French President Emmanuel Macron walks between Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri, left, and United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed before a meeting in Paris, Friday Dec. 8, 2017. It is the first major gathering of key nations to discuss Lebanon's future since a crisis erupted following Hariri's shock resignation last month while in Saudi Arabia. Hariri has since rescinded his resignation. (Philippe Wojazer, Pool via AP)

JOHANNESBURG - Amina Mohammed, the United Nations deputy secretary-general, has called on countries to accelerate inclusive and equitable economic growth and sustainable development that will not leave vulnerable populations, such as women and youth behind.

Mohammed, Nigeria’s former environment minister, made the appeal at the 56th session of the UN Economic and Social Council on Monday in New York.

“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 Mohammed.

“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".

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 globalisation and economic growth are shared by all, noting that globally, 45 percent 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 African Union 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted by UN Member States in 2015.

- African News Agency (ANA)