Ageing in the 21st Century: Preface by Ban Ki-moon


 

"This timely report aims to raise awareness about the speed of population ageing and, more generally, about the experience of being old in our changing world.

"I recommend this report to a wide global audience to gain more insight into a topic which affects us all."

Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary General

This is a special year for ageing. The international community is observing the tenth anniversary of the Second World Assembly on Ageing, which was held in Madrid to respond to the opportunities and challenges of ageing in the 21st century.

At that time, Member States committed themselves to pursuing policies that would enable people everywhere to age with security and dignity.

A comprehensive International Plan of Action on Ageing was adopted which defined objectives and actions to be taken by Governments, the international community, and civil society to help create a "society for all ages".

Voices of older people

This report, a collaborative effort of the United Nations and other major international organizations working in the area of population ageing, sheds light on progress towards implementing this Plan.

It utilizes both a quantitative approach analysing policies and actions, and a qualitative approach bringing the voices of older persons themselves into the heart of the discussion.

Population ageing cannot be ignored

Population ageing can no longer be ignored. Globally, the proportion of older persons is growing at a faster rate than the general population.

This reflects tremendous and welcome advances in health and overall quality of life in societies across the world.

But the social and economic implications of this phenomenon are profound, extending far beyond the individual older person and the immediate family, touching broader society and the global community in unprecedented ways.

A celebration and a challenge

On the positive side, population ageing has opened up new markets and brought us more experienced workers, a growing cadre of custodians of culture, and caregivers of grandchildren.

But it is also presenting major challenges, most notably ensuring the sustainability of pension funds and the ability of already overburdened health-care systems to serve much higher numbers of people.

These implications, as well as the fact that new generations of older persons will be more educated, must be taken into account in policies and programmes that reflect changing age structures.

Protect older people's rights

This timely report aims to raise awareness about the speed of population ageing and, more generally, about the experience of being old in our changing world.

It recommends moving urgently to incorporate ageing issues into national development plans and poverty reduction strategies.

It also shows that abuse, neglect and violence against older persons are much more prevalent than currently acknowledged, and points the way towards more effective prevention strategies and stronger legislation that can protect their human rights.

The Second World Assembly on Ageing provided a framework for our response to the opportunities and challenges of ageing in the twenty-first century.

Include ageing in the post-2015 agenda

We have achieved solid progress, but there are many challenges still to be addressed. And as the international community now embarks on an effort to articulate the post-2015 development agenda, it is clear that the issue of population ageing should be fully addressed as part of this process.

I recommend this report to a wide global audience to gain more insight into a topic which affects us all.

Ban Ki-moon
UN Secretary General


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