Launching the ESCAP Survey of Surveys

Dr. Shamshad Akhtar (center), United Nations Under-Secretary-General & Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), gives her remarks during the launch event of the 2014 Economic and Social Survey for Asia and the Pacific on 6 August 2014 in Bangkok, Thailand.
Photo Credit: UN ESCAP/Suwat Chancharoensuk

Distinguished Delegates,
Members of the Media,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

On the occasion of the 70th ESCAP Commission Session, I am pleased to unveil our new publication, entitled “Asia and the Pacific: A story of Transformation and Resurgence”.

This is a milestone: Seven decades of ESCAP chronicling the region’s unprecedented economic and social transformation, from the end of the Second World War, as captured in the annual Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific.

ECAFE, ESCAP’s predecessor, was asked by member States at the 2nd Commission session, in December 1947, to publish a comprehensive annual survey of economic conditions and problems of the countries within its scope. Since then ECAFE and ESCAP have focused on ensuring that the growth of the Asia-Pacific region positively transformed the lives of all people, from Bangkok to Beijing, from Ankara to Almaty and from Suva to Seoul.

Today I can say very proudly that ECAFE and now ESCAP has long been ahead of the curve in shaping ideas about economic and social development in the region, primarily through the annual Survey, and by facilitating the creation of a development consensus for the region.

The book we are launching today is a first-hand account of what was happening during periods of unprecedented change. It contains a succinct narration of reconstruction efforts and needs after the Second World War, as well as the development aspirations and endeavours of our member States.

This publication is also a short, thematic story of ECAFE-ESCAP’s contributions to shaping the ideas on economic and social development in the Asia-Pacific region. It provides an analytical narrative of the transformation of the region, from one plagued by pervasive hunger and deprivation, to the Asian miracle which has lifted billions of people out of extreme poverty. It tells how the region shifted from being at the periphery to became the centre of gravity for the world economy.

In short, it is an analytical story of the unfolding of the Asian drama. The publication clearly shows the ways in which ESCAP’s research and analysis offered a balanced view of the changing development paradigms, such as the relative role of the state versus the market, export promotion versus import substitution and trickle-down versus growth with equity, that influenced the choreography of the Asian drama.

Given the emerging development priorities and strategies for the next phase of global and regional development beyond 2015, this is a very timely publication, allowing as it does, for comprehensive reflection on these traditions and the vision of the ESCAP secretariat for the future development of the Asia-Pacific region.

It is the outcome of two years of dedicated effort that not only tapped into the resources of the United Nations system beyond ESCAP, but also reached out to former ESCAP staff to enrich the publication with their experiences and recollections as part of the organization’s institutional memory.

The publication follows the digitization and placing online of all Survey issues produced by the ECAFE/ESCAP since 1947. More than 15,600 pages are available in PDF format and as OCR-readable files at www.unescap.org/publications/surveys

I would like to thank our Macroeconomic Policy and Development Division for all of their hard work on this very important project.

I thank you.