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8 October: Third Committee opens: “Of all remaining development challenges, none are more daunting than rising inequality”As the target date for the Millennium Development Goals approaches, no challenge was more daunting than the continuing rise in inequality and its impact on vulnerable groups, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Wu Hongbo told the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today as it opened its annual session with a debate on social development.
“We must tackle rising inequalities and address the impact on vulnerable groups,” Mr. Wu said. Ahead of the Goals’ 2015 target, he said there had been significant achievements: the proportion of persons living in extreme poverty continues to fall; the population without access to safe drinking water had been halved; the prevalence of diseases had been reduced and access to health care improved; child mortality had been reduced; and more girls had been ensured the same opportunity as boys to attend school.
The significance of those achievements should not be underestimated, he said, adding “A child who is able to read is a future leader; a mother in good health is an entrepreneur-in-waiting.” But, even while acknowledging the accomplishments, the multi-faceted challenges ahead must be recognized, and ‘none is more daunting’ than rising inequality, he said. Since 1990, 62 out of 116 countries with available data have shown increased income inequality, slowing progress in poverty reduction and jeopardizing prospects for sustained growth. “The global jobs crisis has hit youth the hardest. Young women and men represent nearly 40 per cent of the 200 million jobless people worldwide. They are nearly three times more likely than adults to be jobless,” he said.
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