The 61st Commission for Social Development concluded yesterday with the adoption of a resolution calling for acceleration of the implementation of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA). The Commission session concluded the fourth global review and appraisal of MIPAA, which marked the 20th anniversary of its adoption and reviewed member State progress for the period 2017-2022 towards MIPAA objectives to respond to the opportunities and challenges of population ageing and to promote the development of a society for all ages. Representing the UNECE region, the Chair of the Standing Working Group on Ageing Mr. Alfredo Ferrante (Italy) shared findings from the regional MIPAA review at the High-level Panel discussion on the Fourth Review and Appraisal on 8 February.
In response to disparities within and across regions in progress, the newly adopted resolution encourages all member States to accelerate efforts to implement MIPAA and mainstream ageing into their national policy agendas. The resolution recognizes the importance of the regional reviews and calls upon member States to strengthen their cooperation with United Nations regional commissions towards equal, full, and meaningful participation of older persons in society. The resolution also calls upon the Secretary-General to strengthen the work of the regional commissions on ageing to enable them to enhance their regional MIPAA implementation activities.
The resolution reaffirms the outcomes of the review of MIPAA in the UNECE region, which concluded last year with the 5th UNECE Ministerial Conference on Ageing on 16-17 June 2022 in Rome, preceded by a Joint Forum of Civil Society and Scientific Research on 15 June. The resulting 2022 Rome Ministerial Declaration recommits to MIPAA and identifies three policy goals towards achieving a sustainable society for all ages:
Promoting active and healthy ageing throughout life
To advance active and healthy ageing, Ministers pledged to work to facilitate older persons’ participation in social, cultural, political, and economic life. They articulated the need for policies and actions that promote a healthy lifestyle over the life course, create more age-friendly environments, promote a positive image of ageing, foster intergenerational dialogue, combat loneliness and social isolation, promote age-friendly digitalization, and improve participation in life-long learning. Ministers also committed to strengthening protections for older persons against discrimination, abuse, and violence, and preventing old-age poverty through sustainable, inclusive, and adequate pension systems.
Ensuring access to long-term care and support for carers and families
To prepare for the anticipated increase in demand for long-term care services, Minsters committed to investing in long-term care systems, improving the terms of employment and working conditions for care workers, prioritizing skills development and training among care workers, investing in research and innovation in health and social care, and intensifying support for informal and family carers. The declaration emphasizes the importance of a person-centred approach to care that ensures independence and dignity and protects against neglect and abuse.
Mainstreaming ageing to advance a society for all ages
To address the cross-sectoral and multidimensional issues of ageing, Ministers supported the mainstreaming of ageing issues into all relevant policy fields and at all levels. This approach includes developing national frameworks for mainstreaming ageing and strengthening their implementation, coordinating ageing-related policies across governmental sectors and levels, facilitating inclusive stakeholder engagement, enhancing age- and gender-sensitive research, and improving the availability of disaggregated data.
The implementation of MIPAA has occurred during times of major demographic, political, social, and economic change. Older persons have been disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. They are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, war, and displacement. In a time of rapid digitalization, older persons risk social and economic exclusion. Both the resolution and Rome Declaration acknowledge the continued relevance of MIPAA as a cross-cutting framework for addressing ageing in the current global and regional context.
Nonetheless, to adapt to emerging challenges and changed realities in the region, UNECE member States have entrusted the Standing Working Group on Ageing with the task of updating the MIPAA Regional Implementation Strategy and exploring the possibility of updating MIPAA itself. UNECE Executive Secretary Olga Algayerova emphasized the importance of adapting to the region’s evolving circumstances during the Commission on Social Development, stating: “The UNECE region is at the forefront of population ageing and our member States increasingly feel the impact of population ageing, including on labour markets. Not only do people live longer, but the age structure of the workforce is changing. We all need to adapt.”
Mainstreaming ageing across policy sectors at all levels of government is key for accelerating the implementation of MIPAA in the UNECE region and ensuring older persons are not left behind in efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. During the United Nations Decade of Healthy Ageing (2021-2030), the MIPAA review, resolution, and Rome declaration are important steps forward towards the Decade’s vision of “a world in which all persons can live long, healthy lives”.