Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)

HQ: Bangkok, Thailand

Focal Point: Mr. Stephen Rieger / Ms. Flavia Reale

Email: reiger [at] / falvia.reale [at] 


Key Figures: Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Key Figures: Waste


Key Figures: Water




As the regional arm of the United Nations, ESCAP plays a unique role as the only intergovernmental forum for all countries and territories of the Asian and Pacific region. ESCAP’s mission is to serve as the regional hub to achieve inclusive and sustainable economic and social development in the region through programmes on Macroeconomic Policy and Development, Trade and Investment, Transport, Environment and Development, Information, Communications, Space Technology and Disaster Risk Reduction, Social Development, and Statistics. 

Experience So Far


In our Environmental Management Systems (EMS) first cycle (2018 - 2022), we are focusing on facilities and operations. In the future, this work is envisaged to expand to our programmatic work after this first phase.

By establishing an EMS and keeping environmental considerations in the management of our facilities, ESCAP managed to achieve 10% electricity savings, 18% water savings, and increased its water recycling to 7% in two years. ESCAP’s air travel emissions decreased by 19% in the same period.

Our experience proved it is essential to have dedicated resources and adequate funding to achieve environmental management improvements and the required building modifications to impact utility consumption.

EMS and Reduction Efforts


In 2018, ESCAP established an Environmental Management System for its facilities and operations to mainstream and expand its environmental work. The EMS provides a systematic approach towards emission reduction and improves environmental sustainability in the following areas: energy, waste, water, meetings, and travel. All UN agencies located at the UN Compound in Bangkok are part of the EMS governance structure to ensure a One-UN approach and stakeholder involvement.

Since 2002, ESCAP has implemented a series of energy efficiency projects that have enabled ESCAP HQ to reduce the UN Compound’s total energy consumption by 30 % between 2003 and 2018. This improvement of energy efficiency brought about the decrease of electricity and reduced greenhouse gas emissions from 7,590 to 5,514 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year during the same period. This was achieved through building technical reviews and the corresponding retrofit projects based on a plan of progressive system improvements, with the replacement of building plant, machinery and equipment and the associated operating procedures of building systems. The reductions have primarily come from the air-conditioning systems, as cooling is required year round in Bangkok.

Energy saving projects include renovation and automation of elevators at the UN complex with regenerative braking, replacement of air handling units, pumps (chilled and condenser water), improvement of chiller operation, condenser piping and cooling tower upgrades, installation of energy efficient lighting, window seal replacement, installation of solar panels and wind turbines, to name but few. ESCAP has achieved these improvements through the regular budget system and thus have been incremental over the years.
With the Seismic Mitigation and Life Cycle Project injecting significant funds over the coming few years, we will implement many green design items within the renovation. This should result in the Secretariat building’s energy efficiency reducing its consumption by 16+% once the renovations are completed.



ESCAP has offset both its 2017 and 2018 GHG emissions by purchasing carbon emission reduction credits from certified projects in the region (14,000 CERs). In 2017, ESCAP organised its first carbon neutral meeting and developed a calculator (ECO tool) to estimate its meeting emissions and offset them. Since the establishment of the EMS in April 2018, the organisation has committed to offset all its main intergovernmental meetings’ emissions in its first EMS cycle (2018-2022). In 2018, ESCAP organised four climate neutral meetings.

Waste Management


ESCAP has established an accurate waste monitoring system at the HQ compound in Bangkok. Waste is recorded and sorted by type and building floor daily. In 2018, ESCAP recycled about 27% of all waste. In 2017, emphasis was put on waste reduction, especially for food waste.

Since then, ESCAP has been displaying daily food waste quantities at the cafeteria entrance to sensitize staff on the need for reduced food waste and the impact of daily food choices. In 2018, the focus was on single-use catering items. Over a 6-month period ESCAP phased out paper cups, plastic containers, plastic straws, plastic bags, thin film plastics, and plastic bottles.

The initiative goes beyond plastics, targeting all unnecessary single-use items used for catering operations, and helps to save up to 9 tons of mixed waste annually. Besides catering waste, ESCAP is also targeting construction waste by including waste management and prevention requirements in our construction projects.

Water Management


ESCAP tracks and reports its water consumption daily, monthly and annually. Water meters are installed, as well as submeters to measure the cooling towers’ usage. Based on the information collected, strategies were implemented to reduce the water usage especially regarding the HVAC system (Cooling towers account for 38% of ESCAP water consumption). HVAC operating hours were reduced, materials upgraded, reducing the amount of water used by 18% in two years. Wastewater is collected and treated before reuse for gardening purposes. ESCAP wastewater quality is regularly tested by specialised contractors to ensure compliance with local regulations and prevent any harm to the environment. 

Other Environmental Measures


ESCAP developed a methodology to calculate its meeting emissions which covers all emissions from travel, accommodation, venue, food, waste and local transport. The goal is to monitor the trends in meeting emissions in ESCAP and implement effective emission reduction strategies, while raising awareness among UN staff and meeting participants. In collaboration with UN Environment, emphasis is being put into proposing more sustainable menus for events and greening the compound’s catering operations. An Earth Hour Campaign is implemented daily at ESCAP Compound, switching off office lights during the lunch break. This is expected to save up to 90 tons of CO2 in a year and raise staff awareness. Additionally, photocopiers and printers have been replaced with multifunction network printers to improve paper use monitoring and reduce paper consumption. 

Next Steps


After the establishment of the EMS for the entire UN Compound, ESCAP is committed to continue with the implementation of the identified environmental actions and to regularly review its environmental management in compliance with ISO 14001 standard. This will help the organisation achieve continual improvement in its environmental performance. ESCAP has also supported the establishment of a sustainability task force comprising UN agencies and Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) in Bangkok outside the ESCAP compound. The task force serves as a platform to share best practices and move forward as One-UN in the greening of UN operations and facilities in the Country.

Sustainability at ESCAP
ESCAP and the 2030 Agenda

ESCAP case studies