From today until 18 November, specialists from governments, international organizations, civil society, the private sector and academia will be meeting at the headquarters of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) to prepare for the third appraisal -scheduled to take place in 2017- of the implementation of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing in the region’s countries, where 70 million older people live.
This Wednesday, the Deputy Executive Secretary of ECLAC, Antonio Prado, and the Undersecretary for Social Services at Chile’s Ministry of Social Development, Juan Eduardo Faúndez, inaugurated the Second Meeting of Experts to Follow-up on the Charter of San José on the Rights of Older Persons, which is the mechanism adopted to implement the Plan of Action in the region. The event was jointly organized by ECLAC and Chile’s National Senior Citizens’ Service (SENAMA).
According to United Nations figures, there are currently almost 900 million people aged sixty and over in the world, and that total could rise to 1.4 billion by the year 2030. Official figures for Chile indicate that by 2020 the country could be home to equal numbers of older people and young people aged under 15.
As Antonio Prado explained, in contrast to those commentators who maintain that ageing and declining working-age populations could lead to lower levels of economic dynamism or greater pressure on social protection systems, the United Nations insists that this demographic phenomenon is not a problem in and of itself.
“Governments today are in a position to transform the negative effects of that probable reality through public policies aimed at ensuring older persons more decent standards of living and combating the discrimination they face. Without such policies, it will be practically impossible to incorporate them into the development with equality pursued by ECLAC and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” the Deputy Executive Secretary said.
In turn, Undersecretary Juan Eduardo Faúndez said that designing public policies to address this issue first required careful thought about the level of dignity with which older people need to be treated and about our notions of work and the right to leisure and free time. He also stressed that initiatives targeting this segment of the population must transcend the sectoral arena of social policies and take the form of structural measures.
The Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing was adopted in 2002 and progress with it is reviewed every five years. ECLAC is the United Nations agency responsible for its monitoring and evaluation in this region. The San José Charter on the Rights of Older Persons in Latin America and the Caribbean was adopted in Costa Rica in 2012 and constitutes the regional road map.
Following the meeting’s inauguration, the Director of the Latin American and Caribbean Demographic Centre (CELADE)-Population Division of ECLAC, Paulo Saad, gave an overview of progress with its implementation.
Over the coming days, the meeting’s participants will also examine the level of compliance with the government commitments adopted at the three Regional Intergovernmental Conferences on Ageing held to date (Chile, 2003; Brazil, 2007; and Costa Rica, 2012). In addition, they will plan out the national examination and evaluation mechanism to be implemented in preparation for the Fourth Intergovernmental Conference, which will take place in Paraguay in 2017.
The results will be presented in 2018 at the 56th session of the United Nations Commission for Social Development, the agency responsible for worldwide follow-up of the Plan of Action.
In addition to this process, the meeting also covers two other areas of work: the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and mechanisms for it to address older people and their needs more comprehensively; and the Inter-American Convention on Protecting the Human Rights of Older Persons, which provides a binding legal framework for protecting seniors’ rights and which, following its ratification by Costa Rica and Uruguay, has now come into effect.