Environment and Development


ESCAP pursues a development agenda that focuses on integrating environmental sustainability into development policy making, in particular by turning resource constraints and the climate crisis into an economic opportunity that generates a double dividend of higher economic growth necessary to reduce poverty with lower environmental impact by improving the efficiency of resource use and increasing investments in human and natural capital.

Economic growth cannot be an end in itself. Gains from current growth have not been evenly distributed and environmental and social externalities are growing worse. However, poverty reduction and decent job creation are not possible without economic growth. This is why we need an economic growth with different economic, social and ecological qualities, such as high economic dynamism, social inclusion and ecological sustainability. The green growth approach, promoted in the ESCAP region since 2005, focuses on improving the ecological quality of economic growth as an important tool for sustainable development and is a key strategy for delivering the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.

These approaches underpin ESCAP’s direction in integrating environment and development policy making, and in addressing the challenges of rapid urbanization, water resource management and energy security. Recognizing that countries share many development challenges, but have different aspirations and development contexts, the secretariat is supporting building capacity, implementing pilot projects, facilitating the sharing of best practices and forging new approaches that can enable member States to better cope with emerging developmental challenges through the strengthening of regional cooperation.

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Green Growth and Green Economy

At the global level, green economy was called on by Rio+20 Summit in 2012. Asia and the Pacific have already pioneered the concept of green growth in 2005. Green growth – as a pre-requisite for building a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty reduction – was brought into the context of intergovernmental discussions for the first time at the Fifth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development (MCED) in Asia and the Pacific held in 2005 in Seoul, Republic of Korea.

Quality Of Growth

Rising inequality, persistent poverty, protracted unemployment, worsening energy, food and commodity price volatilities, and an urgent need to address climate change and resource constraints, are some of the signs that conventional economic growth strategies are no longer sustainable.

Urban Development

By 2020, the urban population of the Asia-Pacific region is expected to surpass 50 percent, and in 2050 it is estimated that over 3 billion people will live in the region’s urban areas.

Water Resources Management

Water is a cross-sector focus in addressing the challenges of the region as it underpins all socio-economic activities. The ESCAP secretariat promotes cooperation on management of international river basins in Asia.