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


There is a need for dedicated resources and adequate funding to achieve environmental management improvements and the required building modifications to impact utility consumption. . With the upcoming Seismic Mitigation and Life Cycle Retrofit project ESCAP will replace and upgrade many old systems with an expected 16-18% energy efficiency improvement to the Secretariat building when completed.


EMS and Reduction Efforts


In 2018, ESCAP established an Environmental Management System for its facilities and operations to streamline 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 25 % between 2003 and 2017. This improvement of energy efficiency brought about the decrease of electricity and reduced greenhouse gas emissions from 7,590 to 5,692 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year during the same period. This was achieved through building technical reviews and the corresponding retrofit projects with regard to replacement of building plant, machinery and equipment and the associated operating procedures of building systems, such as air-conditioning, to reduce utility consumption.

Energy saving projects include renovation and automation of elevators at the UN complex, replacement of air handling units, pumps (chiller & lift) and condenser water pumps, improvement of chiller operation, installation of energy saving lighting, replacement of standby diesel generating sets, upgrading of all fire doors and seals, installation of solar panels and wind turbines, etc. 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, we should see significant energy efficiency improvements by its completion (2023/4).




ESCAP has offset its 2017 GHG emissions by purchasing carbon emission reduction credits from certified projects in the region. 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).


Waste Management


ESCAP has established an accurate waste monitoring system at its HQ compound in Bangkok. Waste is recorded and sorted by type and building floor daily. In 2017, ESCAP recycled about 27% of its waste. In 2017, emphasis was put on waste reduction, especially for food waste. Daily, food waste quantities are shown at the cafeteria entrance to sensitize staff on the need for reduced food waste and the impact of our daily food choices. ESCAP is banning onsite single-use plastics for catering operations. The initiative goes beyond plastics, targeting all unnecessary single-use items used for catering operations. A new catering item is being banned and replaced with reusable options monthly/bimonthly until December 2018, when the ban will be completed. This initiative is expected to save up to 9 tons of waste annually. ESCAP is also integrating waste management and prevention in its 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 33% of ESCAP water consumption). HVAC operating hours were reduced, materials upgraded, reducing the amount of water and energy used. Wastewater is collected and treated before reuse for gardening purposes or. ESCAP waste water quality is regularly tested by specialised contractors to ensure compliance with local regulations.


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 an EMS for the entire UN Compound, ESCAP is committed to implementing the identified environmental actions and to regularly review its environmental management in compliance with ISO 14001 standard. This will help the organization 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) present in Bangkok outside the UN compound. The task force will serve as a platform to share best practices and move forward as One-UN in the greening of UN operations and facilities in the Country.

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