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Towards age-friendly sustainable cities and communities

28 March 2023 15:00 - 16:30

Side event

The side event of the UNECE Regional Forum on Sustainable Development “Towards age-friendly sustainable cities and communities” was co-organized by UNECE and WHO in collaboration with the UNECE Standing Working Group on Ageing and the WHO Global Network for Age-friendly Cities and Communities to demonstrate how investments towards age-friendly environments contribute to the 2030 Agenda’s ambition to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable (SDG Goal 11) as well as other SDG goals and targets. Representatives of the WHO Global Network for Age-friendly Cities and Communities from Ireland, Poland, and Spain as well as leaders in healthy ageing from Tajikistan shared concrete actions being taken in their countries and communities to foster the abilities of older persons and create better environments in which to grow old.

The good practice examples presented span the local, regional, and national levels and highlight the importance of partnerships within and outside of government for achieving age-friendly environments and sustainable development. In Ireland, in the context of national policy frameworks to support age-friendly housing for older persons and with the support of Age-Friendly Ireland, new housing developments simultaneously respond to the needs of older persons and contribute to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda by reducing older-age poverty (Goal 1), promoting healthy lifestyles (Goal 3), improving energy efficiency and sustainable use of resources (Goals 7 and 13), and providing access to public transportation and local amenities (Goal 11).  

In Poland, Kraków’s vast network of Seniors Activity Centres bring together municipal government agencies and local NGOs to combat ageism, promote a positive image of older persons, foster intergenerational collaboration, and provide opportunities for the development of older persons across various dimensions. The city’s democratically elected Council of Older Persons advises the mayor, ensuring more responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making (Target 16.7).  The Spanish network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities supports the implementation of national ageing policies, the SDGs, and other international initiatives at the local level, developing programmes that are tailored to each community’s specific context and needs. Examples include service learning and arts grants that promote intergenerational exchange and collaboration. Such programmes make communities more inclusive for older persons (Goal 11) and rely on partnerships and collaboration between local governments and civil society groups.  

As a pilot country for the Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well-being for All (GAP), Tajikistan is taking action to strengthen health financing and accelerate progress on health-related SDGs (Goal 3) for all ages. Fundamental to these efforts is cooperation between the government, civil society, and regional and global organizations. A pioneer in the region, the Central Asian Gerontological Center in Tajikistan is working to promote evidence-driven ageing policies, change stereotypes of attitudes towards older people, promote intergenerational exchange, and achieve more age-friendly environments.  

The presentations and discussion during the event highlighted the synergies between SDG 17—which aims to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development—inclusive cities (SDG 11), and age-friendly environments. Vertical collaboration between national and local governments and organizations is critical for translating national and global policy initiatives into local programmes that positively impact communities and individuals. Another common theme to emerge was the importance of inclusive representation and decision-making that gives a voice to older persons.

Sixty-six participants from 30 countries attended the side event. The programme, speaker presentations, and a recording of the event are available below.


Moderator: Liz Mestheneos, 50+ Hellas (Greece)

Opening and Welcome Remarks (10 min)

  • UN Decade for Healthy Ageing video (2 min)
  • UNECE - Standing Working Group on Ageing
  • WHO - Global Network for Age-friendly Cities and Communities

Inspirational talk (10 min)

  • Dr Shodikhon Jamshed, Deputy Minister of Health and Social Protection (Tajikistan)
  • Dr Saodat Kamalova, Director of Central Asian Gerontology Centre (Tajikistan)

Panel Discussion (45 min)

  • Sara Ulla Díez, Coordinadora de Estudios y Apoyo Técnico, Instituto de Mayores y Servicios Sociales (IMSERSO) Presentation
  • Anne Rizzo, International Relations Officer, Age friendly Ireland Presentation
  • Anna Okońska-Walkowicz, Plenipotentiary of the Mayor of Kraków for Senior Citizen (Kraków, Poland) Presentation

Q&A, interventions from the floor (15 min)


For more information on the WHO Global Network for Age-friendly Cities and Communities