Regional initiatives

Fostering Dialogue and Partnerships for Sound Environmental Management

In Asia Pacific, UNEP works at the regional, sub-regional (Northeast Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and South Pacific) and national levels. 

Work is focused on UNEP’s cross-cutting thematic priorities:

At the regional level, UNEP supports the Asia Pacific Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development, held every five years. This is a collaborative effort between the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Asian Development Bank, and UNEP.

UNEP co-chairs the Thematic Working Group on Environment and Disaster Management with UNESCAP and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The Thematic Working Group is part of the Regional Coordination Mechanism. The Regional Director is also a member of the UNDP Regional Directors’ Team.

UNEP established the Sub-regional Environmental Policy Dialogue (SEPD), comprising chairs of each of the five sub-regional intergovernmental bodies and five civil society leaders. The SEPD meets annually to discuss emerging issues and provide guidance to UNEP's programmes in the region. It advises UNEP on enhanced global and regional delivery, as well as identifying emerging environmental issues at the regional level.


At the sub-regional level, UNEP works to forge strong partnerships for collaborative and effective environmental management. It works with intergovernmental bodies, environment ministries, research organizations, international bodies, UN agencies, and Major Groups and Stakeholders to identify and address common and transboundary issues. The following is a brief description of countries and institutions UNEP works within each sub-region.

Northeast Asia

The Northeast Asia sub-region covers five countries: the People's Republic of China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Japan, Mongolia, and the Republic of Korea.  Northeast Asia has the following major intergovernmental fora: the Tripartite Environment Ministers Meeting, the North-East Asian Subregional Programme for Environmental Cooperation, the Northwest Pacific Action Plan, and the Greater Tumen Initiative.

Southeast Asia

The Southeast Asia subregion consists of eleven countries: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Viet Nam. There are two intergovernmental organizations, the Association of Southeast Asian Association and the Mekong River Commission. It also has an important cooperative programme called the Greater Mekong Sub-region Economic Cooperative Programme.

South Asia

The South Asia subregion consists of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. There are three intergovernmental organisations: the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation, South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme, and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development. UNEP has signed agreements with all three institutions and works actively in the sub-region.


The Pacific sub-region consists of 21 Pacific Island Countries and Territories and has a number of regional agencies, including intergovernmental organizations. The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme covers environment and sustainable development issues, whereas the South Pacific Applied Geosciences Commission focuses on non-living resources, ocean management, hazard assessment, and geosciences. The Council of Regional Organizations of the Pacific facilitates coordination amongst the ten regional organizations.UNEP works closely with SPREP.


At the national level, UNEP works closely with partners under the “Bali Strategic Plan for Technology Support and Capacity Building” to provide systematic and targeted capacity-building for integrated environmental assessments and action plans on current and emerging issues.