Regional Agencies



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UNECE UN Economic Commission for Europe

UNESCAP UN Economic & Social Commission for Asia & the South Pacific

UNECA UN Economic Commission for Africa

UNECLAC UN Economic Commission for Latin America & the Caribbean

UNESCWA UN Economic & Social Commission for Western Asia


United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)

Incorporating countries from North America, Western, Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the UNECE is the forum forging the tools for their economic co-operation. Moreover, as a forum for dialogue, the Commission aims to bring about a better understanding and fuller agreements on common guidelines and policies. It also provides a stage where agreements are negotiated and assistance activities prepared. The main purpose of these activities and objectives is to harmonise the policies and practices of its member countries. Not only does this harmonisation facilitate economic exchange investment, and the integration of transport networks, but also makes environmental procedures more effective.

The ECE’s position as a regional UN agency allows it to contribute to the dissemination of conventions and standards negotiated under the its auspices to other interested UN members states. In addition, it is able to represent the region's concerns and problems at UN world conferences. The ECE is also able to cross the boundaries of other regional institutions such as the European Union, NAFTA and the Commonwealth of Independent States. This position enables the Commission to reduce cross-border tensions and disagreements between these, and other, agencies whilst representing the interests of its members at large.

The ECE defines its activities at its annual formal sessions where it reviews the economic situation in the region and decides its work programme. The programme of work is based on proposals from members, its own initiatives and decision adopted by the United Nations General Assembly &/or the Economic & Social Council (ECOSOC). In return the Commission then submits its recommendations to its parent body, ECOSOC. In addition, quarterly meetings are held to focus on specific questions.

Undertaking the activities defined at the annual sessions are 14 principle subsidiary bodies, and approximately 30 working parties of experts to cover the various prescribed sectors. To support its work the Commission produces publications and studies. Principally these include the Economic Survey of Europe and the Economic Bulletin for Europe.

For further information on the ECE please refer to:

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UN Economic & Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP)

ESCAP has been working since World War II with governments from the region to address problems relating to poverty eradication, education, social rebuilding, deteriorating environment and infrastructure needs. Operating as the main UN agency in the Asia and Pacific region, ESCAP works to benefit the people of the region in regards to social and economic development.

ESCAP undertakes a number of sub-programmes through which it initiates its objectives. These include:

Through its Regional Economic Co-operation programme, ESCAP works to strengthening regional economic co-operation for promoting trade, investment and technology linkages, and accelerating industrial development.

To address Sustainable Development, ESCAP undertakes Environment and Natural Resources Development. The programme is designed to enhance national capacities in achieving environmentally sound development, in line with the provisions of Agenda 21.

The Social Development programme is based on awareness raising regarding human resources and women in development, with specific reference to poverty alleviation. It deals with family support, quality of life and social policies, which addresses all social groups.

The Population & Rural/Urban Development programme focuses on the identification and understanding of social and economic issues in the areas of population and development. The programme addresses policy makers and civil society in the alleviation of poverty relating to development.

ESCAP also operates other programmes relating to Transport, Communications, Tourism, Infrastructure Development and Statistics.

For further information on the Commission please refer to:

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Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)

ECA’s primary responsibility is to carry out activities encouraging the growth of economic and social sectors on the continent. In addition, it operates as part of the network of African inter-governmental institutions and organisations that implement the agendas for development adopted by member states.

The Commission focuses its work on capacity building, facilitating government process’ on positions on development policies, promoting dialogue and analysis of issues through conferences. In undertaking these objectives, the ECA introduced major institutional and managerial reforms, which defined 5 core programmes of work and 2 cross cutting themes. These are as follows:

Facilitation of Economic and Social Policy Analysis, to serve member states with timely and influential information on new issues and opportunities.

Ensuring Food Security and Sustainable Development to ensure national efforts which link food security, population and environmental sustainability.

Strengthening Development Management, to aid national ownership of the reform programmes and to create enabling environments for development.

Harnessing Information for Development, to enhance the information revolution in Africa. Ensuring information services are a major focus of national attention with international support.

Promoting Regional Co-operation and Integration, to support efforts aimed to establish and expedite regional economic co-operation and integration.

Cross cutting themes are:

Fostering leadership and Empowerment of Women in Africa, to improve socio-economic conditions of women and to enhance women’s involvement in decision making.

Enhancement of ECA capabilities, to upgrade ECA capacity in information and communications technology, via staff training and engaging the public through mass media.

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Economic Commission for Latin America & the Caribbean (ECLAC)

Established in 1948, ECLAC’s broad mandate is to promote economic and social development through regional and sub-regional co-operation and integration. The commission undertakes studies and research programmes supporting its objectives and disseminates its findings to governments to help plan, organise and execute national projects of technical co-operation.

The Commission acts as a co-ordinating body in formulating and promoting development assistance activities in reflection of the needs and priorities of the region. To provide a forum for debate within the region of its economic and social development, ECLAC hosts conferences, and intergovernmental expert group meetings, whilst also sponsoring workshops and seminars.

ECLAC’s specific activities and projects surround: balancing the short term economic policy of the region with medium and long term perspectives; analysis of structural inflation complemented with studies on the formulation and implementation of stabilisation and adjustment programmes; incorporating environmental dimensions into economic and social concerns to explore the link between natural resources and development; forging links between governance and policy variables as they relate to the development process.

Through these processes, ECLAC seeks to develop a regional perspective to global problems and forums, and to introduce concerns about these issues at regional and sub-regional levels. The Commission provides a link and a voice for the region in co-ordination with major UN agencies and departments, as well as other specialised agencies and inter-governmental organisations.

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The Economic & Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA)

ESCWA, originally established in 1973, is the principal organ of the UN responsible for co-ordinating the economic and social activities of the UN system for the region. Smallest of the regional economic commissions, ESCWA consists of 13 member states. Its mandate includes functions to promote economic and social development through regional and sub-regional co-operation and integration, whilst serving as the main forum for economic and social development within the UN system for the region.

The Commission undertakes its mandate through the following functions: formulating and promoting development assistance activities and projects reflecting the needs of the region; organising conferences and inter-governmental and expert group meetings, including sponsoring workshops and seminars; carrying out research and surveys within the terms of reference of the Commission; to liase, complement and co-ordinate activities with other UN agencies and inter-governmental organisations.

The Commission defined its medium term programme of action at its 19th Session in 1997. This set out the Commission's work programme from 1998 to 2001. Issues discussed included transport, international trade, and water resources. The Commission also progressed its plans to establish its permanent headquarters in Beirut.

For further information on the Commission please refer to:

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