Recognize reality of a rapidly ageing Asia-Pacific region and revitalize the role of older persons in society, urges UN forum
Government officials, civil society representatives and international organizations today called for renewed momentum and swift action to advance the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA) in a regional review and appraisal convened on its 20th anniversary by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
The Asia-Pacific population is ageing faster than any other region in the world. There are now 630 million people aged 60 years or over, representing 60 per cent of the world’s older persons. By 2050, their number is projected to increase to 1.3 billion. The majority of older persons are women; they comprise of up to 61 per cent in the age group of 80 years or over.
“We must broaden the view of older persons by recognizing them as agents of development. With many parts of the region rapidly ageing, we must take concrete steps to provide environments in which our elders live safely, securely and in dignity and contribute to societies,” said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP.
Older persons in the region are also now facing deepened inequalities and heavily disproportionate impacts from emerging issues such as greater geopolitical volatility, the COVID-19 pandemic fallout, climate change and digital transformation.
“The challenges of the 21st century require that everyone young and old work together dispelling ageism. Although some progress has been made through MIPAA, older persons continue to be viewed as welfare recipients and a burden on society instead of vibrant, active persons with knowledge, skills and experiences that significantly contribute to economies, communities, and families,” said Eva Sabdono, Executive Director of Yayasan Emong Lansia, Indonesia.
“Inequalities get aggravated at an older age. Older persons must be able to exercise their human rights,” underscored Claudia Mahler, United Nations Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of All Human Rights by Older Persons.
“People are living longer lives. But we have not yet succeeded in building a society for all ages,” said Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General for the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. He added that implementing MIPAA will require forward thinking, rights-based and gender-sensitive policies.
Delegates at the regional review explored the following topics: (1) older persons and population development, (2) advancing health and well-being into old age, and (3) ensuring enabling and supportive environments.
They committed to invest in social protection and access to universal healthcare, foster lifelong learning opportunities and enhanced digital literacy for older persons, address age-based discrimination and barriers, apply a life-course perspective to population ageing, as well as invest in quality and affordable long-term care systems to reduce the reliance on unpaid care.
Aishath Mohamed Didi, Minister of Gender, Family and Social Services, Maldives was elected as Chair of the session and shared: “MIPAA as the global guiding framework covers all dimensions of population ageing in a holistic manner. The regional review provided the opportunities to take stock on these emerging issues (since 2002) and find the solutions forward.”
Adopted in 2002, MIPAA provides a comprehensive framework complementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the United Nations Decade of Healthy Ageing. Outcomes from the regional review will further inform the Fourth Global Review of MIPAA in 2023.
The organization of the meeting was supported by the Asia-Pacific Informal Regional Network of Focal Points on Ageing.