The United Nations Social and Economic Commission for Asia-Pacific (UNESCAP or ESCAP,) shares its origins with UNECE: the United Nations “Temporary Sub-Commission on the Economic Reconstruction of Devastated Areas,” which convened in London on 29 July 1946. The ECOSOC established both regional commissions in successive resolutions adopted on the same day. This fact is explained by the impacts of World War II. Since then, the path taken by these two UN institutions could be easily understood in the framework of the world “Cold War“, and the trajectories followed by Russia and China since it came to an end in 1989.
Nevertheless, ESCAP reminds us of the Latin America and the Caribbean region (ECLAC). To mention a few, we can highlight the strong presence of middle-income countries and clear sub-regional divisions in both institutions:
- ESCAP gathers 53 very diverse countries and nine non-UN members partners. However, it also reunites five sub-regions: the Pacific, Eastern and North-eastern Asia, South and South-eastern Asia, South-East Asia and North-Central Asia.
- In line with the above, UNESCAP was built by building a step-by-step understanding among countries that used to be historical enemies, bringing together Asian sub-regions, and uniting developed and developing countries. China’s increased influence in the region during the last decades was part of the difficult task of pushing forward a dialogue between countries with different – and sometimes opposing – national, subregional, and global interests.
As a result, ESCAP’s development narrative started by Asian reconstruction efforts went through the “Asian Miracle” and now is tightly tied to sustainability promotion, regional integration, and the search for green and digital solutions to current development challenges.
Headquartered in Bangkok (Thailand), ESCAP has subregional offices in Suva (Fidji), Incheon (Rep. of Korea), New Delhi (India), Almaty (Kazakhstan); as well as five foremost regional institutions: the Asian and Pacific Training Centre for Information and Communication Technology for Development, the Asian and Pacific Centre for Transfer of Technology, the Asian and Pacific Centre for the Development of Disaster Information Management, a Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization, and a Statistical Institute for Asia and the Pacific.
This region will undoubtedly play a critical role in the future of world politics, shaping the future of sustainable development.