Asia and the Pacific, with over 4 billion people, accounts for more than 60 per cent of the world’s population. It is a diverse region, home to seven of the world’s most populous countries and many of the world’s smallest countries, several of which are located in the Pacific. Every country in the region is in the midst of a demographic transition but with different pace and timing. Fertility rates have declined steadily but there are still pockets where population growth rates remain high. Furthermore, adolescent fertility, which endangers the lives of both mother and child, is high in a number of countries. Internal migration and urbanization are driving the proliferation of megacities. The region is also facing increasing international migration and the ageing of its population.
ESCAP, in cooperation with other key United Nations agencies, has been playing a pivotal role in promoting awareness of population and development issues in the region. As a unique regional forum for countries in the region, and through its annual Commission sessions and decennial ministerial Asian and Pacific Population Conferences, ESCAP works towards increasing understanding of population issues and challenges and building consensus among countries in the region on the best ways to tackle them. While contributing to creating an environment conducive to the formulation of suitable population policies, the ESCAP population programme focuses on:
ESCAP has recently initiated the preparation for the Sixth Asian and Pacific Population Conference expected to take place in Bangkok in 2012.