The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) is the regional development arm of the United Nations for the Asia-Pacific region. With a membership of 62 Governments, 58 of which are in the region, and a geographical scope that stretches from Turkey in the west to the Pacific island nation of Kiribati in the east, and from the Russian Federation in the north to New Zealand in the south, ESCAP is the most comprehensive of the United Nations five regional commissions. It is also the largest United Nations body serving the Asia-Pacific region with over 600 staff.
Established in 1947 with its headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand, ESCAP seeks to overcome some of the region’s greatest challenges. It consists of eight mutually supportive subprogrammes (including statistics) which collectively aim to achieve the following three development results:
- Member Governments have more effective, inclusive and sustainable development policies for addressing development from a multi-disciplinary perspective, to narrow development gaps and build resiliency;
- Global processes are shaped by a stronger coordinated regional voice and countries are supported in implementing international commitments;
- Regional cooperation mechanisms and institutional frameworks are in place to promote regional integration and inclusive development.
ESCAP is uniquely positioned to support national statistical capacity development through promoting the development and implementation of international statistical standards by linking up to global statistics development initiatives and addressing regional perspectives and country needs. Targeting primarily producers of official statistics in national statistical systems but also aiming to influence data users (including policy-makers), ESCAP makes a difference not only for the improvement of basic social, economic, demographic and environmental statistics, but also in the development of new measurements and statistical standards required for addressing emerging policy issues. To achieve this objective, ESCAP works in close collaboration and coordination with other international, regional, subregional and bilateral development partners.
The Statistics Development Programme
The ESCAP Statistics Division is made up of two sections – the Statistical Development and Analysis Section and the Statistical Information Service Section. The priorities of the statistics development programme are derived from the ESCAP’s overall work programme priorities, the decisions and recommendations of the ESCAP Committee on Statistics – the highest strategic regional forum for leaders of national statistical systems in Asia and the Pacific – and other thematic consultation with ESCAP member States.
The programme contributes to:
- strengthened capacity of national statistical systems in ESCAP developing member States to collect, produce, disseminate and analyze data in accordance with internationally agreed standards and good practices;
- increased understanding among the policy-makers in ESCAP member States of the importance of proper use of statistics for evidence-based decision-making; and
- strengthened statistical cooperation and coordination at regional and inter-regional levels.
The statistical capacity development programme is a core element of the statistics subprogramme, and has direct linkages with its two other elements, namely statistical information services and statistical analysis of development trends. The information services and statistical analysis, which include such ESCAP flagship publications as the Statistical Yearbook for Asia and the Pacific and the regional MDG reports are not only dependent upon internationally comparable data produced by national and international statistical systems but also serve as critical means for advocating the need for statistics development.
To achieve real impact, the programme pursues a strategic mix of activities to address various needs for statistical capacity building, including advocacy, measurement development and standard-setting, targeted training, technical advisory services, knowledge-sharing workshops and tools, regional network of national experts and South-South cooperation.
Some of the projects implemented recently or currently include:
- joint ESCAP/UNDP/ADB project on supporting the achievement of Millennium Development Goals in Asia and the Pacific
- UN development account project on improving informal sector and informal employment measurement;
- UN development account project on improving disability measurement and statistics;
- joint UNSD/ESCAP activities to facilitate effective use of ICT tools for censuses – as part of both the 2010 World Population and Housing Census Programme and the ESCAP Regional Census Programme;
- ECLAC-led joint UN development account project on enhancing capacities to eradicate violence against women; and
- joint initiatives with relevant development partners aimed at developing regional programmes for improvement of economic, vital registration systems and gender statitics in Asia and the Pacific.
New regional programmes currently under development and implementation focus on promoting the improvement of economic statistics, vital statistical and civil registration and gender statistics in developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
In developing and implementing statistics development projects, ESCAP gives priority to the needs of developing countries in the region, particularly those with special needs for support, including the Least Developed Countries, Small Island States, and the Land Locked Developing Countries. In serving countries in Central Asia, ESCAP collaborates closely with UNECE to support the work of each organization.
SIAP ( See also separate entry on SIAP)
The Statistical Institute for Asia and the Pacific (formerly the Asian Statistical Institute) was established in 1970 as a centre for statistical training for the developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region and became a subsidiary body of ESCAP in 1995. It is based in Japan.
SIAP provides training of official statisticians to help strengthen national capacity to collect, analyse and disseminate timely and quality statistics. It also assists countries in establishing or strengthening national statistical training capacity and other related activities. Each year it conducts courses on Fundamental Official Statistics; Application of Information and Communications Technology to Production and Dissemination of Official Statistics; and, Analysis, Interpretation and Dissemination of Official Statistics. It also offers courses on Collection and Analysis of Official Statistics and Sample Design for Household and Establishment Surveys.
SIAP’s training programme includes an outreach component, consisting of country courses, advanced courses, research-based courses and sub-regional workshops and seminars designed to improve statistics on emerging policy issues. The Institute aims to develop and strengthen partnerships with both statistical training institutions in countries or statistical training units within governments and other national institutions, and with international, regional and sub-regional organizations for collaborative arrangements.
Received September 2010