June 2018
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ESCAP launches digitized version of intellectual history

For the first time in the nearly seven decades of its existence, the work of staff at the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) from over 60 years has been compiled, digitized and made available online. The “Intellectual History Project” launched today in Bangkok provides digital versions of the “ahead-of-the-curve” regional socioeconomic analyses ESCAP has been providing to Asia-Pacific policymakers since the Second World War.

The ESCAP Intellectual History Project will provide policy practitioners and academics access to analysis and advice contained in past editions of the annual ESCAP flagship publication Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific (Survey) starting with the first edition published in 1948 by the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE) as ESCAP was known until 1973.

Led by the ESCAP Macroeconomic Policy and Development Division (MPDD), the project involved digital scanning of over 15,600 pages which are available in PDF format and as OCR-readable files (readers can search and copy contents).

The logistical and technological challenges of compilation and digitization have been daunting. This involved first procuring hard copies of past Survey editions, seeking guidance on the digitization process from the United Nations Library Office in New York and Geneva and shipping the copies to a service provider in Auckland, New Zealand.

Launched on 19 December by Under-Secretary-General and ESCAP Executive Secretary Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, the project offers a snapshot of cutting-edge analyses that have shaped and transformed development discourse in the region over the years.

A perusal of the messages and discussions in past issues of the Survey, one of the oldest continuously produced annual publications in the United Nations system, shows these to be well ahead of their time and truly visionary in nature.

The Intellectual History Project is a public good through which ESCAP aims to generate awareness among the new generation of academics, policy practitioners and leaders in the Asia-Pacific region.

The digitized ECAFE/ESCAP Survey is accessible online at http://www.unescap.org/publications/survey.