Updated: Jun 22
In 2010 the World Health Organization (WHO) launched its Global Network for Age-friendly Cities and Communities to inspire, connect and support innovation all around the world. The network provides a platform for sharing best practices, exchanging knowledge and experiences, and collaborating on innovative solutions to address the challenges facing older adults in urban and rural environments. Since then, the global age-friendly community has grown and strengthened, as more and more cities and communities are committed to becoming better places in which to grow older.
Last April 2023, it was launched a guide to provide directions to national authorities and stakeholders responsible for or involved in forming or sustaining national programs for age-friendly cities and communities (AFCC).
Thiago Hérick de Sá, coordinator on the work of WHO on Age-friendly Environments, highlighted in the International Federation of Ageing Global Café the need to “continue to put older people at the center of the decision-making process”, creating age-friendly environments WITH and not only for the older population: “Nothing about us without us”.
Age-friendly cities and communities are then those that are “designed to promote the health and wellbeing of older adults by providing a supportive environment that allows them to participate fully in social, economic, cultural, and civic life”. Cities and communities need to be inclusive and accessible for people of all ages, especially older adults.
The launch of this new guide responds to the call of the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing (2021–2030) for the development of national guidance on fostering healthy ageing in cities and communities. It provides direction to national authorities and stakeholders responsible for or involved in forming or sustaining national programmes for age-friendly cities and communities and includes suggestions for meaningfully engaging older people in creating age-friendly environments, detailed examples of existing national AFCC programmes, and practical steps for creating or strengthening such a programme, building on the wealth of experiences and examples within the Global Network for Age-friendly Cities and Communities.
The Age-friendly Cities and Communities initiative has helped so far to raise awareness of the importance of creating age-friendly environments and to promote the inclusion of older adults in community decision-making processes. It has encouraged all over the world the development of several innovative initiatives as intergenerational programs that bring together people of different ages to learn from each other and to work together to improve their communities; age-friendly transportation systems that are accessible and affordable for older adults; the creation of public spaces and buildings that are designed to meet the needs of older adults, such as benches, ramps, and accessible toilets, etc.
These new guidelines will add to this work and enable countries to deliver on multiple global commitments at once, like the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing and the Sustainable Development Goals. Only with local, regional, national and international action and cooperation, society can evolve to ensure all people can age with health and well-being no matter where they choose to live.
URBANAGE project is committed and was born from the need to support the development of age-friendly environments using innovative technology and putting older adults in the center of the decision-making! In the next articles, we will deepen, from URBANAGE perspective, what role technology can play in the present and future of age-friendly environments.