The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mainstreaming ageing into global agendas is essential. A concerted effort is required to move towards a wide and equitable approach to policy integration. The task is to link ageing to other frameworks for social and economic development and human rights. Whereas specific policies will vary according to country and region, population ageing is a universal force that has the power to shape the future as much as globalization. It is essential to recognize the ability of older persons to contribute to society by taking the lead not only in their own betterment but also in that of society as a whole. Forward thinking calls us to embrace the potential of the ageing population as a basis for future development.

Older persons must be full participants in the development process and also share in its benefits. No individual should be denied the opportunity to benefit from development. The impact of population ageing on the socio-economic development of society, combined with the social and economic changes taking place in all countries, engender the need for urgent action to ensure the continuing integration and empowerment of older persons. In addition, migration, urbanization, the shift from extended to smaller, mobile families, lack of access to technology that promotes independence and other socio-economic changes can marginalize older persons from the mainstream of development, taking away their purposeful economic and social roles and weakening their traditional sources of support.

Whereas development can benefit all sectors of society, sustained legitimacy of the process requires the introduction and maintenance of policies that ensure the equitable distribution of the benefits of economic growth. One of the principles in the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development 3 and Programme of Action 4 adopted at the World Summit for Social Development is the creation of a framework by governments to fulfil their responsibility for present and future generations by ensuring equity across the generations. Furthermore, the Millennium Summit affirmed the long-term imperative of eradicating poverty and fulfilling the social and humanitarian goals set up by the global conferences of the Nineties.

The attention of policy makers has been seized by the simultaneous need to adjust to the effects of an ageing labour force while improving labour productivity and competitiveness and also ensuring the sustainability of social protection systems. Where appropriate, multifaceted reform strategies should be implemented in order to place pension systems on a sound financial footing...

A society for all ages encompasses the goal of providing older persons with the opportunity to continue contributing to society. To work towards this goal, it is necessary to remove whatever excludes or discriminates against them. The social and economic contribution of older persons reaches beyond their economic activities. They often play crucial roles in families and in the community. They make many valuable contributions that are not measured in economic terms: care for family members, productive subsistence work, household maintenance and voluntary activities in the community...All these contributions, including those made through unpaid work in all sectors by persons of all ages, particularly women, should be recognized.

Participation in social, economic, cultural, sporting, recreational and volunteer activities also contribute to the growth and maintenance of personal well-being. Organizations of older persons are an important means of enabling participation through an interadvocacy and promotion of multigenerational interactions.

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