Post-2015 negotiations: A historic opportunity to include people of all ages
There was yet another opportunity for the HelpAge network to take part in the post-2015 negotiations in a government-led forum, 11-14 February in Mombasa, Kenya.
As the post-2015 development agenda discussions continue, there is no doubt that demographic trends - particularly the growing number of older people - are having an unprecedented impact, presenting a global opportunity and challenge.
In 2014, there were 868 million women and men aged 60 and over worldwide. This figure is projected to reach 1.4 billion by 2030, or about 16% of the global population. Today, two-thirds of the world's older people live in low and middle-income countries and this proportion will rise to 80% by 2050.
Urgency for ageing to be acknowledged
As a result, there is a sense of urgency at the global and national level for global ageing to be acknowledged and for more efforts to be made to explore its implications. The ambition of the post-2015 agenda of universality and ensuring "no one is left behind" cannot be achieved if it is not sensitive to global ageing.
Many older people may continue to lead active lives as part of their communities but many are homeless, lack adequate care or are isolated.
Older people face many barriers to enjoying their rights and entitlements, as many suffer discrimination, poverty, violence and abuse. This is in part a result of governments not taking action to understand and support their ageing populations.
How to ensure older people are not left out of the SDGs
As these negotiations continue, including the development of the Sustainable Development Goals' indicators, it is important that Member States take certain steps to ensure older people are not again left out, as there were of the Millennium Development Goals.
I propose the following:
- Universality: Make explicit reference to "all persons of all ages" to underscore the universality of the post-2015 agenda.
- Human rights: Explicitly affirm that human rights for all are at its core and affirm the accountability of Member States to all their citizens, including older people.
- Life-course: Give priority to a life-course approach to development, with issues affecting people of all ages and abilities at the centre of sustainable development.
- Prior commitments: Prior commitments already made for marginalised and vulnerable groups must be honoured, including the 2002 Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA) and the World Programme of Action for Youth.
- Data: Emphasise the importance of reliable disaggregated data for older ages, segmented by age bands beyond the age of 60 up to and beyond 100. Millions of older people are denied basic services because people over 60 years of age are currently lumped together as a single homogeneous group, if they are counted at all. Women over the age of 49 - some 20% of the world's women - are still not included in major household surveys.
- Livelihoods and health: Older people must have opportunities to access decent work, social protection - including pensions - and affordable healthcare.
- Gender equality: Lifetime gender-based inequalities often result in older women experiencing financial and physical abuse and discrimination, along with poor health and increasing disability. Member States should consistently adopt the language of "girls and women of all ages" in the forthcoming negotiations and implementation of the new framework.
Dynamic and universal response to ageing
We look forward to a dynamic and universal response to ageing in the new development agenda. As population structures change, laws, policies, social attitudes and institutional practices must do the same to eradicate extreme poverty and achieve sustainable development.
For countries to make the most of increased life expectancy, governments must invest in secure, active and health ageing of their populations.
The UN Member States have a historic opportunity to ensure that the new development framework includes people of all ages and across generations, which they must not miss.
Find out more about the work we're doing on the post-2015 process.