Happy New Year of Active Ageing – Five things to watch in 2012

As we enter into the year of 2012 there are lots of exciting things going on on the scene of demographic ageing and the ‘silver evolution’. As it seems, more and more people, organizations and governments are becoming aware of the enormous potential in the growing 65+ generation and keeping them actively involved in society. In this blog post I set out to outline five things, all related to the topic of Active Ageing, that I believe to become important during the year of 2012.

But first a quick break for terminology: What is actually meant by Active Ageing? According to the European Union it’s defined as:

“Giving the baby boom generation and tomorrow’s older adults the opportunity to:

  • stay in the workforce and share their experience
  • keep playing an active role in society
  • live as healthy and fulfilling lives as possible.”

Or as the World Health Organization (WHO) put it“Active ageing is the process of optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age.”

1. One initiative along those lines is that of the European Union (EU) who has designated the year of 2012 as the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between GenerationsThe European Union has a tradition since 1983 of dedicating every year to a specific cause important for society. On the 14th of September 2011 the European Parliament decided that the turn had come to the cause of Active Ageing and Solidarity Between Generations. In practice, this means that since that day a number of organizations, both public and private, have been invited to take part in or lead initiatives with tangible, measureable results to be followed up upon during 2012 related to those two topics. This includes everything from research projects on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for ageing, and making use of participative web 2.0 tools in caregiving for frail older people, to facilitating the creation of new business opportunities for products and services related to the ageing challenge, promoting better inclusion of elders in the labour market and showing photo exhibitions picturing the intergenerational dialogue within Europe, to mention a few initiatives. In other words a very interesting agenda, that we are all looking forward to be following.

2. Meanwhile, at the other side of the Atlantic, Harvard Business Review Blogger and MIT Sloan School research fellow Michael Schrage, recently pointed out the business opportunity of adapting apps, devices and tablets to the growing senior customer base as one of six ‘Innovative Ideas to Watch in 2012’. All as the silver generation grows and becomes more active and technologically savvy.

3. And as one multilateral organization prepares for its year of Active Ageing another one under the United Nations (UN) umbrella, namely WHO, enjoys an increased awareness around their related programme of creating age-friendly cities. After arranging the programme’s first international age-friendly cities conference in late September 2011, now WHO’s intitiative is an integrated part of the EU’s year of Active Ageing, encouraging more European cities to apply to the network.

4. For 2012, the UN is also looking forward to get on with the the second quinquennial review of the outcome of the Second UN World Assembly on Ageing that took place in Madrid in 2002, also known as The Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA), a document that marked a sort of turning point in how the world has seen the challenge of population ageing. This was the conference where the WHO presented their well-known Active Ageing Policy Framework that has served as a basis for the definition ever since.

5. Last but not least, as one of the pioneer organizations in advocating the rights of older people, also the International Federation on Ageing (IFA) will make their important contribution to the active ageing discourse next year. One way that they’ll be doing this is through their 11th bi-annual Global Conference on Ageing, which this year goes under the theme of ‘Ageing Connects’ – covering topics from work and the access to knowledge/education to advancing health and well-being and the possibilities within innovative products and connected technologies such as twitter, blogs and social networks.

In other words – a lot to look forward to during the coming year. So while we wait eagerly for all the good blog post material that the above mentioned happenings will generate, let us take the opportunity to wish you all:

A Happy New Year of Active Ageing!


About agmiranda

Miranda Edner is an account manager currently working for a large American multinational technology and consulting corporation. She has a background in mechatronics engineering, industrial management, democratic development and dance. Her heart beats for global development, creativity and innovation.

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