UNESCAP: United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

Committee Overview

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) is a UN regional commission that promotes economic cooperation among its 53 member states and nine associate members. The commission serves as the primary legislative organ of ESCAP and the highest intergovernmental regional platform. UNESCAP works to fulfill the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Goals, provide capacity building and technical assistance to governments, and promote water management approaches. Specifically, the commission supports the monitoring and coordination efforts to achieve SDG 6: clean water and sanitation for all. UNESCAP members meet once a year to discuss and decide on sustainable economic and social development recommendations for Asia and the Pacific.

Topic A: Promoting Small Enterprises in Asia and the Pacific

Many businesses in the Asia-Pacific region are micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). MSMEs play an important role in a country’s economy. However, they don’t have the resources and skills of bigger businesses. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted many vulnerabilities that MSMEs face, such as easy access to financing. For women-owned MSMEs, social and cultural norms may also pose unique challenges. Governments are trying to help these MSMEs where they can. Although new digital platforms have helped increase access to finance, many people still don’t know finances or technology well enough to use them. Estimates indicate that 600 million jobs will be needed by 2030 due to a larger global workforce. MSME development must be a high priority for governments in the Asia-Pacific region, as MSMEs provide outstanding upward economic mobility. Today’s small business leaders represent the future of developing economies. Therefore, UNESCAP must take concrete steps to support these innovators.

Topic B: The Economics of Human Trafficking

The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that 40 million men, women, and children have been victims of human trafficking. Alarmingly, over two-thirds of these victims are from the Asia-Pacific region. Poverty and exploitation of migrant workers are some of the causes leading to these high numbers. Forced labor, one of the most common forms of human trafficking, produces an estimated USD 150 billion annually. This amount is often used to finance criminal organizations, allow corrupt governments to stay in power, and weaken global stability. Increasing child trafficking has been “linked to the alarming increase in online child pornography,” a business that makes up to USD 20 billion annually. Businesses also take shortcuts to meet the high demand for products. This can mean using raw materials or working with lower-cost manufacturers, which may only be possible due to modern slavery. The growth and severity of human trafficking in the region demand immediate action to stop this lucrative business. Delegates must examine the economic motives of traffickers and strengthen laws to eradicate these gross human rights violations.