UN forum calls for revitalizing role of older people in society

Asia-Pacific region aging rapidly

Government officials, civil society representatives and international organizations today called for renewed momentum and swift action to advance the Madrid International Plan of Action on Aging (MIPAA) during a review and a regional assessment organized on the occasion of its 20th anniversary by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

Asia-Pacific’s population is aging faster than any other region in the world. There are now 630 million people aged 60 or over, representing 60% of the world’s older people. By 2050, their number is expected to rise to 1.3 billion. The majority of older people are women; they represent up to 61 percent in the age group of 80 years or more.

“We need to broaden our view of older people by recognizing them as agents of development. As many parts of the region age rapidly, we must take concrete steps to provide environments in which our elders live safely, securely and with dignity and contribute to societies,” said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Secretary Deputy General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of ESCAP.

The region’s older people also face increased inequalities and highly disproportionate impacts from emerging issues such as greater geopolitical volatility, the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and digital transformation.

“The challenges of the 21st century demand that everyone, young and old, work together to dispel ageism. Although progress has been made through MIPAA, older people continue to be seen as recipients of social assistance and a burden on society rather than as dynamic and active people with knowledge, skills and experiences. that contribute significantly to economies, communities and families,” said Eva Sabdono. , Executive Director of Yayasan Emong Lansia, Indonesia.

“Inequalities worsen in old age. Older people must be able to exercise their human rights,” said Claudia Mahler, UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older people.

“People are living longer. But we have not yet succeeded in building a society for all ages,” said Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. He added that the implementation of MIPAA will require forward-thinking, rights-based and gender-sensitive policies.

Regional review delegates explored the following topics: (1) older people and population development, (2) promoting health and well-being into old age, and (3) ensuring conducive and supportive environments.

They pledged to invest in social protection and access to universal health care, to foster lifelong learning opportunities and to improve the digital literacy of older people, to fight against discrimination and age-related barriers, apply a life-course perspective to the aging population, and invest in quality and affordable long-term care systems to reduce reliance on unpaid care.

Aishath Mohamed Didi, Minister of Gender, Family and Social Services of the Maldives, was elected Chair of the session and said: “MIPAA, as a global guiding framework, covers all dimensions of population aging from holistic way. The regional review provided an opportunity to take stock of these emerging issues (since 2002) and find solutions for the future.

Adopted in 2002, the MIPAA provides a comprehensive framework complementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the United Nations Decade for Healthy Ageing. The results of the regional review will further inform MIPAA’s fourth global review in 2023.

The organization of the meeting was supported by the Informal Asia-Pacific Regional Network of Focal Points on Ageing.

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Melvin B. Baillie