Asia-Pacific nations agree on way forward to build a society for all ages

Asia-Pacific governments have concluded three days of talks by endorsing the Bangkok Statement on the Asia-Pacific Review of the Implementation of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA).

Asia-Pacific is at the forefront of the global phenomenon of population ageing. The number of older persons is rising at an unprecedented pace unmatched by any other region. Currently, the region is home to just over half of the world’s elderly population. By 2050, almost two thirds of the world’s older persons will be living in Asia-Pacific.

The Bangkok Statement calls for preparing for and adapting to the ageing of Asia-Pacific by strengthening social protection systems, including provision of universal old-age income security through pensions, and by adapting health systems in response to the needs of older persons through an integrated continuum of care.

Some 100 senior officials and civil society representatives from 30 Asia-Pacific countries met this week at the Asia-Pacific Intergovernmental Meeting on the Second Review and Appraisal of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing convened by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) to review the region’s progress in the implementation of MIPAA and to identify the way forward to build society for all ages.

“Timely policy measures are essential for making the vital social and economic adjustments necessary to prepare for national and collective regional transition to an ageing society,” said Mr. Shun-ichi Murata, Officer-in-charge a.i. of ESCAP.

As an example, Thailand’s current National Plan for Older Persons (2002-2021) serves as the comprehensive strategic plan for action on the elderly. “The objectives of this Plan are to promote older persons’ well-being through setting actions that emphasize the dignity, autonomy and security of older adults,” said H.E. Mr. Santi Promphat, Minister of Social and Development and Human Security, Thailand.

The meeting highlighted positive contributions made by older persons to their families, communities and society. Ms. Mohini Giri, Chairperson of the Guild for Service, told delegates: “I believe that the knowledge that older persons have from their lived experiences generates ideas important for policy making and for resetting social, economic and political issues towards social justice… the voices of older persons across the world have become marginalized.”

The Bangkok Statement will serve as the Asia-Pacific input to the global review and appraisal of MIPAA to be conducted in New York in early 2013 under the auspices of the United Nations Commission for Social Development.