7 December 2015
Towards an Age-Friendly Europe: Launch of the EU Covenant on Demographic Change
Today, the AFE-INNOVNET Thematic Network on innovation for age-friendly environments is very pleased to launch the Covenant on Demographic Change. The Covenant is set to become the new EU-wide association gathering local, regional and national authorities, civil society organisations, universities, and businesses that commit to cooperate and implement evidence-based solutions to support active and healthy ageing as a comprehensive answer to Europe’s demographic challenge.
Europe is rapidly ageing. People aged 65+ represented 17.4% of the population in 2010 and this is set to reach 30% in 2060. Therefore, today’s urgency is to find sustainable solutions to empower people to live healthily, actively and independently for longer, in order to lower the pressure put on family carers and on public health and long-term care budgets, as well as to enhance quality of life and well-being in later age.
“We think that the best approach to ageing is the promotion of age-friendly communities where public space, transport, housing and local services are conceived with the needs of all generations in mind, fostering also solidarity and cooperation between generations”, underlined Markku Markkula, President of the Committee of the Regions.
Public authorities, as main providers of services and responsible for territorial planning, are playing a key role here. This is why, with the support of the Committee of the Regions, the European Commission and in close cooperation with the World Health Organisation, more than 150 subnational authorities, research centres and civil society organisations have gathered today to launch the Covenant on Demographic Change.
The Covenant on Demographic Change, legally established as an international non-profit association under the Belgian law, is open to all interested parties (i.e. local, regional and national authorities, as well as civil society organisations, industries, research centres and universities) that voluntarily commit to making age-friendly environments a reality in their communities and to share their experience with other Covenant members.
The Covenant “harnesses the expertise and experience of stakeholders at local, regional and national levels, along with that of European policymakers. This collective knowledge will help tackle the challenges of an ageing society”, commented Commissioner Marianne Thyssen in her introductory speech. “By formalising and structuring discussions with local and regional actors, it will give both the technical framework and the political impetus to create age-friendly environments”, she continued.
By joining the Covenant, European local and regional authorities will position themselves at the forefront in addressing population ageing. They will benefit from a wide range of opportunities for mutual learning and partnership, various tools to implement and assess the impact of their age-friendly initiatives, and will lead the way to help Europe become age-friendly.
“The idea of such a Covenant was born during the European Year 2012 on Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations. After several years of hard work, we are very happy to launch it today at the Committee of the Regions”, said Anne-Sophie Parent, Secretary General of AGE Platform European and AFE-INNOVNET Coordinator. “We are even more pleased to see that already 70 organisations, including 43 cities and regions, have already decided to join. This is a great step to make population ageing an opportunity for Europe and finally recognise seniors as an asset and not as a burden”, she added.
“After two years of hard work within the AFE-INNOVNET Thematic Network, we want to maintain and expand our position on rehabilitation of our elder citizens, to keep physically active and self-reliant – enabling to “Life Long Living”, said Mayor Jacob Bjerregaard, from the Fredericia Municipality in Denmark. “By joining the Covenant, Fredericia gets a unique opportunity to stay ahead of the challenges and opportunities linked to demographic change”, he concluded.