October 1st is the UN International Day of Older Persons (IDOP).
Almost 700 million people are now over the age of 60. By 2050, 2 billion people, over 20 per cent of the world’s population, will be 60 or older. The increase in the number of older people will be the greatest and the most rapid in the developing world, with Asia as the region with the largest number of older persons, and Africa facing the largest proportionate growth. With this in mind, enhanced attention to the particular needs and challenges faced by many older people is clearly required. Just as important, however, is the essential contribution the majority of older men and women can make to the functioning of society if adequate guarantees are in place. Human rights lie at the core of all efforts in this regard.
Living up to the Secretary-General’s guiding principle of “Leaving No-One Behind” necessitates the understanding that demography matters for sustainable development and that population dynamics will shape the key developmental challenges that the world is confronting in the 21st century. If our ambition is to “Build the Future We Want,” we must address the population over 60 which is expected to reach 1.4 billion by 2030.
2019 Theme: “The Journey to Age Equality”
The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recognize that development will only be achievable if it is inclusive of all ages. Empowering older persons in all dimensions of development, including promoting their active participation in social, economic and political life, is one way to ensure their inclusiveness and reduce inequalities.
The 2019 theme is aligned with Sustainable Development Goal 10 (SDG 10) and focuses on pathways of coping with existing — and preventing future — old age inequalities. SDG 10 sets to reduce inequality within — and among — countries, and aims to “ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome,” including through measures to eliminate discrimination, and to “empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status.”
Often, disparities in old age reflect an accumulated disadvantage characterized by factors such as: location, gender, socio‐economic status, health and income. Between 2015 and 2030, the number of people aged 60 and over is expected to increase from 901 million to 1.4 billion. In this regard, trends of ageing and economic inequality interact across generations and rapid population ageing, demographic and societal or structural changes alone, can exacerbate older age inequalities, thereby limiting economic growth and social cohesion.
The 2019 theme aims to:
- Draw attention to the existence of old age inequalities and how this often results from a cumulation of disadvantages throughout life, and highlight intergenerational risk of increased old age inequalities.
- Bring awareness to the urgency of coping with existing — and preventing future — old age inequalities.
- Explore societal and structural changes in view of life course policies: life-long learning, proactive and adaptive labour policies, social protection and universal health coverage.
- Reflect on best practices, lessons and progress on the journey to ending older age inequalities and changing negative narratives and stereotypes involving “old age.”