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“Full Arab integration, which takes into account its economic, social and cultural dimensions, can no longer remain a purely intellectual luxury. Rather, it is a strategic choice and a fundamental prerequisite for an Arab renaissance, which can provide security and welfare for people, and prosperity and invincibility for countries. In that context, and as the regional arm of the United Nations in this region, ESCWA must support its member countries in transforming this vision from a mere dream to reality.” Executive Secretary of ESCWA, Ms. Rima Khalaf

ESCWA is an important regional actor in the field of economic and social development. To amplify the impact of its normative and operational work, the organization enters into different types of partnerships and collaborative ventures with a host of global, regional, national and local partners. They include member countries, development agencies, intergovernmental organizations and agencies within and outside the United Nations system, civil society organizations and the private sector. Partnerships may be long or short-term, may or may not include financial transactions and can be wide ranging in scope or focused on specific outputs or activities. In all cases, ESCWA seeks to create maximum synergy and coherence through such partnerships. In general, they can be classified as follows: General Cooperation Agreements, Contribution Agreements and Funding Agreements.

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National Agenda for the Future of Syria: This programme examines development needs in the Syrian Arab Republic and assists a wide range of stakeholders in preparing a national agenda for the future of the country in terms of: economic recovery and reconstruction; social reconciliation and social cohesion; and institution-building, good governance and democratization. The aim is to develop pragmatic approaches to the post-conflict phase and thereby help the country to forge a new social contract and advance sustainable development. The programme has attracted funding from Norway, Germany, Italy and Finland.

Promoting Civic Values and Life Skills among Youth in Iraq: This project focuses on achieving quality education in both the formal and non-formal education systems in Iraq. It also develops institutional and human capacities in the promotion of civic values and life skills.  ESCWA is working to replicate this project in other countries in the region.

Regional Initiative for the Assessment of the Impact of Climate Change on Water Resources and Socio-Economic Vulnerability in the Arab Region (RICCAR): This Sida-funded project assesses the impact of climate change on water resources and its socioeconomic implications for the Arab region by creating a regional knowledge base, conducting regional climate modelling in a newly defined Arab domain and improving institutional capacity for assessment and informed decision-making.

Integrated and Transboundary Water Resources Management: This recently finalized eight-year project in collaboration with two German institutions, the Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe (BGR) and GIZ, helped to deepen cooperation between ESCWA member countries by building up bilateral and multinational working groups and committees for the management of shared water resources. The BGR provided advisory services to ESCWA and member countries on integrated management of shared water resources.

Transition, Transformation and Prospects for the Future in the Arab Region:

This project, funded by AFESD, the Islamic Development Bank (ISDB) and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), is designed to help Arab Governments and civil society actors to seize the window of opportunity created by emerging popular movements and to address economic, social and political challenges through regional consultations, normative analysis and case studies.



ESCWA and the League of Arab States are long-time partners in the region. The Commission views its partnership with the League as critical and the two organizations cooperate closely. They support the political processes leading to regional declarations and agreements on priority issues and have worked together to produce data in different areas of economic and social development. Cooperation is substantive, technical, financial and political.


ESCWA hosts the Regional Coordination Mechanism (RCM), an inter-agency meeting usually held twice a year to coordinate United Nations regional work programmes. Its mandate is to: 

  1. Promote strategic coordination and information-sharing at the regional and subregional levels among United Nations bodies;     
  2. Maximize collective action;
  3. Ensure thematic, policy and operational consistency across United Nations agencies in the Arab region.

Link to RCM website (

ESCWA partners include the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Labour Organization (ILO), UN Women, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).


ESCWA aims to build and strengthen partnerships with civil society organisations, think tanks and academic institutions.

ESCWA considers civil society organizations to be vital partners. Their perspectives enrich policy debates and contribute to operational activities, helping to bring about positive change in the economies and societies of the region.

ESCWA also seeks to partner with think tanks and academic institutions on areas of common interest and thereby deepen the expertise of the Commission.

ESCWA’s partners have included: the Arab NGO Network for Development, Common Space Initiative, Arab Centre for the Development of the Rule of Law and Integrity, Royal Scientific Society of Jordan and Centre for Migration and Refugee Studies at the American University of Cairo. ESCWA also works closely with the Arab Organization for Disabled People.


“The United Nations and the business need each other. We need your innovation, your initiative, your technological prowess. But business also needs the United Nations. In a very real sense, the work of the United Nations can be viewed as seeking to create the ideal enabling environment within which business can thrive.” United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Ban-Ki Moon

In its work with businesses, ESCWA follows the principles outlined in the Guidelines on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Business Community and the United Nations Global Compact, a policy initiative for businesses committed to the 10 universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and combating corruption.

Partnerships with the private sector include in-kind contributions, such as expert time, parallel financing of projects without transfer of funds, or earmarked or unearmarked financial contributions.