New ESCAP Subregional Office for North and Central Asia

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, H.E. Mr. Yerzhan Kazykhanov, today signed an agreement with United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP, Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, establishing the ESCAP Subregional Office for North and Central Asia in the former Kazakh capital Almaty.

This Subregional Office of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) better positions the UN regional arm to address sustainable and inclusive development priorities in the subregion comprising Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

The Subregional Office for North and Central Asia will promote subregional cooperation, partnerships and knowledge sharing among the member countries, the private sector, civil society and other development partners for inclusive and environmentally friendly development for all.

As recommended by the 66th annual ESCAP Commission Session in 2010, the new subregional centre will focus on transport and trade facilitation, water and energy management and sustainable development including green growth. It will also support “The Astana Green Bridge Initiative” endorsed by the Asia-Pacific Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development organized by ESCAP in Astana on 1-2 October 2010.

It will also facilitate the UN Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia which is supported by ESCAP and the Economic Commission for Europe and covers five Central Asian economies, Afghanistan and Azerbaijan.

The Almaty Subregional Office joins other ESCAP subregional centres in the Pacific, East and North-East Asia, and South and South-West Asia. The South-East Asian subregion is currently covered by ESCAP headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand.

On an official visit to Kazakhstan, Dr. Heyzer joined the President of Kazakhstan H.E. Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev yesterday at the opening ceremony of the Fourth Astana Economic Forum where as moderator of the opening session she highlighted the “serious and pressing” challenges before the Asia-Pacific region. She stressed the need to address “not just the problems of today, but the threats of tomorrow as well as to maximize the new opportunities of our interdependent world.”