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Capacity Development

Recent years have seen significant shifts in thinking on development cooperation. While official development assistance remains an important component, the focus has increasingly moved to partnerships for effective development, with South-South cooperation a critical and rapidly growing aspect. This shift is highlighted by the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, adopted at the Fourth High-level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, in December 2011. In this context, capacity development and knowledge sharing, especially among countries pursuing similar development paths, are increasingly becoming more vital factors for inclusive and sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region.

Capacity development is at the core of ESCAP’s technical cooperation programme. The main objective of our capacity development work is to develop the technical, managerial and institutional capacities of member and associate member governments to plan and deliver more effective policies and programmes in support of inclusive and sustainable development. We attach special attention to least developed and landlocked developing countries as well as small island developing states.

Key features of ESCAP capacity development programme include:

  • Integrated approaches - linking research and analytical work with practical solutions
  • Focus on transboundary issues – common solutions to common problems (energy, environment, sustainable urban development, transport, trade, connectivity)
  • Results-based approach (focus on results, rather than activities)
  • Fewer, bigger, deeper & longer projects
  • Closer relationship with partners/donors
  • Moving towards longer-term funding (current capacity development projects cover 3 years)
  • Multi-donor arrangements
  • Moving towards simplified substantive and financial reporting

ESCAP works with governments on three key modalities:

  • Policy advocacy and dialogue on critical and emerging issues, including follow-up to global and regional commitments;
  • Regional knowledge networking aimed at enabling members and associate members of ESCAP to share knowledge, lessons learned, and innovative practices; and
  • Training, advisory services and other forms of technical cooperation to strengthen the capacity of ESCAP’s members and associate members to formulate and implement effective policies and programmes in a range of key development areas.

Our capacity development programme is provided through the various ESCAP substantive divisions and subregional offices. Five ESCAP’s Regional Institutions also offer training focusing on information and communications technology for development, technology transfer, poverty alleviation and food security, statistics and sustainable agricultural and food production.

Our capacity development work is funded from both the regular budget of the United Nations and extrabudgetary resources. The regular budget includes the Regular Programme of Technical Cooperation and the United Nations Development Account.

Extrabudgetary resources include voluntary contributions from individual governments, entities of the UN system and other intergovernmental organizations, the private sector and NGOs. Such contributions are provided as cash (funds-in-trust) or assistance in kind, including the secondment of experts on a non-reimbursable loan basis and the provision of host facilities and equipment.

In 2020, the total cash contribution we received for our capacity development programme amounted to US$ 24 million. Bilateral donor contributions represented 61.9% of the total contribution or US$ 14.9 million.


Technical Cooperation Highlights 2020-2021

26 May 2022

As the regional arm of the United Nations, the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) promotes cooperation among countries in pursuit of solutions to sustainable development challenges across the Asia-Pacific region. ESCAP’s support to its member States is multifaceted, and includes action-oriented knowledge, technical assistance, and capacity-building services that support national development objectives, regional agreements and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In 2020, ESCAP repositioned its support to countries as they responded to the socio-economic crisis presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Socio-Economic Response to COVID-19: ESCAP Framework, outlines this strategy. The Framework consists of three streams of work united by the over-arching and cross-cutting principle of building back better. In addition, ESCAP’s Framework promotes forging regional and subregional solutions across the three broad areas, and in line with the priorities of the Regional Roadmap for the 2030 Agenda, especially the means of implementation.

The Technical Cooperation Highlights 2020-2021 tells the story of how ESCAP, drawing on over seventy years of regional cooperation and partnerships, has supported its member States over the past two years work towards the dual and interrelated objectives of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals while also recovering sustainably from the impacts of the global pandemic.

Learning and Training

In ESCAP's capacity building efforts the various sub-programmes of ESCAP develop e-learning courses, training programmes, tools and other online platforms to help member governments increase their institutional capacity to address development challenges as well as share technical knowledge in order that Asia and the Pacific can fulfill the 2030 development agenda.

Browse available learning and training programmes

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Strategy and Programme Management Division +66 2 288-1234 [email protected]