Our Work

Social Development Division Overview

“Protection, Empowerment and Equality:  ESCAP supports the building of a socially inclusive society for all in Asia and the Pacific, including women, youth, persons with disabilities and older persons”.

Asia-Pacific is a region of great diversity and disparity, presenting a contrasting picture in terms of progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals —a set of eight time-bound and measurable goals to reduce poverty and advance overall development.

Despite dynamic economic growth, which has helped lift millions of people out of poverty, the region still accounts for over 950 million people living on less than $1.25 a day. In the coming decades, emerging challenges may further strain the fabric of societies and erode social cohesion, from rising socio-economic disparities within and between countries, to rapid population ageing, youth unemployment, increasing migration, and the impact of climate change.

Against this backdrop, ESCAP works towards supporting member States to shape a more inclusive society that protects, empowers and ensures equality for all social groups.  Particular focus is given to the needs of women, youth, persons with disabilities, older persons and people living with HIV. Guided by internationally agreed commitments as well as regional mandates, ESCAP helps countries in the region to better prepare for emerging population and social challenges and tackle persistent ones.

Building on its strength as the most comprehensive regional intergovernmental forum in Asia-Pacific and its unique convening authority, ESCAP promotes change at the policy and institutional levels, working to support governments in the formulation and implementation of social development policies and programmes.  

To provide a sound basis for governments’ policy decisions, ESCAP conducts applied research on social policy options, strategies and programmes.  It promotes regional cooperation and assists countries in reaching consensus to accelerate the implementation of internationally agreed commitments to promote the social integration of vulnerable groups and gender equality. For more details about the different thematic areas in which the Social Development Division is involved, visit our Issues pages.