Population ageing and development

The interaction between population ageing and development is a complex fusion of global patterns in labour and capital markets, government pensions, services, and traditional support systems, which are further shaped by technological change and cultural transformations. The ageing of populations, no less equal in its worldwide impact, will increasingly influence decision-making at national and regional levels. From activities reported during the Year, it is evident that there are a great many ways to integrate ageing policies and programmes into the broader development framework.

Global and multisectoral
The United Nations programme on ageing organized the Interregional Expert Consultation on Developing a Framework for Policies for A Society for All Ages in June 1999, hosted by the Republic of Korea and sponsored by the Swiss Re Life and Health. The overall purpose of the Consultation was to assist Governments in responding effectively to individual and population ageing by promoting and implementing the vision of "A society for all ages" .

The programme on ageing, together with the International Association of Gerontology (IAG), has been developing a Research Agenda on Ageing for the Twenty-first Century which will serve as a background for policy response to population and individual ageing in both developing and developed countries. An expert consultation launched this event in Austria in February 1999, with the support of the Novartis Foundation for Gerontology. A follow-up meeting is planned for November 1999, which will be supported by Germany.

The Trust Fund for Ageing continues as an important developmental tool of the programme on ageing. Most recently, the Trust Fund has received support from the Governments of Germany and the United Kingdom, and from the private sector: AARP, the Swiss Re Life and Health, and the Novartis Foundation for Gerontology. The Fund provides seed money aiming for catalytic effects, such as that reported by the Associates for International Management Services in a recent review of an innovative programme, entitled Intergenerational Pre-school Education and Development. The Management Service found that the project, implemented by the SSM Foundation of the Dominican Republic, had been so successful that it should be considered for replication in other countries, particularly during the International Year of Older Persons.

The Population Division of the United Nations Secretariat issued "Population ageing, 1999", which provides the most up-to-date and comprehensive information on population ageing at the global, regional, and national levels. The World Bank, actively involved in lending activities related to pension reform, has studied the effects of ageing on demographics: how ageing affects mobility, migration, food availability and life expectancy; and how ageing affects health-care costs. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) prepared a document for the Year that examined the interrelations between the ageing of rural populations, agricultural production and food security. Special focus was given to Asia and Latin America, where fertility has declined and rural and urban migration is significant. The World Health Organization (WHO) has conducted research and developed global strategies to help countries formulate policies to address the public health impact of rapidly ageing populations.

The International Institute on Ageing (INIA) convened a training conference, Changing Population Age Structure and Implications for Development: National Policy Formulation and Policy Development in the Least Developed Countries of South East Asia, in Thailand in January 1999. INIA will also sponsor a seminar in Malta for Israeli and Chinese policy makers on the political implications of a society for all ages, in November 1999. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recently published a comprehensive report on population ageing and development, entitled "Coping with population ageing in Australia". The International Social Security Association (ISSA) will hold a conference, Demographic Trends and Globalization: Challenges for Social Security, in the Slovak Republic in October 1999.

National and regional activities
The Economic and Social Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) is convening a commemorative meeting on the Year to discuss the demographic transition and its social and economic implications, in Santiago, Chile, in September 1999. ESCAP adopted the Macau Declaration and Plan of Action on Ageing for Asia and the Pacific at its regional meeting in Bangkok in April 1998, and subsequently prepared a background document, "Population ageing and development: implications for Asia and the Pacific" for its regional seminar in Bangkok in December 1998. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) works with a regional agenda with regard to population ageing and regional training programmes, and co-sponsored, with the Inter-American Development Bank, a seminar on ageing and development in Latin America in December 1998.

The European Commission adopted the Communication on Ageing, which offers an analysis of the implications and consequences of the ageing of society and proposes strategies for appropriate policy responses. Building on the Communication, the EC has initiated discussions on a European older persons' platform, which would serve to strengthen the voice of older persons at the European Union level and establish a representative body with whom the Commission could enter into discussion on ageing and development issues. In Central and Eastern Europe, a three-year training and development project, organized by Case Western Reserve University and funded by the Open Society Institute, worked towards strengthening civil society and services. The training encompassed internships in community administration and planning, which was provided by various members of the Cleveland Federation for Community Planning. Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Communities, recently published "Regional population ageing of the EU at different speeds up to 2025", which examines the demographic outlook for the European Union and how the pension and health systems will respond to the dramatic ageing of the continent's population.

Within the European region, the United Kingdom is building upon its March 1998 Millennium Debate of the Age, through Age Concern England, which is targeting up to 30 million people for their views on life in the twenty-first century. Set up to discuss current thinking on ageing and options for the future, the Debate is the largest independent public consultation initiative ever undertaken in the United Kingdom.