Older campaigners call on world leaders to "light the way" ahead of key UN summit

Older activists will illuminate cities around the world as part of a global campaign to 'light the way' to a future where older people can live in dignity, free from suffering, poverty and neglect.

Older campaigners will host events and candlelit vigils, as part of action/2015's final mobilisation before world leaders formally adopt the 17 goals and 169 targets of the new Sustainable Development Agenda at the United Nations summit taking place from 25-27 September 2015.

"Better planning, collection, disaggregation of data and accountability has to be a process that involves older people. Whatever you plan to do, if it happens without us it could be against us," said Esther Wamera, 78, an older leader from Kenya.

"Let us come together as one people, one nation, and achieve this goal in our time. Not leaving anyone behind."

action/2015's campaign, supported by Desmond Tutu and Malala Yousafzai, has taken place throughout the year to raise awareness of the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals. Member states will agree to tackle some of the most urgent issues of our time - poverty, access to health for all and climate change.

The post-2015 Development Agenda is a universal framework, for all countries and all people and aims to promote shared prosperity and well-being for all over the next 15 years. Older people worldwide have high hopes that the new agenda will mean real change but the new sustainable development agenda is not business as usual. None of the goals can be met unless they include older people.

During action/2015's campaign, older activists have shaken hands with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and met Amina J Mohammed, his Special Advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning, in July during the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. They discussed how older people should have a voice in development processes to ensure their rights and needs are addressed.

"Older people have been left out of the development agenda for too long," said Toby Porter, Chief Executive Officer at HelpAge International.

"action/2015 has empowered older people around the world into standing up and demanding that they are counted. Age is mentioned in 15 out of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. This is huge progress and we have the tireless, energetic campaigning of older activists to thank".

Already, more than 30 million people have taken action with action/2015, one of the world's largest civil society campaigns made up of over 2000 organisations, networks and coalitions from 150 countries.

In May, Desmond Tutu, 83, endorsed HelpAge's efforts in the action/2015 campaign, saying: "I want to tell the world that I count, that older people everywhere count and that people of all ages should be included in the Sustainable Development Goals."

Award-winning musician, Avril, alongside older musicians from Kenya, launched a campaign song entitled Hoja Zetu earlier this year, calling on younger and older people to come together and demand that their voices are heard.

Actions will take place in more than 70 cities around the world on September 24th, including Kathmandu, London and Addis Ababa, culminating in New York at a spectacular light show 'under one sky' in Dag Hammarskjold Place, a stone's throw from the UN headquarters in New York.


Notes to editors

International media contacts: Sarah Gillam, Media Relations Manager, HelpAge International, tel: +44 (0) 20 7148 7623; mobile: + 44 (0) 7713 567 624; email: sarah.gillam@helpage.org; Skype: sarah.gillam.hai

Ed Knight, Media Intern, HelpAge International, tel: + 44 (0) 20 7148 7606; email: edward.knight@helpage.org; Skype: edward.knight.hai

For more information on the action/2015 campaign: Jemma Stovell, Campaigns Officer, HelpAge International, email: jemma.stovell@helpage.org, Skype: jemma.stovell.hai

The HelpAge global network has been involved in action/2015 in 14 countries since its launch in January this year. Older activists have been joining with younger people calling for people of all ages to be included within the new framework so they are not left behind.


action/2015 is calling on leaders to commit to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals. This includes a commitment to:

  • Walk the Talk: have a clear implementation plan, developed with the active participation of citizens - especially marginalized groups and local communities. 
  • Finance Our Future: ensure sufficient financial flows are made available to deliver all the goals in time. This should include domestic and international funding, meeting existing spending commitments and tackling unfair tax systems.
  • Be Accountable & Transparent: Monitor and communicate progress on implementing the goals. Parliaments, civil society organization and existing human rights and other existing reporting mechanisms should be central to this process.

You can follow the conversation on social media using:
#LightTheWay #ActionAllAges #GlobalGoals #Action2015

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