Erwin Eder 

Managing Director, HORIZONT3000, Austria

Rosa Luxemburg, a fighter for civil rights, once said: ‘We will only succeed if we do not forget to learn.’ Development cooperation works mainly project-based and involves multiple stakeholders for financing and implementing activities. Still, one can find numerous NGOs, donors, and companies working in the same sector but not knowing each other and, worse, not sharing their experiences with each other. Further, project teams often lack time and resources to collectively reflect and learn from their doings and improve their practice as knowledge management is simply not foreseen in their job description and project budgets. More than ever, the highly complex situations and scarce funding opportunities found in development cooperation need learning organisations that try new ideas and approaches, and that are continually reflecting on their practice and sharing their experiences with others working in the same field. HORIZONT3000’s core business is capacity development for local partner organizations and it is specialized in the monitoring and implementation of development projects and in expert-sending to developing countries. In this context, HORIZONT3000 recognized the importance of knowledge management in order to facilitate learning and sharing processes and improve the performance of local partner organizations.

Knowledge management, as it is understood and promoted by HORIZONT3000, is not information management which focuses on a collection and distribution of data. In HORIZONT3000’s knowledge management – called KNOW-HOW3000 – knowledge refers to experience, know-how, capacity or skills. The main question regarding knowledge is how to produce, transfer, adapt it to specific contexts and share it between the right people, taking into account the socio-cultural structure and institutional setting that shape these processes. HORIZONT3000 is convinced that, in order to achieve the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, it is crucial to promote organisations and project teams that reflect and learn. Learning organisations are adaptive to their environment, create a culture that encourages and supports collective and individual learning, as well as critical thinking and risk taking with new ideas. Learning organisations allow failures, learn from positive and negative experience, and disseminate the new knowledge throughout and beyond the organisation to achieve better results and long-term sustainable development.