Countries must accelerate inclusive and equitable economic growth and sustainable development that will not leave behind vulnerable populations, such as women and youth, the United Nations deputy chief told the Commission for Social Development, which opened its annual session on Monday.

“We have achieved impressive reductions in extreme poverty, and major improvements in providing access to schooling and healthcare, and promoting the empowerment of women, youth, persons with disabilities, older persons and indigenous populations,” said Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed in her remarks to the 56th session of the intergovernmental body under the UN Economic and Social Council.

“However, the drop in extreme poverty remains uneven across regions, within countries and between various social groups,” she added, stressing a key role the Commission can play in addressing such challenges.

The Commission has been the key UN body in charge of the follow up and implementation of the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action adopted at the world summit for social development, held in the Danish capital in March 1995.

The theme of this year’s gathering is ‘Strategies for eradicating poverty to achieve sustainable development for all.’

Ms. Mohammed noted that while more than one billion people have risen above the $1.90-a-day poverty line since 1990, millions slide back into the threshold annually because of economic, environmental, health or other shocks.

“Of particular concern are the persistently high levels of poverty and deprivation among women and children, indigenous groups, older persons and persons with disabilities,” she said.

Among other things, she stressed the need to address unemployment and underemployment among the world’s young people and inequality between and within countries.

She also said that it is imperative to promote social policies and protection that ensure the benefits of globalization and economic growth are shared by all, noting that globally, 45 per cent of the people who need social protection have access to just one social benefit, while the rest – some four billion people – go without.

“This is unacceptable – and underscores the challenge we face in upholding our promise to leave no one behind,” she said, referring to the pledge made in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted by UN Member States in 2015.

“To fulfil that vision, I encourage the Commission to emphasize the imperative of accelerating inclusive and equitable economic growth and sustainable development, including full, productive employment and decent work for all,” she added.

She also noted that the Commission can support the Secretary-General’s efforts to reposition the UN development system to deliver on the 2030 Agenda, and continue to serve as a space for policy debate and the sharing of experiences.

The upcoming adoption by the Commission of a resolution on its methods of work is an important step that will establish the Commission’s identity for the period ahead, she said.

Also addressing today’s opening session was Liu Zhenmin, Under Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs, who said that while the Commission is meeting at a time when the global economy continues to show signs of improvement, “economic growth is not enough.”

While some 1.1 billion people have escaped poverty since 1990, many are still living barely above the absolute poverty line and remain at risk of falling below it again if impacted by disaster, illness, the loss of a job or lack of social protection. Going forward, it will be crucial to develop a comprehensive and integrated socioeconomic policy framework, he said.

For her part, Economic and Social Council President Marie Chatardová said the Commission’s deliberations on eradicating poverty will significantly contribute to the forthcoming UN high-level meeting on sustainable development. Policies produced during the session will serve to guide future generations, she noted, adding that the ECOSOC Youth Forum, which will begin on January 30, can benefit the Commission’s work by hearing young people’s perspectives.

Via UN News Centre