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Blog Action Day 2009: Climate change and ageing

15 Oct 2009

There is no avoiding the impending threat of climate change and the impact it is already having around the world - most often affecting already struggling and developing regions of the globe.

Age change

Another phenomenon that is transforming the world as we know it and is often overlooked by organisations, governments and policy makers is global ageing.

By 2050, 1 in 5 people will be over 60. Globally, the number of people aged 60 plus will outnumber children aged 14 and under.

The missing link

Climate change and ageing are two of the most important issues facing humanity this century, yet explicit links between the two are rarely made.

So why does the climate change debate completely disregard the impact of climate change on older people?

At best, older people are mentioned as a "vulnerable group". But they are more than this - older people's knowledge and experience can help us reduce the effects of climate change.

HelpAge International has spoken to older people in Latin America, Asia and Africa about climate change and the results are extremely telling. Older people are very much aware of the impact of climate change and how it affects them and their families. For example:

  • increased vulnerability to extreme weather

  • more conflicts over natural resources

  • fewer opportunities to earn an income

  • food shortages.

These are all real threats. However, if we only highlight the dangers, we miss the valuable point that older people want to contribute to the climate change debate, but are often excluded.

They are frustrated that they do not have the scientific knowledge to explain what is happening and why, and what climate change means for them and future generations.

What are we doing?

Floods in Bolivia, crop failure in Kenya, coastal erosion in Bangladesh - these are all results of climate change that affect older people.

HelpAge is taking action on climate change. We are working to:

  • address climate change in regional disaster risk reduction strategies

  • raise awareness of the impact of climate change on older people

  • engage governments on climate change.

Older people must be included in the global debate on climate change.

They are not just another "vulnerable group" - engaging their skills and knowledge is to everyone's advantage.

Read more about HelpAge's work on climate change

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Author profile

Sarah Marzouk
Country: UK
Job title: Digital Communications

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