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Live from New York: Ageing Issues in the Forefront at the United Nations this Spring

Post by Dr Sandra Timmermann and Ms Frances Zainoeddin (IFA Representatives)

Join the conversation – the IFA UN Representatives would like to hear from you and encourage involvement!

The United Nations convenes three major sessions in the winter and spring and the UN Representatives from the IFA have been actively involved in assuring that the concerns of older persons are included in the deliberations.  Despite the imperative of global population ageing, our issues are not always top of mind when the member states and delegates meet.  The NGOs, such as IFA, play a vital role in advocating for inclusion in discussions, in developing side events and in providing information and perspectives that might otherwise not come to light.

Below are highlights from IFA’s recent action, in concert with updates from the NGO Committee on Ageing/NY, the Commission for Social Development, the Statistical Commission and the Commission on the Status of Women as well as a highlights of UN sessions coming up in July.



29 January – 7 February 2018

  • Discussions at United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) this year included the Third Review of MIPAA (Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing) and Political Declaration which was adopted in 2002. Inclusion of MIPPA in the Agenda enabled the member states as well as the NGOs to specifically focus on ageing and make recommendations.
  • The Commission’s recommendations included:
    • use of MIPAA as a tool for implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
    • recognition of the potential of older persons and their contribution to the functioning of societies
    • need to combat ageism and discrimination
    • action to be taken on disaggregated data; pension policies; health care (including long-term care and palliative care, non–communicable diseases); education and technological skills
    • protection of the rights of older persons
  • The NGO CoA (Committee on Ageing) provided key points for members to raise during side events.
  • Because it was the year for review of MIPAA, there were many side events dealing with issues of concern to older persons. The NGO CoA co-sponsored the following two side events:
    • Ageism, a prejudice against our future selves (organized by IFA)
    • Why are digital skills critical for older persons (organized by DESA).
  • AARP also held its annual briefing series on “Taking a Different Course for a World Free of Poverty”.



6-9 March 2018

Surprisingly, there has been no requirement for United Nations member states to collect and analyze data on the numbers and characteristics of those nationals who are age 50 and over. Without statistical evidence, it has been difficult to make a substantive case for the growing needs and concerns of the older population.

An exciting breakthrough has occurred, the Statistical Commission, at its 49th session, has approved the establishment of the Titchfield Group (UK) on ageing-related statistics and age-disaggregated data.  It is the 10th of such “City Groups” currently addressing specific thematic challenges in the development and implementation of statistical methodologies.

The overall objective of the Titchfield Group is to develop standardized tools and methods for producing both data disaggregated by age and ageing-related data, and to encourage countries to do so, by playing a leading role in the development and communication of new standards and methodologies.  Existing issues and deficits in data on ageing will be addressed.  Click here for report.



12-23 March 2018

  • Theme – challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls.
  • Outcome document, called the Agreed Conclusions, for the first time had two stand-alone paragraphs on older women:

“The Commission recognizes the contributions of older women, including widowed women, to households and communities, especially in cases where they are left behind by migrating adults or as a result of other socio-economic factors to assume childcare, household and agricultural responsibilities.” (para. 40)

“The Commission urges Governments and [civil society organizations] to promote and protect the rights of older women in rural areas by ensuring their equal access to social, legal, and financial services, infrastructure, health care, social protection, and economic resources and their full and equal participation in decision-making” (para. 46 (bbb).

  • NGO Committee on Ageing/NY –The NGO CoA (of which IFA UN representatives play a leadership role) was actively involved by:
  • Submitting suggestions to the United Nations Group of Friends of Older Persons, which worked tirelessly to ensure adequate referencing of older women and widows.
  • Working with Soroptimists International (NGO that promotes education and empowerment of women and girls) on the text of the Agreed Conclusions.
  • Preparing a Flyer for members to use when they had the opportunity to raise issues of concern to older women, at side and parallel events.
  • Co-sponsoring the parallel event on rural older women/widows organized by INPEA (International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse).

The reports (when they become available) and other important resources are posted on the NGO CoA website.



The IFA representatives to the UN are now gearing up for the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (9-18 July, 2018) to review implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  There will be many side events that will reflect the theme “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies” where the concerns of older persons can also be raised.

The ninth session of the Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing (23-26 July, 2018) is scheduled a few weeks later, and the IFA representatives are also preparing for that important event.

Stay tuned for more information and get in touch if you would like your organization to be involved. The IFA representatives will be reporting on this and our many activities at the IFA’s upcoming 14th Global Conference on Ageing (8-10 August, 2018) in Toronto.

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