Ageing and the MDGs

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are eight international development goals that all 193 United Nations member states and at least 23 international organizations have agreed to achieve by the year 2015. They include eradicating extreme poverty, reducing child mortality rates, fighting disease epidemics such as AIDS, and developing a global partnership for development. With only few years left until the 2015 deadline to achieve the MDGs, countries from the developing and from the developed world need to channel their efforts. A more inclusive approach is needed to accelerate progress.

There is a lack of awareness that elderly people play an important role for achieving the MDGs. While the MDGs have specific targets on children and youth, they are silent on the issues of age, disability and ethnicity. Older people are disproportionally represented amongst the chronically poor. It has been estimated that less than 20 per cent of older people in the world are currently covered by pensions which suggests that as many as 607 million people aged 60 and above lack income security. Chronic poverty affects whole households and is transmitted across generations.

If the needs of older people are ignored a growing section of the global poor will fall outside of the remit of current development strategies and as the world ages at an increasing rate the goals set out in the MDGs will be increasingly difficult to achieve.

Population ageing, though often regarded as a crisis involving the increasing 'burden' of older people, should be seen as a significant achievement. Rising life expectancy is a key indicator of progress in human development. The challenge is to ensure that population ageing brings real gains for all older people, in terms of material well-being, health and personal security.

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