Award For Best Practice

21 years of recognizing excellence in urban best practice

The Dubai Municipality and UN-Habitat present the Dubai International Award for Best Practices to Improve the Living Environment.

The 2017 Award comes at a critical time; with the New Urban Agenda being signed in October last year, this is a distinct opportunity to show case the most effective interventions for improving the lives of urban residents around the globe.

In line with Sustainable Development Goal 11 – to make cities and communities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable – the Best Practice Award recognizes significant contributions which:

  • Have a demonstrable and tangible impact on improving people’s quality of life;
  • Are the result of effective partnerships between the public, private and civic sectors of society;
  • Are socially, culturally, economically and environmentally sustainable.

In addition, the award reflects the policy and commitment of the Dubai Government and the United Arab Emirates towards the sustainable development of human settlements and the protection of the environment.

Working closely with UN-Habitat, the award represents the importance of strong and coherent partnerships in implementing the New Urban Agenda and SDG 11, and delivering socially, economically and environmentally sustainable cities for all.

The award is open to all sectors: national and regional governments; local authorities and their associations; non-governmental organizations; multilateral agencies; community based organizations; research and academic institutions; public and private foundations; media entities and individuals.

How to Apply

Download the submission guidelines below. Proceed here to register and apply by providing the required details. Please be sure to provide valid information.

Submission Guidelines

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There are 5 categories of entries available. Click each tab to view more information:

Best Practices - USD 30,000 each + a Trophy

Best Practice Award for National Urban Policies (NUP) – 1 Winner 

This category aims to recognize national and sub-national governments that successfully adopt and implement National Urban Policies (NUP). Such Governments acknowledge that cities require priority high level attention in national development strategies, both in macro-economic and social policy terms.

A National Urban Policy is defined by UN-Habitat as a “coherent set of decisions derived through a deliberate government led-process of coordinating and rallying various actors for a common vision and goal that promotes more transformative, productive, inclusive, and resilient urban development for the long term”.

To be considered for the Award, the submission should have demonstrated the effective adoption and implementation of NUPs that have brought positive results in one or more of the areas below:

  • More harmonious regional and territorial urban development, balancing social, economic and environmental concerns;
  • Stronger guidance on the future development of the national urban system and its regional spatial configuration, supported by specific plans, tools and means of implementation;
  • Wider participation and higher levels of coordination of diverse stakeholders and partners in various development levels and areas, with more public and private investments and more effective allocation of resources;
  • Better design and more effective implementation of transformative solutions in key regional and urban development areas such as infrastructure development, urban energy and urban mobility that have contributed to improve the quality of life and the prosperity of the country’s population

The results obtained from the implementation of the National Urban Policies should have succeeded in:

  • Defining the mandates and levels of responsibility for all tiers of government;
  • Improving the financial model for government functions at various levels;
  • Creating well-planned structures and plans for different regions of the country, including rural-urban linkages;
  • Defining higher jurisdictional coherence to achieve better urban and regional governance, including urban plans with law enforcement capacity.

Best Practice Award for National Urban Policies

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Best Practice Award for Participatory Slum Upgrading – 1 Winner

This category aims to recognise impactful initiatives by national and sub national governments, local authorities and organizations including those at community level that significantly transformed the living standards of slum dwellers. Taking into account the estimated one billion slum dwellers living in the world today, this award seeks to promote initiatives that demonstrate positive change in slums achieved at community, city and national levels.

To be considered for the Award, the submission should have demonstrated the effective adoption and implementation of policies, strategies and plans aimed at addressing one or more of the areas below:

  • Reducing urban poverty and applying slum upgrading solutions to social, economic and environmental problems;
  • Harnessing the power of partnerships and communities for inclusive urban transformation by establishing broad partnerships and platforms that include slum dwellers as well as key decision makers;
  • Building consensus between all urban stakeholders on the programmes undertaken;
  • Protecting and expanding the livelihood opportunities of slum dwellers;
  • Promoting social mix and diversity; including measures to counter gentrification;
  • Reducing inequalities in the urban context by integrating the people living in slums into the broader urban fabric for more prosperous and sustainable cities;
  • Empowering women and youth.

The results from the implementation of participatory slum upgrading initiatives should demonstrate success in:

  • Targeting the five slum deprivations by providing slum dwellers with access to portable water, improved sanitation, durable housing, adequate living space and security of residential tenure;
  • Promoting multilevel governance frameworks through multi stakeholder participation including that of youth, women and all vulnerable communities living in slums.
  • Aligning all policies, plans and strategies for slum upgrading, to existing public policies and strategies at city and national levels.
  • Financing slum upgrading through diverse financing options including public and private finances.
  • Upholding the human rights of slum dwellers including preventing forced evictions;
  • Providing a sustainable framework for ending poverty through slum upgrading.

Best Practice Award for Participatory Slum Upgrading

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Best Practices Transfer - USD 30,000 each + a Trophy

A Best Practice transfer is defined as a process whereby two or more parties engage in a mutual and structured exchange to learn from one another in view of improving processes, skills, knowledge, expertise or technology for the purpose of improving the urban living environment.

Best Practices Transfer award will be given to policies and programmes that have demonstrable results and tangible impact in improving the quality of urban life and contributed to the sustainable urban development agenda and that have also been replicated in part or in whole, through structured learning and/or exchange mechanisms, described above. This category will be given two awards:

1. Best Practice Transfer Award in Local Implementation – Urban redevelopment, and redesign of urban spaces – 1 Winner

This Award category aims to recognize local governments, private sector, NGOs and other organizations and institutions for designing and implementing local physical actions that have driven transformative change in the city.

To be considered for the Award, the submission should demonstrate that physical city interventions have resulted in one or more of the following outcomes:

  • More extensions of the city that are well-planned and commensurate with population growth needs, for example through Planned City Extensions;
  • More areas within the city that are redeveloped to accommodate growth without expanding the urban edge, for example through planned city in-fills and brownfield developments;
  • More properly urbanized areas of the city through land readjustment interventions;
  • Larger slum areas of the city that have been upgraded through integrated in-situ improvements and the delivery of urban basic services and housing;
  • Better provision of accessible public space throughout the city.

The results obtained from transformative city physical interventions should have succeeded in:

  • Achieving more efficient and sustainable urban development with a considerable increase of densities;
  • Optimizing the land use and minimizing the social, economic and environmental cost of urban sprawl;
  • Improving street life, economic viability, proximity and walkability in the city;
  • Reviving abandoned or poorly developed urban areas within the city;
  • Reducing the proportion and number of slum and informal areas within the city;
  • Creating and maintaining adequate public spaces and open areas in the city.

Best Practice Transfer Award in local implementation for urban redevelopment, and redesign of urban spaces

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2. Best Practice Transfer Award in Monitoring Mechanisms for the New Urban Agenda and the Urban SDGs – 1 Winner

This Award category aims to recognize local governments, academia, private sector, civil society and any other organizations and institutions that are putting in place effective local monitoring systems for the follow-up and review of the New Urban Agenda and the urban SDGs. The Award recognizes that data, metrics and sound monitoring mechanisms are essential for achieving the sustainable urban development agenda. The monitoring mechanism enables local and national governments to make correct decisions on the best policies to adopt, and assist in tracking changes, whilst systematically documenting performance of the city at the outcome level.  This will increase the possibilities for the cities to address the environmental, social and economic components of urbanization.

To be considered for the Award, the submissions should demonstrate the effective creation and implementation of sound local monitoring mechanisms that have resulted in one or more of the outcomes below:

  • Refinement in the conventional means of data collection, such as household surveys, expert opinion and perception surveys and population registers;
  • Development and refinement of non-conventional means of data collection, such as community-based surveys, ICT, video footage ;
  • Refinement in the approaches and techniques for the data collection, analysis and compilation of information for new themes of the New Urban Agenda and the urban SDGs indicators;
  • Incorporation of new analytical tools based on spatial indicators, including the development of new techniques and conditions;
  • Adoption of metrics and methodologies with a unified monitoring framework such as UN-Habitat City Prosperity Initiative.

The results obtained from the operationalization of the local monitoring mechanism should have succeeded in:

  • Integrating a city-wide approach to the measurement of the city;
  • Producing more sensitive city data including intra-city variations
  • Adopting a more holistic and integrated approach to policy development;
  • Incorporating into one single mechanism the follow-up and review of both the New Urban Agenda and the urban SDGs;
  • Improving the quality of decision-making and promoting evidence-based bottom-up-top down dialogue;
  • Enhancing the participation of partners, bringing more legitimacy and wider ownership to the monitoring and review process of the urban agendas;
  • Achieving higher accountability for delivering and reporting.

Best Practice Transfer Award in Monitoring Mechanisms for the New Urban Agenda and the Urban SDGs

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Private Sector - USD 30,000 each + a Trophy

Private Sector Award for contribution to territorial planning, urban planning and design – 2 Winners

The award is given to a private sector organization that has successfully given technical assistance and advice to local government for the development and implementation of effective territorial and urban design plans to act on the form, character and functionality of the city, increasing prosperity and sustainability.

To be considered for the Award, the submission should demonstrate the effective adoption and implementation of a reinvigorated notion of territorial planning and design that has brought about positive results in one or more of the areas below :

  • More urban spaces that facilitate the development of economies of agglomeration;
  • More well-designed urban areas that have increased densities and mixed land uses;
  • Better and more resilient plans and strategies that address climate change related risks;
  • More public space that is accessible, affordable and safe for all inhabitants;
  • Better urban plans that articulate different scales of intervention from regions, to the metropolis, the city and the neighborhood;
  • More places that encourage social diversity.

The results obtained from the effective implementation of urban planning and design should have succeeded in:

  • Transforming the city or parts of it in more compact, integrated, connected and sustainable areas;
  • Ensuring higher protection of the ‘commons’ and the urban and natural environment through appropriated design;
  • Increasing city resilience mechanisms, adaptation and mitigation capacities and the possibilities of the city to deal with climate change risks through adequate plans;
  • Achieving higher levels of sustainable mobility that contribute to reduce energy consumption, improve accessibility social inclusion.
  • Creating effective public-private partnerships

The private sector entity should also demonstrate social and environmental sustainability principles and values in its core business.

Private Sector Award for contribution to territorial planning, urban planning and design

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Personal Award - USD 30,000 each + a Trophy

Personal Award – for contribution to urban economy and municipal finance – 2 Winners

This Award category aims to recognize an individual that has made outstanding contributions to the development of urban economy and municipal finance, working for local authorities, and other related organizations. The individual’s work has contributed to enhancing fiscal devolution, increasing the productivity of cities, improving revenue generation and collection, providing decent jobs and equal opportunities.

To be considered for the Award, the submission should demonstrate the effective adoption and implementation of strategies for reinvigorated urban economy and employment generation including any of the following:

  • More effective business plan that increases municipal income;
  • Sound economic regeneration and urban renewal programmes;
  • More effective strategies that promote economic cluster development and economic diversification plans for job generation;
  • Sound contractual and legal frameworks that allow for more transparent and effective public-private partnerships and other financial strategies;
  • Better targeted programmes for human capital formation and the development of knowledge sharing platforms;
  • Mechanisms and tools for fostering inclusive local economic development (job creation, entrepreneurship, microfinance, etc.), more adequate and affordable lending mechanisms that target the urban poor and other vulnerable populations;
  • Income-growth and generation programmes in favor or minorities, including immigrants.
  • Design and implement tools for fostering inclusive local economic development (e.g. job creation, entrepreneurship, microfinance, etc)

The results obtained from a reinvigorated urban economy and employment generation should have succeeded in:

  • Achieving higher municipal revenue generation;
  • Reducing unemployment and underemployment rates in the city;
  • Improving city competitiveness and better value generation to achieve a more productive urban economy;
  • More efficient supply chain factors that increase affordability of goods and services;
  • Higher land and property values linked to value capture mechanisms to increase the revenue base of the government.

Personal Award for contribution to urban economy and municipal finance

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University Research Award - USD 15,000 each + a Trophy

University Research Award on Legislation, Rules, Regulations & Governance Systems – 2 Winners

This award aims to recognize outstanding research on this thematic area. The research will be judged based on breaking new ground, introducing new thinking, having high impact and/or inspiring others in this thematic area. The research should have provided significant information, perspectives and analysis on the areas listed below; and /or highlighted national and local government/s that have adopted and implemented laws and regulatory mechanisms to support the process of well-planned urbanization, including transparent legal frameworks and enforcement mechanisms.

The research should demonstrate the effective adoption and implementation of an urban legislation framework that brings some or all of the following:

  • Higher accountability and rule of law;
  • Stronger forms of supervision and responsibility at different levels of government that are complementary;
  • Clearer implementation mechanisms that are continuously enforced;
  • More effective legal instruments that promote ‘positive’ urbanization;
  • Better regulations related to the creation and protection of public spaces and the establishment of development rights and building codes for the adequate design of streets and plot layouts;
  • Better mechanisms for municipal income generation, including laws and regulations for land value capture and sharing;
  • Better regulation to protect the ‘commons’ and ensure environmental sustainability;
  • Sounder urban governance mechanisms and decentralization laws that expand citizen participation and empowerment;
  • More suitable mechanisms and regulations that ensure an equitable access to public goods and the protection of the public domain.
  • Increased city capacities to regulate the form of the city and reorient its vocation and comparative advantages;
  • New or Adjusted urban plans that offer useful guidance and predictable outcomes, balancing public and private interests;
  • Improved capacity of the local government to guide and harness the transformative forces of urbanization;
  • Better rules and regulation for environmental sustainability;
  • Increased stability and security through enhanced social and economic inclusion

University Research Award on Legislation, Rules, Regulations and Governance Systems

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In total,10 submissions are awarded for their innovative ways of dealing with social, economic, and environmental challenges in a sustainable manner: 2 Best Practices, 2 Best Practices Transfers; 2 Personal awards, and 2 Private sector winners are all given USD thirty thousand (30,000 US Dollars) each. 2 University Research winners receive USD fifteen thousand (15,000 US Dollars) each.

Final deadline for submissions:  31 August 2017

For more information and details on how to apply, visit For inquires, please contact

UN-Habitat Best Practices Database: Best Practices

To view past award winners, best practices and good practices, please visit UN-Habitat’s Best Practices Database

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