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Age Concern Reports To UN Conference In Spain

27 March 2002

Next week, Age Concern will participate in international conferences in Spain, where older people and ageing issues will be discussed on a global level.

"I relish this opportunity to talk about what's happening in New Zealand," says Garth Taylor, Age Concern New Zealand chief executive. "Age Concern has been engaged with the UN and other international organisations for some years, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. Now we move on to the world stage.

"Age Concern has much to share, especially our work in health promotion and positive ageing, as well as our elder abuse and neglect prevention services. It will also be a learning experience, and I look forward to bringing new ideas back to New Zealand, and networking with other like organisations around the world."

Twenty years ago, Age Concern participated in the first UN World Assembly on Ageing, in Vienna in 1982. Out of that pivotal meeting came the International Plan of Action on Ageing. It was intended to guide governments around the world to plan ahead and secure the future of an increasing proportion of older people in society. On 8-12 April, the second UN World Assembly will be held in Madrid, Spain, to formulate a new International Strategy on Ageing.

There is a recognised need for Governments to take a role in preparing for an ageing population, with well resourced service infrastructures that enhance and safeguard the well-being of older people, and promote their participation in society. Many Governments in the Asia-Pacific region have established such National Plans. Until recently, New Zealand did not.

"Living longer must never be seen as an exception, a burden or a challenge. To help overcome the burden myth, for several years Age Concern led the call for New Zealand to have a National Plan on Ageing, consistent with the UN Plan, which received widespread support," says Mr Taylor. "It was heartening when the Government drafted its NZ Positive Ageing Strategy in 2000. Age Concern was involved locally and nationally in its development, and welcomed its release in April 2001. We continue to follow its action."

Earlier in April, Mr Taylor will participate in the International Association of Gerontology conference in Valencia, and an international NGO Forum, both of which are linked to the World Assembly.


Why a world assembly?

The International Plan of Action on Ageing has guided the thinking and action on ageing since it was adopted at the First World Assembly on Ageing in Vienna in 1982. However, remarkable demographic changes are currently taking place, and by the middle of the twenty-first century the old and the young are expected to represent equal shares of the world population. Globally, the proportion of persons aged 60 years and older is expected to double between 2000 and 2050.

To address the challenges associated with this momentous demographic shift, the United Nations General Assembly decided to convene the Second World Assembly on Ageing from 8 to 12 April 2002 in Madrid, Spain.

The Second World Assembly is being held to help governments and societies plan policies that will ensure that older persons can continue to contribute to society in a meaningful way to the best of their ability.

It will adopt a revised plan of action that will consider the social, cultural, economic and demographic realities of the new century. The proposed 2002 plan of action would call for changes in attitudes, policies and practices at all levels in all sectors, so that the enormous potential of ageing in the twenty-first century may be fulfilled

The revised plan of action - submitted in draft form as the International Strategy for Action on Ageing to Member States - is intended to be a practical tool to assist policy-makers in developing responses to the demographic changes taking place in their societies. The Strategy will stress the need to ensure that ageing has a basic place in all policy agendas, both domestic and international, and in other major documents for social, economic and human rights development.

Source: United Nations

For more information, please visit:

UN World Assembly: http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/ageing/waa/index.html

International Association of Gerontology conference: http://www.valenciaforum.com/

NGO Forum: http://www.forumageing.org/

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