UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 11-- A senior UN official on Tuesday called for worldwide efforts to put people's needs at the forefront of development, saying the UN and its partners must take the lead in this regard.
Wu Hongbo, UN under-secretary-general for economic and social affairs, made the appeals while opening the 2014 session of the UN Commission for Social Development, which will run at the UN Headquarters in New York through Feb. 21.
The appeals came against the backdrop of a weak global economic recovery, harsh fiscal austerity measures, continued unemployment and an aging world population.
"Our attention should be given first and foremost to the issue of inequality, which in many case is a major cause for social turbulence worldwide," Wu said.
Kicking off the meeting, Wu, who is also secretary-general for the upcoming International Conference on Small Island Developing States, noted that inequalities undermine poverty reduction, economic growth and social mobility.
Too often, prosperity within countries is limited to the privileged few, and seven out of 10 people live in countries where income inequality has increased, Wu said, citing the 2013 Report on the World Social Situation.
"With high and growing inequalities, development cannot be sustained," he said. "But the right mix of social policies can curb inequality. Efforts to equalize opportunities and foster participation do make a difference."
Speaking on behalf of Martin Sajdik, president of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Vice President Carlos Enrique Garcia Gonzalez highlighted some of the events on the council's agenda this year.
In the countdown to the 2015 deadline of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the 2014 ECOSOC Annual Ministerial Review will focus on addressing on-going and emerging challenges in meeting the MDGs and in defining the sustainable development gains in the future, he said.
The MDGs are a set of eight anti-poverty targets to be reached by its deadline of 2015.
Among other upcoming events, Garcia highlighted the High-Level Political Forum on sustainable development to be held in July.
The forum, which was created to ensure that sustainable development tops the agenda of the highest levels of government and is embraced by all actors, replaces the Commission on Sustainable Development which concluded its work on Sept. 20.