Rio +20: Including Older People in Sustainable Development
What is Rio +20?
The Rio +20 is a conference sponsored by the United Nations that will take place in Rio de Janiero, Brazil in late June. World leaders and thousands of representatives from the private sector, NGOs, and others will attend to continue the conversation on creating a global community dedicated to a more greener and equitable world.
What is the focus of the conference?
The conference will center around two themes: a green economy focusing on sustainable development poverty eradication and its institutional framework. Attendants will be able to take the opportunity to discuss environmental degradation and its connections with poverty. The goal of the conference will be to define clear plans to improve the international effort for sustainable development. Many specific areas have been targeted as "priorities" including food security, the energy crisis, and migration and displacement. However, the demographic changes and the worldwide aging population have received little attention. HelpAge International will have a critical role to play at the conference to ensure there is a focus on older people in the decision-making and outcomes of the conference.
What is sustainable development?
According the UNCSD, "Sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Seen as the guiding principle for long-term global development, sustainable development consists of three pillars: economic development, social development and environmental protection."
How does HelpAge fit in?
By 2050, older people will account for 22% of the global population, and today, 60% of the world's older people live in developing countries. We believe that the lack of discussion on aging and its repercussions has become a critical hole in the development debate. These discussions are vital to sustainability plans because demographic aging can create major shifts in a country's vulnerability economically and socially.
Richard Blewitt, chief executive director of HelpAge International, noted, "A focus on older people in the outcomes of the Rio +20 and a post-2015 framework is crucial as older people are affected by environmental change, are key contributors to sustainability and account for an increasing share of an ever growing global population."
Older people contribute to societies in a variety of ways - as leaders, consumers, workers, farmers, teachers, primary carers, business owners, health providers, and many more. In an aging and generationally interdependent world, these contributions need modern support.
There are many areas that can benefit from a more demographically inclusive approach. We are reaching out to national politicians and world leaders to remember the world's older people when they make their decisions at the conference. At the Rio +20, we will advocate to:
- Ensure that the voices and experiences of older women and men and their organizations are heard in national, regional, and global consultations and reflected in the reporting process.
- Build and use age-inclusive data sets to expose gaps when measuring poverty, inequality, capability, and wellbeing at national and international level.Ensure a focus on older people in the outcomes of the priority pillars of the Rio Summit 2012, as older people are both affected by environmental degradation and are key contributors to environmental sustainability.
- Create environmentally sound national energy srategies which recognize and address the energy and fuel poverty of vulnerable groups including older people.
Read HelpAge's discussion on emerging challenges of an aging world.