Global Coalition on Aging  

Press Release: 06/13/13

Summit Marks EU’s Commitment to Building an Age-friendly Europe by 2020

Official Event of Ireland’s EU Presidency Hosted by Global Coalition on Aging and Ageing Well Network Will Drive Policy and Innovation for an Aging Europe

Dublin (13 June 3013) - The EU Summit on Active and Healthy Aging, beginning today in Dublin, will tackle the challenge of population aging, one of the most pressing issues facing Europe – and the globe. It comes just one day after the death of the world’s oldest person underscoring that aging can be characterized by health, productivity and optimism.  Japan’s Jiroemon Kimura died yesterday of natural causes at the age of 116, having worked  beyond retirement age and into his 90s, highlighting the folly of keeping with a retirement concept invented in another century.

As Europe’s aging population has already begun to experience health, economic and fiscal strife, this unique Summit seeks to implement solutions that turn this challenge into an opportunity. 

“Today’s aging challenge results from a shift in the proportion of old to young, creating a demographic make-up the world has never before experienced,” said Michael Hodin, PhD, Executive Director of the Global Coalition on Aging. “If left unaddressed, it will create a peculiar mismatch between 21st-century demographic realities and 20th-century public policy.  Yet those who meet the challenge with vision and innovation will be the winners in the 21st century’s competitiveness race.”

The majority of children born in Europe today will live to be at least 100 years old. Unless early action is taken, this rapidly increasing number of older people, exacerbated by plummeting birth rates, will be a huge burden on European finances. By bringing together global policymakers, business leaders, academics, economic experts and NGOs the Summit will explore ways to add two extra healthy years to people’s lives, ensuring that older people will be able to remain active and productive in society and in the workforce.

“To lead change for this demographic challenge in a sustainable way, we must create new competition, new jobs and incentives for new innovation,” said Esko Aho, Senior Fellow at Harvard University and former Prime Minister of Finland.  “From this Summit, we look to share not only good ideas, but also good execution.”

The centerpiece of the Summit is this evening’s signing of the 2013 Dublin Declaration on Age Friendly Cities and Communities by more than 50 mayors from across nearly 20 European countries. The ceremony will be led by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Naoise Ó Muirí. As it will establish Europe-wide commitment to the age-friendly movement, it will also mark the official launch of Dublin city as an age-friendly city.

“The [aging] challenges can be overcome if we act now to ensure a joined-up approach,” said Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science. “An older population will create demand for new types of products and services, so businesses must prepare for this change….We must ensure that this issue remains a top priority for all policymakers throughout Europe,” she said.

Over two days, the Summit will explore aging through a life course approach to staying active and healthy.  From rethinking the way we reach and plan for retirement to promoting the prevention of debilitating age-related skin conditions, and from reinventing the traditional view of senior care to investing in programs to fight the scourge of Alzheimer’s disease, the Summit will showcase some of the best innovations from across the globe and therefore lead to tangible solutions.

“Aging is an international challenge and that’s why it’s so important to develop a Europe-wide strategy,” said Anne Connolly, Director of the Ageing Well Network. “We’re very excited to host this Summit in Ireland, and I hope that this will be the start of a new thinking on aging throughout Europe,” she said.

Summit speakers include:

  • Esko Aho, Senior Fellow at Harvard University and former Prime Minister of Finland
  • John Beard, Director of the Department of Ageing and Life Course, World Health Organization
  • Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science
  • Baroness Sally Greengross, Member of the UK House of Lords and President of the International Longevity Centre UK
  • Phil Hogan, Ireland’s Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government
  • Jeff Huber, President of Home Instead Senior Care
  • Marko Mrsnik, Director in the European Sovereign Ratings Group at Standard and Poor’s
  • David Ryan, Global Director of Health Business Innovation at Intel Corporation

The Summit is hosted by the Global Coalition on Aging, in partnership with Ireland’s Ageing Well Network and with the support of the European Innovation Partnership. It is an official event of Ireland’s EU Presidency.

For further information, see www.ahaconference2013.ie.

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