Asian-Pacific Regional Meeting on Population Ageing Opens in Macao

Forum to Review Progress in Implementing Global Plan in the Past Five Years

Senior officials and representatives from about 25 countries in Asia and the Pacific have gathered in Macao for a high-level meeting which will review progress the region has made in response to the challenges posed by population ageing.

Organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) with the support of the Government of Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR), China, the meeting, which opened today, will review key developments in the area of ageing since 2002, when a landmark agreement was adopted at the Second World Assembly on Ageing in Madrid.

This year marks the fifth anniversary of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing -- a milestone document which calls for changes in attitudes, policies and practices at all levels and in all sectors, so that the enormous potential of “a society for all ages” may be fulfilled in the 21st century.

“This meeting provides an opportunity for governments and civil society to review and appraise the results of their work on ageing issues, exchange information and experience, and identify priorities for the future”, said Thelma Kay, Director, Emerging Social Issues Division of UNESCAP, at the opening of the meeting, which is being held from 9 to 11 October at Macao’s Tourism Activities Centre.

She noted that “ for the first time [at the Second World Assembly on Ageing], governments agreed on the need to link ageing to other frameworks for social and economic development and human rights, recognizing that ageing will be the dominant and most visible demographic phenomenon in the present century.”

Ms.Kay added that “recognizing the many social and economic implications of the ageing process, governments in the region today have accorded higher attention to ageing issues and many embarked on developing their own national plans and policies for older persons”.

“In the next three days, we will hear more about the efforts made by respective Governments in tackling the challenges of ageing”, she said.

The Meeting was officially inaugurated by Mr. Chui Sai On, Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Government of Macao SAR, China.

Besides examining the region’s changing demographic dynamics and progress made in implementing the Madrid Plan of Action, the high-level meeting will identify priorities for further actions in three pillar areas; older persons and development, advancing health and well-being into old age, and ensuring enabling and supportive environments.

Naohiro Ogawa from Nihon University, Japan; Alfred Chan, Lingnan University, Hong Kong, China, and Eva Anne J. Sabdono, Yayasan Emong Lansia, Indonesia, are among the prominent demographers/researchers who will address the meeting.

In Asia and the Pacific, the number of older persons is growing rapidly, from 410 million in 2007 to about 733 million in 2025 and to an expected 1.3 billion in 2050. In terms of percentages, older persons will constitute about 15 per cent of the total population in 2025 and up to nearly 25 per cent by 2050, from over 10 per cent now.

“Population ageing brings significant economic and social challenges, for developed and developing countries alike”, said United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, in a message marking the International Day of Older Persons on 1 October.

“Sobering statistics show that some 80 per cent of the world’s population are not covered by social protection in old age. Finding ways to provide economic support for a growing number of older persons, through sustainable pension programmes and new social protection measures, is a daunting task, particularly in developing countries”, Mr. Ban said.

The High-level Meeting on the Regional Review of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA) will conclude on Thursday 11 October. A press conference will be held on that day at 16.00 in the Tourism Activities Centre.

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For more information about the Meeting, please visit http://www.unescap.org/esid/psis/meetings/AgeingMipaa2007/index.asp