Macau, 26-29 October 1999
II. Opening of the Symposium
A. Opening statements
B. Election of officers
III. Adoption of the agenda
IV. Review of the global and regional situation
V. Major areas of concern relating to ageing and older persons
VI. Implementation of the Plan of Action on Ageing for Asia and the Pacific
VII. Planning attainable goals and targets
VIII. Adoption of recommendations
IX. Closing of the Symposium
2. The main purpose of the Symposium was to catalyze action in commemorating the Year and generate national and international support for the implementation of the Macau Plan of Action, bearing in mind its objectives to promote the United Nations Principles for Older Persons and its theme, "Towards a society for all ages". It would also contribute to the strengthening of national capabilities on issues pertaining to ageing and older persons through the exchange of information on policies and target-oriented plans and programmes as well as views and experiences; and through the formulation of guidelines and recommendations for specific, attainable, time-bound targets for building societies for all ages. To attain those ends, the Symposium brought together national focal points or coordinating agencies dealing with ageing and older persons from participating countries in Asia and the Pacific and those from other regions.
3. The Symposium was attended by representatives of the following ESCAP members and associate members: Bangladesh, Fiji, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Macau, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam. Representatives from Portugal also attended the Symposium.
4. Representatives from the following United Nations bodies and others and specialized agencies and related organization were in attendance: United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA); Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), International Institute on Ageing (INIA), and World Health Organization (WHO).
5. Representatives from the following non-governmental organizations and other entities attended the Symposium: Age Concern New Zealand Incorporated; American Association of Retired Persons; Asia-Pacific Institute of Ageing Studies; Association of Professionally Qualified Carers of Elders (Sri Lanka); Bangladesh Association for the Aged and Institute of Geriatric Medicine; Caritas de Macau, Centre for Legal Research & Resource Development (Nepal); Coalition of Services of the Elderly, Inc (Philippines); Council on the Ageing (Australia); Foundation for Thailand Rural Reconstruction Movement Under Royal Patronage; Foundation of the Elderly, Inc. (Philippines); General Union of the Neighbourhood Associations (Macau); Geriatric Society of India; HelpAge International; HelpAge Sri Lanka; Hong Kong Council of Social Service; Imbongu Aged Care Association (Papua New Guinea); International Association of Gerontology; Kiang Wu Hospital (Macau); Macau Labour Association; Macau Red Cross; Macau Womenís Association; National Association of Older Persons in Viet Nam; Obras das Maes (Macau); Pakistan Senior Citizens Association; Senior Citizens Council of Thailand; Tsao Foundation (Singapore); Tung Sin Tong Association (Macau); and Yayasan Emong Lansia (HelpAge Indonesia).
6. The Deputy Executive Secretary of ESCAP presided over the opening ceremony. In welcoming the participants, she stated that the participation of over 100 representatives of many sectors, including governments, NGOs, academic institutions and international organizations in the Symposium pointed to the importance that governments and organizations attached to issues relating to ageing and older persons. She emphasized that the Macau Plan of Action had become the guide to governments and NGOs in the development of policies and programmes for older persons.
7. The Deputy Executive Secretary of ESCAP noted that the International Year of Older Persons had challenged all governments and organizations to review strategies, policies and programmes for older persons. She observed that the ageing of populations in the region was taking place in the absence of adequate resources for development, both economic and social, and many older persons were seriously affected by problems related to insufficient support, poverty, employment, housing, gender equalities and social integration. She noted that older persons were therefore disadvantaged and vulnerable.
8. The Deputy Executive Secretary of ESCAP pointed out that the Symposium aimed to review the global and regional situation of older persons, especially the seven major areas of concern charted our in the Macau Plan of Action, and to map out guidelines for the implementation of the Macau Plan of Action. She brought to the attention of the participants the fact that while responsibility for the implementation of the Macau Plan of Action rested with governments and national organizations, it was also recognized that nongovernmental, regional and international organizations had an important role to play in stimulating and supporting the national level as well as in monitoring progress to be achieved in its implementation.
9. In conclusion, the Deputy Executive Secretary of ESCAP emphasized that the adoption of the Macau Plan of Action was only the beginning of a longer and more difficult process leading to a meaningful outcome in which joint efforts by all were essential for the benefits of all, regardless of their age and gender. She expressed heartfelt gratitude to the Government of Macau and the Macau Social Welfare Department (IASM) for their generous support to ESCAP activities and warm hospitality.
10. In his inaugurating speech, the Secretary for Social Affairs and Budgeting of the Government of Macau stated that it was essential to promote the United Nations principles for Older Persons and the theme of the International Year of Older Persons"Towards a Society for All Ages". In this regard, he appreciated the cooperation with ESCAP that the Government of Macau had enjoyed leading to the adoption of the Macau Plan of Action on Ageing for Asia and the Pacific. He expressed the hope that the Symposium would contribute to the strengthening of national capabilities on issues pertaining to ageing and older persons through the exchange of information and the development of guidelines for the implementation of the Macau Plan of Action.
11. The Secretary for Social Affairs and Budgeting of Macau pointed out that Macau had concluded a period of important structural investments in the social sector and of consolidation of achievements recorded in the past years. He also stated that in the social sector, the Social Welfare Department was the main agency responsible for the implementation of the social welfare policies and programmes with the collaboration of the agencies such the Housing Department, Employment Department, as well as the social pensions funds in both the public and private sectors. He informed the Symposium that the Portuguese Catholic University had released for comments its report on the evaluation of the social welfare sector of Macau. He noted that the report covered the most important areas of the social sector of Macau: health, environment, and social welfare.
12. He concluded by expressing the hope that ESCAP would continue to work with the Government of Macau in its new capacity as a special administrative region of China in the near future and that Macau would continue to prosper in the years to come.
13. The Meeting elected the following members of the bureau:
14. The Symposium adopted the following agenda:1. Opening of the Symposium.
2. Election of officers.
3. Adoption of the agenda.
4. Review of the global and regional situation.
5. Major areas of concern relating to ageing and older persons:
a) Financial and income security, and employment;
b) Social position of older persons, social services, the family and the community;
c) Health and nutrition;
d) Housing and transportation.
6. Implementation of the Plan of Action on Ageing for Asia and the Pacific:
a) Infrastructures for ageing;
b) Resource mobilization and allocation;
c) Regional and international support measures.
7. Planning attainable goals and targets.
8. Adoption of recommendations.
9. Closing of the Symposium.
back to the top page
15. The Symposium reviewed the global and regional situation of older persons, bearing in mind the relevant provisions of the Vienna International Plan of Action on Aging adopted by the World Assembly on Ageing in 1982 and the Macau Plan of Action on Ageing for Asia and the Pacific adopted in 1998. The Symposium heard presentations on the demographic challenges facing the world, especially within the Asian and Pacific region. Efforts made by countries in the ESCAP region in promoting awareness of population ageing issues and in the formulation of the Macau Plan of Action on Ageing in Asia and the Pacific were commended. It was noted that while the ageing problem was not an immediate crisis for most countries, appropriate actions had to be taken now to meet the challenges that would arise when the proportion of older persons in societies became high.
16. In discussing the global situation, the Symposium noted that the preparation for ageing populations and an adequate assessment of the current situation of older persons would be essential. Moreover, it agreed that policies on ageing should incorporate a life-long perspective and focus on individual development. In this regard, the Symposium discussed measures to promote the four dimensions of the International Year of Older Persons, focusing on the situation of older persons, lifelong development, multi-generational relationships, and the interaction between ageing and development. The Symposium underlined the need to further explore and fully understand the interaction between ageing and development. It held the view that the Year offered an opportunity for maturing attitudes towards ageing as well as potentials for development, and for adjustments at both the macro and micro levels for life changes, in the context of rapid population ageing. The Symposium agreed that policy formulation played a key role in changing the situation for the benefits of older persons.
17. The Symposium emphasized the importance of effective participation of older persons themselves in processes affecting their lives, especially in setting targets on ageing and in formulating policies for older persons. It also observed that implementation at the local levels of international and regional mandates on ageing was equally important since it involved people at the grassroots level and therefore should be linked with the implementation and targets at the international and national levels.
18. The Symposium recognized that the cultural dimension of health should be taken into consideration since patterns of daily living were learned in a cultural setting that shaped values and goals. It noted that it was essential to promote healthy and productive ageing. It agreed that there was a need to collect and disseminate information on socio-economic and health status of the elderly through inter-country and country studies. The Symposium recognized the need to incorporate geriatrics into the teaching curriculum of medical schools and to mobilize funding support for training specialists in geriatric medicine.
19. With regard to housing and transportation, the
Symposium emphasized the need for flexible living arrangements for older
persons. It called for efforts to be taken to meet the special needs of
older persons for housing and transportation in view of the fact that the
living environment had a great influence on their quality of life. The
Symposium held that the living environment should be
"elderly-friendly" and that changes and improvements in housing,
environment and transport structures, as necessary, should be made to
ensure that older persons enjoyed their right to social integration,
movement, leisure and recreation.
20. Regarding financial and income security and employment, the Symposium heard presentations from developing countries on the special circumstances of providing financial and income security to older persons. It was agreed that financial viability and sustainability were key considerations for any pension scheme, particularly since a large proportion of the populations of the region resided in the rural areas or engaged in the informal sector.
21. Lessons were drawn from the experience of developed countries. It was noted that many developed countries had rolled back some of the benefits of their pension or social schemes because of the lack of financial viability of the schemes. The Symposium noted that in designing pension schemes, there was a need for developing countries to note the age structure changes in their respective countries, the nature of the economy and the needs of older persons. It further discussed the relative merits of the "pay-as-you-go" system vis-a-vis the fully-funded system.
22. The importance of the family as one of the pillars in the provision of financial and income security was discussed at length by the Symposium. It was observed that while the support of the family might decline over time, its importance in providing support remained critical and important in Asia and the Pacific.
23. With regard to issues relating to the social position of older persons, social services, the family and the community, the Symposium emphasized the need to promote partnerships between the government, NGOs, the family and the community in order to ensure a sustainable solution to the improvement of the well-being of older persons. The Symposium indicated that older women had special needs and interests which should be considered by all concerned when formulating policies and programmes for older persons. It noted that older persons were often disadvantaged owing to lack of knowledge, resources, and information, including those relating to their benefits and rights.
24. Community-based support and services for older persons were discussed by the Symposium. In view of scarce resources available for projects for older persons, it agreed that community support should be considered as essential, especially in supporting implementation of policies at the local level. In this connection, the Symposium stressed that community organizations and services should be given high priority in the allocation of resources and other support.
25. As far as health and nutrition were concerned, the
Symposium held that health at old age was a result of conditions and ways
of earlier youth and adult life, and therefore old age should not be
looked at as a separate compartment of life, rather as the continuum of
one's life course. It also observed that health in old age was determined
by many risk factors and life styles, which could actually be prevented or
modified during the life course. In this regard, it was agreed that
focusing on health promotion and disease prevention were priority public
health concerns and that promotive and preventive efforts should be
implemented together with curative and rehabilitative efforts.
26. The Symposium reviewed the initial implementation of the Macau Plan of Action since its adoption in 1998, focusing on three areas: (a) infrastructure on ageing; (b) resource mobilization and allocation; and (c) regional and international support measures. The Symposium noted with satisfaction that a national infrastructure on ageing had already been established and national policies on ageing formulated in many ESCAP countries.
27. The Symposium reaffirmed that the implementation of the Macau Plan of Action was primarily a national responsibility requiring concerted efforts of governments, NGOs and other entities. It reiterated its call for governments to set up and incorporate goals and targets on ageing into national policies for development. In this connection, the Symposium agreed that governments should gather information and inputs from all the participating sectors.
28. The Symposium noted that in the implementation process, a multisectoral approach should be emphasized and additional resources devoted to the establishment of strengthening of the national infrastructure on ageing. In this regard, the Symposium was of the view that it was essential to promote the participation and mobilize the resources of NGOs, the private sector, and older persons themselves.
29. The Symposium emphasized the importance of networking among regional, national and in-country organizations working in the field of ageing and the need for networking to e conducted in a more coordinated manner. It recognized that training on home care should be provided to volunteers, family members and neighbours and communities as alternative resources.
30. In view of limited resources available to NGOs, the
Symposium emphasized the need to set up project teams to explore funding
resources and to link country programmes for a synergy of research.
31. The Symposium had before it the Macau Plan of Action on Ageing for Asia and the Pacific and document SD/ISPAT/WD.1 titled "Guidelines on the implementation of the Macau Plan of Action on Ageing for Asia and the Pacific". The draft guidelines served as a discussion paper for the Symposium.
32. The Symposium examined the goals charted out in the Macau Plan of Action with a view to setting out attainable targets for societies for all ages. It was of the view that the guidelines provided a reference to governments in the national implementation of the Macau Plan of Action.
33. The Symposium recognized the importance of international and regional cooperation and support in the implementation process. It suggested that ESCAP, as the regional arm of the United Nations for Asia and the Pacific be encouraged and enabled to continue to provide technical assistance and advisory services, especially in the exchange of information and coordination of activities, to its members and associate members in the region.
34. The Symposium participants also exchanged
information and views on important issues relating to possibilities for
the convening by the United Nations of a second World Assembly on Ageing
in the next millennium.
35. The Symposium adopted, on 29 October 1999, a set of recommendations for the ESCAP secretariat to refine the draft "Guidelines on the implementation of the Macau Plan of Action on Ageing for Asia and the Pacific" with a view to submitting the revised version to an appropriate ESCAP inter-governmental meeting for endorsement.
36. The recommendations are annexed to the present
37. In closing the Symposium, the Secretary for Social Affairs and Budgeting of the Government of Macau commended the participants for their active participation and valuable contribution. He expressed the hope that the Guidelines on the Implementation of the Macau Plan of Action on Ageing for Asia and the Pacific, once adopted by an appropriate ESCAP forum, would become a useful tool to governments and other organizations in their efforts to improve the quality of life of older persons. He called for continued cooperation among all concerned for the benefits of all and the leadership of ESCAP in this particular area.
38. In this closing remarks, the representative of
ESCAP thanked the Government of Macau for their generous support, warm
hospitality and for all the excellent arrangements without which the
Symposium could not have been a success.
Having reviewed the global and regional situation on ageing and carefully studied the major areas of concern relating to older persons in their respective countries, the Symposium recognized the need for guidelines on the implementation of the Macau Plan of Action. It considered document (SD/ISPAT/WD.1) Guidelines on the Implementation of the Macau Plan of Action on Ageing for Asia and the Pacific which had been prepared by the secretariat for that purpose. It noted that the document was to be finalized by the secretariat for submission to ESCAP members and associate members for their consideration and follow up action.
The Symposium agreed that the Guidelines covered all the major issues relating to ageing and older persons. It noted that the Guidelines identified the immediate tasks for Asia and the Pacific in implementing the Macau Plan of Action on Ageing. It agreed that the Guidelines provided broad directions to governments and other concerned organizations in setting time-bound goals and targets for the Planís implementation. In doing so, it recognized that differences existed in priorities and in circumstances and conditions among countries in the region.
It also acknowledged that the recent economic crisis in a number of countries in Southeast Asia had hampered the implementation of the Macau Plan of Action and adversely affected the well-being of the people, including older people.
The Symposium concurred that the Guidelines should be forwarded to governments and other concerned organizations for their consideration and follow up action. However, it suggested that the Guidelines be further refined to enhance their applicability and adaptability to various national circumstances and conditions in the region. Towards this end, it unanimously agreed on the following general and specific recommendations.
A. General recommendations
B. Social Position of older persons
C. Older persons and the family
D. Health and nutrition
E. Older persons and the market
F. Income security and employment
G. Social service and the community
H. National infrastructure for ageing
I. Coordination and monitoring
J. Resource mobilization
K. Regional and international cooperation
| Search | UN IYOP Homepage
© 2000 United Nations
ESCAP - All rights reserved.