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World Economic Forum: Ageing on the agenda

28 Jan 2013

Social protection and ageing featured high on the agenda at the World Economic Forum. (c) Leila Anampour/HelpAge InternationalLast week, I was at the World Economic Forum. It was a productive few days, with lots of interesting discussions happening. Here are just some of the points I have taken from my time in Davos.  

On economics, politics and development

The world is now in less of an economic crisis than last year and there is more optimism. The idea that world leadership is in part shifting east to China and their influence in Africa came out strongly too.

It's great to see ageing on the agenda everywhere: China's ageing population is rightfully attracting attention and gives HelpAge a chance to get our message out that ageing is a global challenge and an opportunity.

For change to happen people power is crucial. Discussions were had around the importance of social movements and how technology is creating huge opportunities for organising timely action with and in the interests of older people. Indeed, democracies are developing around the world and citizens are more connected to and demanding more from their leadership.

On dynamic health systems

The focus here was on prevention and building stronger communities that can promote self-health. We also need to address the importance of a basic universal health system floor and build on this. 

There seems to be lots of innovation in the private sector. I gathered lots of great ideas for principles we could apply to our network to reach our goals in health and care and income security.

On the post-2015 discussion

There were some key comments from people talking about the post-2015 process:

  • David Cameron talked about not making a future framework that is too complicated and the need for measurable targets so governments are accountable. He highlighted property rights, access to justice and freedom from corruption as key areas to include. 
  • Queen Rania of Jordan stated that the gap between what many young people want and their realities are too wide in the Middle East. Better education systems could help.
  • Bill Gates commented that the new goals should be focused on the poorest and suggested updating the goals to include heart disease.
  • Gayle from CARE International spoke about the need to include climate change and to keep a gender dimension in focus.   
  • Helen Clark, the head of UNDP said she felt that social protection would feature in the post-2015 framework, which was very good to hear.
  • Paulson from Unilever highlighted the importance of equitable growth within the planet's boundaries, of which food security is a primary concern.

My take on these discussions was that the Sustainable Development Goals debate is very sensible, but it will be hard to transfer it into a framework and social protection floor. But we will keep trying!

Read more about how HelpAge is involved in the post-2015 process.

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Author profile

Richard Blewitt
Country: U.K
Job title: Former HelpAge CEO

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