UNECE Working Group on Ageing seeks to reinforce links between national & global policies


UNECE headquarters, Geneva

Population ageing has been recognised by the United Nations as one of the four global demographic megatrends together with population growth, international migration and urbanization. In that context, Member States must address the demographic change in a more comprehensive and coherent way with other key challenges. One way of doing this is to bring closer national actions on ageing taken in the framwork of the International Action Plan for Action on Ageing (MIPAA) to the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This was discussed last November in Geneva.

Fight against ageism, mainstreaming ageing in national policy making and the progress in the implementation of the Madrid International Plan for Action on Ageing (MIPAA) were the major issues discussed at the 12th session of Working Group on Ageing (WGA) of the United Nations’ Economic Commission for Europe’s (UNECE)[1] held on 18-19 November 2019 in Geneva. AGE takes part in annual meetings of the WGA together with other civil society organisations (NGOs) accredited to the UNECE. At the last meeting, our Vice-President, Dr Heidrun Mollenkopf has been elected NGO representative to the UNECE WGA Bureau for the period 2019-2021.

Building synergies

UNECE_WGA_2019-familyPicture The 12th WGA session launched the preparations for the 4th review of the MIPAA and its Regional Implementation Strategy (RIS) foreseen in 2022. A task force has been created within the WGA Bureau, including our Vice-President Dr Heidrun Mollenkopf, to prepare guidelines for member states to prepare the 4th review. It was also agreed to develop a questionnaire to get comparable national country’s examples on mainstreaming ageing across other policy areas. This stocktaking exercise of good practices will inform the upcoming MIPAA/RIS review and appraisal. Member States also supported a pledge to link closer the MIPAA to the Agenda 2030 and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This should both reduce burden on governments and NGOs and strengthen the efficiency of actions proposed in the two processes i.e. avoid policy making in silos. Moreover, the WGA will strive for synergies on the MIPAA and other population-related international frameworks, such as the WHO Global Strategy on healthy ageing and the topics discussed at the UN Open Ended Working Group on Ageing (OEWG-A). On the latter, it was suggested that an UNECE side event be organised at the next OEWG-A in April 2020.

Later in 2020, AGE will launch an internal assessment of the MIPAA/RIS 2018-2022 – similarly to our extensive contribution to the last MIPAA review in 2017 – see here.

BAGSO_Publication_SocietyForAllAges-cover2 Our German member BAGSO is sharing with AGE members its own publication presenting the MIPAA process – please see here. Members who wish to learn more about the MIPAA, its scope, structure or implementation and monitoring mechanisms are encouraged to look at this most comprehensive document here (available in English).

NGOs join forces against UNECE budget cut

Finally, we were informed about the plans for an UNECE 2020 budget which has unfortunately targeted the abolition of a post related to ageing issues. In response, AGE together with other UNECE NGOs decided to address a letter urging member states of the ECE to request that their counterparts in the UN Fifth Committee – currently reviewing the Secretary-General’s proposed programme budget – to insist on the reinstatement of that budget post.

Supporting informal carers

UNECE_PolicyBrief_informal_carers_2019 A policy seminar followed the WGA 12th session on 20 November where member states, NGOs and researchers addressed the topic of Informal care for persons with dementia. Member states presented notable practices of support for family carers. A unique opportunity for participants was to learn about informal care policy in Switzerland, the dementia action plan and support measures by the canton and city of Geneva, through two site visits in the afternoon.

Read here UNECE’s policy brief on the challenging roles of informal carers.

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For more information on the UNECE WGA and its 12th session, please do not hesitate to contact Maciej Kucharczyk: maciej.kucharczyk@age-platform.eu

[1] The UN-ECE Working Group on Ageing is an intergovernmental body made up of national focal points on ageing representing member states of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe region, along with representatives from international organizations, NGOs and academia.

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