The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) is the regional development arm of the United Nations for the Asia-Pacific region. Made up of 53 Member States and 9 Associate Members, with a geographical scope that stretches from Turkey in the west to the Pacific island nation of Kiribati in the east, and from the Russian Federation in the north to New Zealand in the south, the region is home to 4.1 billion people, or two thirds of the world’s population. This makes ESCAP the most comprehensive of the United Nations five regional commissions, and the largest United Nations body serving the Asia-Pacific region with over 600 staff.
Established in 1947 with its headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand, ESCAP works to overcome some of the region’s greatest challenges by providing results oriented projects, technical assistance and capacity building to member States in the following areas:
- Macroeconomic Policy, Poverty Reduction and Financing for Development
- Trade and Investment
- Environment and Development
- Information and Communications Technology and Disaster Risk Reduction
- Social Development
- Subregional activities for development
ESCAP promotes rigorous analysis and peer learning in our core areas of work; translates these findings into policy dialogues and recommendations; and provides good development practices, knowledge sharing and technical assistance to member States in the implementation of these recommendations.
ESCAP uses its convening power to bring countries together to address issues through regional cooperation, including:
- Issues that all or a group of countries in the region face, for which it is necessary to learn from each other;
- Issues that benefit from regional or multi-country involvement;
- Issues that are transboundary in nature, or that would benefit from collaborative inter-country approaches;
- Issues that are of a sensitive or emerging nature and require further advocacy and negotiation.
ESCAP provides a forum for its member States that promotes regional cooperation and collective action, assisting countries in building and sustaining shared economic growth and social equity. In addition, ESCAP gives stronger participation to the smaller and often left out voices of the region, the least developed countries, the small island States and landlocked States.
ESCAP’s norm setting and policy work ultimately impacts people’s lives in a positive way by helping countries shape and implement a more balanced and inclusive development agenda for the region.
The ESCAP secretariat comprises the Office of the Executive Secretary, eight substantive Divisions, the Division of Administration, and the Strategy and Programme Management Division. The delivery of ESCAP’s programmes is supported by the subregional offices and the regional institutions.
ESCAP is committed to a resilient Asia and the Pacific founded on shared prosperity, social equity and sustainability. Our vision is to be the most comprehensive multilateral platform for promoting cooperation among member States to achieve inclusive and sustainable economic and social development in Asia and the Pacific.
Established in 1947 in Shanghai, China, as the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE) to assist in post-war economic reconstruction, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) moved its headquarters to Bangkok in January 1949.
The name was changed in 1974 to reflect both the economic and social aspects of development and the geographic location of its member countries.
ESCAP's mandate was broadened in 1977 by the General Assembly. The regional commissions have since then been the main UN economic and social development centres within the five different regions.
Strengthened by 50 years of experience as a regional think-tank, ESCAP's activities are more and more concentrated on spreading the growth momentum from its more dynamic member countries to the rest of the region.
The ultimate challenge lies in bringing the region's 680 million poor into the economic mainstream, enabling everybody to achieve a better standard of life as envisaged in the Charter of the United Nations.