Report Calls for Urgent Action by Governments to Address the needs of the “Greying Generation”

2 October 2012

Tokyo, 1st October 2012- The number of older persons is growing faster than any other age group, says a new report, Ageing in the Twenty-first Century: A Celebration and a Challenge, released today on International Day of Older Persons by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, and HelpAge International.

Population of over 60 year-olds to reach one billion within the decade, finds new UN Report

Report Calls for Urgent Action by Governments to Address the needs of the "Greying Generation"

• 80% of world's older persons will live in developing countries by 2050
• Over 60 population will be larger than the under-15 population in 2050

Tokyo, 1st October 2012- The number of older persons is growing faster than any other age group, says a new report, Ageing in the Twenty-first Century: A Celebration and a Challenge, released today on International Day of Older Persons by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, and HelpAge International.
The new report underlines that, while the trend of ageing societies is a cause for celebration, it also presents huge challenges as it requires completely new approaches to health care, retirement, living arrangements and intergenerational relations.

In 2000, for the first time in history, there were more persons over 60 than children below 5. By 2050, the older generation will be larger than the under-15 population. In just 10 years, the number of older persons will surpass 1 billion persons - an increase of close to 200 million persons over the decade. Today two out of three persons aged 60 or over, live in developing and emerging economies. By 2050, this will rise to nearly four in five.

If not addressed promptly, the consequences of these issues are likely to take unprepared countries by surprise. In many developing countries with large populations of young persons, for example, the challenge is that governments have not put policies and practices in place to support their current older populations or made enough preparations for 2050.

Speaking at the report's launch in Tokyo, UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, said: "Persons everywhere must age with dignity and security, enjoying life through the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms."

"Longer life expectancy," he added, "was a goal of the Cairo International Conference on Population Development in 1994. More action needs to be taken to achieve this for all persons; new poverty goals must not exclude older persons."

Important progress has been made by many countries in adopting new policies, strategies, plans and laws on ageing, according to the report. For example over 100 countries in the last decade have put in place non-contributory social pensions, in recognition of old age poverty. But much more needs to be done to fulfil the potential of our ageing world.

Forty-seven per cent of older men and nearly 24 per cent of older women participate in the labour force. Yet, despite the contributions that a socially and economically active, secure and healthy ageing population can give to society, the report also notes that many older persons all over the world face continued discrimination, abuse and violence. The report calls for governments, civil society and the general public to work together to end these destructive practices and to invest in older persons.

The report also includes the stories of 1,300 older men and women who participated in group discussions in 36 countries around the world. Their first-hand accounts and testimonies add the perspectives of the older population supporting efforts for better understanding and immediate action to meet their needs.

Richard Blewitt, Chief Executive Officer of HelpAge International, said: "We must commit to ending the widespread mismanagement of ageing. Concrete, cost effective advances will come from ensuring age investment begins at birth - fully recognizing the vast majority of persons will live into old age. Global and national action plans are needed to create a pathway to transform the explosive number of persons over 60 to become growth drivers and value creators. By revolutionizing our approach and investing in persons as they age we can build stronger, wealthier societies. Social protection and age friendly health care are essential to extend the independence of healthy older persons and prevent impoverishment in old age."

"These actions," added Mr. Blewitt, "should be based on a long-term vision, and supported by a strong political commitment and a secured budget."

"Ageing is a lifelong process that does not start at age 60. Today's young persons will be part of the 2 billion-strong population of older persons in 2050," said Dr. Osotimehin. "This report shows that, with actions taken now, we can all benefit from the longevity dividend- increasingly in the developing world - now and in the future."

Today's global launch of the report will be followed by a day of global activism in which more than 60,000 older persons aged 60 or over, from 60 countries, will be campaigning as part of Age Demands Action (ADA). This global grassroots campaign calls on governments, the international community and civil society to address the rights, concerns and needs of older persons.

"The report launched today by HelpAge International and UNFPA draws the attention to the global issue of ageing and highlights how other countries are planning for their ageing populations," said Pamela DeLargy, UNFPA Representative in Sudan. "Sudan also must devote more attention to the ageing and elderly. They have so much to contribute to the country and Sudan has a tradition of great respect for older people." But the country, she added, also needs to cater for their needs through dedicated policies and programmes.

To help Sudan in generating population data, UNFPA Sudan has supported the 5th National Population and Housing Census 2008 (data collection, analysis and dissemination), which is the biggest national source of data on the population demography, including issues of ageing.

UNFPA is also currently conducting a review of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA) as part of the review in the Arab region. The exercise is part of the Global Review of the International Conference on Population and Development Beyond 2014. UNFPA Sudan is also working closely with the Central Bureau of Statistics to provide data, demographic analysis and projections specific to the issues of Ageing in Sudan.

HelpAge International Sudan is working closely with the relevant line ministries at state level towards ensuring that older persons receive their entitlements. HelpAge International with its partners Sudanese Red Crescent Society (SRCS) and Sudanese Society in Care for Older People in collaboration with the Ministry of Welfare and Social Security has been actively engaged in the development of the Older People's Act. The Act is currently awaiting approval by the Ministry of Cabinet and endorsement by Parliament. If passed, this will be a great achievement towards advocating for older persons to have improved access to basic services and their entitlements.

To celebrate the event, HelpAge International is planning a series of activities in Khartoum and Darfur. In Khartoum, together with its partners HelpAge International will organise a ceremony to handover 40 National Health Insurance cards to older persons and their families. In Darfur, among other activities, older persons will request the Ministry of Welfare and Social Security to issue them National Health Insurance cards.

As a result of the ADA campaign in 2011, the Ministry of Welfare and Social Security approved prioritized seats for older persons on public buses. HelpAge International in Sudan acknowledges the continued support provided by the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Welfare and Social Security as well as other relevant authorities for facilitating the efforts undertaken in the interest of older persons at all levels.

Notes to Editors

• Fidelis Kangethe, HelpAge International, Tel. number: +249 183485406
• Ibrahim M. Guma'a Sahl, Programme Specialist - Population & Development, UNFPA Sudan Country Office, Cell phone: +249 (0) 9.123.585.29

HelpAge International helps older persons claim their rights, challenge discrimination and overcome poverty, so that they can lead dignified, secure, active and healthy lives.

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is an international development agency delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every child birth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled.

Age Demands Action is the first global campaign of its kind, launched in 2007 by HelpAge International, the global network fighting for the rights of older persons. Visit 
Persons can say no to age discrimination and support the Age Demands Action campaign by signing an open petition at