United Nations Asia-Pacific arm strengthens outreach to South and South-West Asia

The United Nations Asia-Pacific development arm today opened a new office in New Delhi for improved support to a region that is home to one of the fastest growing subregions in the world, as well as one of the largest concentrations of hunger and poverty.

H.E. Mr Jairam Ramesh, Minister of Rural Development and Minister of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Government of India joined the top United Nations official in the region, Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) at the launch of the ESCAP Subregional Office for South and South-West Asia (SRO-SSWA) in New Delhi.

“Given its location in a very vibrant subregion that has been a veritable laboratory for development experiences, the New Delhi SRO could be a springboard of ideas for the whole of the ESCAP system besides assisting the subregion in meeting its development challenges and fostering regional economic integration to close its development gaps,” Dr. Heyzer said.

The ESCAP New Delhi office will cover Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Turkey. Although South and South-West Asia includes some of the fastest growing economies in the world such as India and Turkey, the subregion trails in achievements of key international development goals with vast social and physical infrastructure development gaps within and among countries. Four countries in the subregion – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal – are least developed countries (LDCs) while Afghanistan, Bhutan and Nepal also face additional constraints as landlocked countries.

The subregional office in New Delhi will enhance ESCAP assistance to Member States in formulating and implementing inclusive and sustainable development policies for achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It follows up on the United Nations Secretary-General’s pledge to strengthen the development pillars of the United Nations.
The SRO-SSWA will focus on closing the development gaps, fostering inclusive growth and building productive capacities in the LDCs while facilitating connectivity within the subregion and boosting intraregional and South-South cooperation.

Working in partnership with international development agencies, national think-tanks and civil society organizations across the subregion, the ESCAP New Delhi office will leverage the work of ESCAP in the fields of environment and development, ICT and disaster risk reduction, macroeconomic policy and development, social development, statistics, trade and investment, and transport.

The SRO-SSWA will also work closely with other subregional offices and regional institutions of ESCAP across Asia and the Pacific. ESCAP has subregional offices for the Pacific, East and North-East Asia, North and Central Asia and regional institutions in Beijing, China; Bogor, Indonesia; Incheon, The Republic of Korea; New Delhi, India; and Tokyo, Japan.

About ESCAP: From its HQ in Bangkok, 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.

ESCAP provides different forms of assistance to Member States including analysis in various areas such as trade and investment, social development, transport, and environment and sustainable development. ESCAP then translates these findings into policy recommendations and provides knowledge sharing and technical assistance to Member States in the implementation of these recommendations.