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MDGs: No room for the world's older people

03 Jul 2012

The Millennium Development Goals Report 2012 launched this week, made no mention of global ageing. This is not surprising, since the existing MDG framework makes age group disaggregation impossible.

However, global ageing is one of the most fundamental issues of our time. Already there are more people over 60 than children under five. The proportion of older people in the developing world is rising at an unprecedented rate.

Include older people in policies

The Second World Assembly on Ageing in April 2002, called for action to include older people in development and halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty by 2015.

By 2050, one in three persons living in developing countries will be over 60.Sadly, very little progress has been made since then.

It is absolutely crucial that all future development policies, at international and national levels, respond to this mega trend.

HelpAge and its global network are working hard to ensure that any framework to succeed the MDGs is age-inclusive. Our hope is that older people are seen, heard and understood in the 2015 consultation processes.

Ageing and post-2015 agenda

Ageing was also mentioned as a global trend and challenge to which the post-2015 agenda should urgently respond, in the first report published by the UN System Task Team supporting the post-2015 agenda. The report states that:

"Overall progress in human development worldwide has contributed to dramatic reductions in mortality rates and an increase in longevity. As a result, the world population is ageing rapidly.

"By 2050, one in three persons living in developed countries, and one in five in what currently constitute developing countries, will be over 60 years of age. Declining and ageing populations are already putting large pressures on pension and health systems, especially in developed countries, but increasingly also in some developing countries.

"The challenges are manifold, including the needs to redesign pension systems so as to ensure economic security for all in old age while sustaining financial viability; to enhance health and longterm care services to keep ageing populations healthy and active; and to enhance opportunities for older persons to actively participate in society."

We will continue to work with the UN, national governments and civil society to ensure that action is taken to support these promising words.

What we want

We have put forward the following recommendations for the post-2015 process to respond to the challenge of global ageing:

  • The opportunities and challenges of global ageing should be central to the post 2015 agenda. 
  •  Policies supporting the contributions of active, secure, resilient and healthy ageing populations must be supported and reflected in the outcomes of a post-2015 development framework. 
  • National social protection mechanisms for the poorest and most vulnerable, including regular income through social (non-contributory) pensions, and investment in primary healthcare systems are key to addressing poverty, protecting older people and creating opportunity.

What you can do

Download our Mainstreaming ageing into the post-2015 process policy brief

Sign our Age Demands Action petition calling for a convention on older people's rights.

Your comments

Aijaz Ali Khuwaja

We must respect our aging population. They all are founders of a new developed society everywhere in world.

Marystella Mtalo

Elders in most of our countries in Africa have been left without any support.African Government should set budgets to help this vulnerable group as they participated in development activities in the past with all their efforts. It is not fair to ignone them, or leaving them suffering.

Ratan Chandra Baral (Ratul)

good target

Mohammad Ahsan Khan

Beyond 2015 Millennium development goals have been failed to take into account the issues and problems of many vulnerable groups including youth, old age and disable people. This indicates the poverty of mind at policy and decision making levels of UN, World Bank and many other global players. A monolithic structured approach was used to conceive and realize the development agenda. It seems that MDGs regime was proposed in ideal conditions for people having certain needs related to water, health, education, environment, child mortality, HIV aids etc. whereas many issues of disaster management, peace & conflicts and food security were ignored thus making development a typical target oriented empirical phenomenon. Unlike people centered participatory development planning, a lop sided techno-centric narrative was used to inform development discourse. The progress made by MDGs regime and its contribution in minimizing the world problems needs critical review and accountability mechanisms which are not in place. The proponents per se cannot hold themselves accountable; an independent review is needed by people at grassroots level. Post 2015 consultations made by civil society organizations all over the world speak volumes of issues. In 2000, MDGs were supposed to be realized by member states and what have been the results of respective government there exists no official documentation.

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Author profile

Anders Hylander
Job title: Network Comms Officer

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These blogs are personal reflections and do not necessarily reflect the views of HelpAge International.