Older persons ‘must be integrated into development efforts’ – UN

THE need to address the challenges of population ageing in the Asia-Pacific region by integrating older persons into development efforts at all levels has been highlighted at a high-level United Nations meeting in Bangkok.

More than 30 government representatives from the Asia-Pacific region, together with civil society, and academia are participating in the regional Intergovernmental Meeting on the Third Review and Appraisal of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA), hosted by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission of Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) this week.

The MIPAA was adopted by the United Nations in 2002 and its implementation will complement efforts to deliver on the globally agreed Sustainable Development Goals.

Opening the meeting, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP, Dr Shamshad Akhtar, emphasised that every older person should enjoy the same dignity and human rights accorded to other members of society.

“This review is critical in our efforts towards ensuring that older persons are recognized as an integral part of the social fabric, that their knowledge and experiences are cherished, and their contributions are appreciated and capitalized upon,” said Dr Akhtar.

The Asia-Pacific region is currently experiencing population ageing at a faster pace than any other time in history. It is expected that 1.3 billion people in the Asia and the Pacific will be aged 60 years or older by 2050.

Noting this growing urgency to address population ageing, the ESCAP meeting serves as a key regional platform to assess progress, identify gaps and formulate plans to implement the MIPAA over the next five years.

Meeting participants will focus on three key areas for the promotion of the rights of older persons in the region – older persons and development; health and wellbeing into old age; and providing enabling and supportive environments.

The meeting will develop priority actions for the regional implementation of MIPAA in 2017-2021 and its outcomes will form an important input to a global review, which will be conducted by the United Nations in early 2018.