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     Home > Culture & Society  >  2013-06-13 19:48:36
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Post-2015 development goals: how does an aging population fare?



(Vatican Radio) Hundreds of human rights organizations across the spectrum have increasingly been engaged in the process to establish a new development framework to follow on the Millennium Development Goals: the post-2015 process.

One of these is the HelpAge global network which is particularly concerned with the inclusion of older people within this framework as the world ages at an unprecedented rate.

HelpAge’s Chief Executive Officer, Silvia Stefanoni, recently attended the release in New York of a UN High Level Panel report outlining its vision for post-2015 development. Speaking to Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni, she says the framework has been carefully drawn up and has many positive aspects as well as a series of deficiencies. But, she points out, it is a starting point upon which to build…

Listen to the full interview… RealAudioMP3

Stefanoni says the report covers a wide range of issues and includes a number of welcome aspects, particularly the focus on tackling vulnerability, tackling inequality and generally improving the aspects of the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that were a bit blind to specific vulnerability and inequality issues.

She explains that the way the report proposes to tackle these issues is by ensuring that the different vulnerable groups are identified and data is gathered around the specific issue. The question of age – she says – is included. That means that age is going to be an indicator that governments and society in general will need to take into account. In concrete terms that means that for example when talking about access to water, we will have to be clear about water is accessible to women, men, children, young people and older people. She says this is a very welcome aspect of the report.

However, from a perspective of populations dynamics as we look ahead to an increasingly aging world population Stefanoni says the report is quite silent.

In response to her observations, Stefanoni says the panel said ageing was considered and a demographic shift was acknowledged. But she says, a lot more work needs to be done now to ensure the framework will actually address the needs of older people.

Stefanoni says the report is only a beginning of a “conversation” on what the post-2015 sustainable development goals are likely to be. She says there is a UN working group that is reporting on a variety of issues that will have to be included into the new framework. Afterwards there are all the negotiations that governments will have to be involved in in developing the new framework. So, she says “there are plenty of opportunities”.

Stefanoni also illustrates the calendar of meetings set up for the coming months which represent opportunities to feed into the new framework and firmly put aging on the agenda. “The challenge is how do we get governments across the world to understand aging and not have the rather superficial response that we have up to now, a response that says ‘this is not an issue for us today. Today the priority is elsewhere like putting the needs of young people in the forefront’ and thinking that tackling aging is something that we can do tomorrow. We have to make governments realise that we cannot wait another 25 years”.

Stefanoni is adamant that societies have to understand that if the aging issue is not properly taken into account there will be a huge waste of resources. If people in old age are not supported to continue to contribute to society, she says there will be enormous economic consequence. “Governments and economies who are not responding to the issues of aging will suffer not only socially but also economically”.

So, Stefanoni insists on two issues in particular: “the issue of how do you support older people as they age? How do you respond to their care needs? This is something that cannot be left to individual families. But also: how do we make sure that older people have the choice regarding how much to participate in the economy, how much to participate in political life, so they are not relegated and marginalized”.














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