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SPSSI in the UN

Global Ageing in the 21st Century

by Pete Walker, SPSSI UN/NGO Representative

By now, you have heard that people over the age of 60 years of age make up the fastest growing segment of the global population, and that improved health care has added 20 years to life since the 1950’s. For a number of years, SPSSI has been following these trends through its work at the United Nations.  In 2002, SPSSI’s UN/NGO Representatives participated in the Second World Assembly on Ageing in Madrid, where they offered a session at the NGO Forum, lobbied mission delegations and drafted suggested language for consideration in the final Assembly Document, the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA).  This year is the 5th anniversary of the Madrid Plan and, as part of the celebration of the 2007 International Day of Older Persons (IDOP), the NGO Committee on Ageing, New York (COA - NY) prepared a compact disc containing extensive current and historical resources on “Global Ageing in the 21st Century.”  The contents of the disc will soon be available at the UN segment of the SPSSI web site at  

This resource will introduce you to the powerful illustration of the demographic change which is projected for the world’s population by the year 2050.  It outlines the mission and goals of the UN NGO Committee on Ageing, and presents an extensive list of UN documents dealing specifically with the world’s ageing population, linking you directly to the text.  Of particular interest is MIPAA, with three Priority Directions: older persons and development; advancing health and well-being into old age; and ensuring enabling and supportive environments.  Each theme has an extensive list of action items.  You will find a concise list of actionable items, suggested by NGO COA – NY under the heading – “Act now: suggested items from MIPAA.”

“Global Ageing in the 21st Century” also offers referrals to a number of web resources.   The first directory is of “Important UN and Agency Web Sites,” which includes the “UN Programme on Ageing,” and the “UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division.”  Also to be found are the web addresses of a number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) which have as their focus older individuals: Global Action on Aging; HelpAge International; and the International Federation on Ageing, are a few.  If you have an interest in programs on ageing that are unfolding the in six regions of the United Nations, you can find addresses for regional Commissions on the web: UN Economic Commission for Europe (ECE); UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP); and UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). 

The NGO Committee on Ageing – New York, regularly publishes the proceedings of the annual celebrations of the International Day of Older Persons at United Nation Headquarters.  Four of the most recent proceedings are available as part of “Global Ageing in the 21st Century,” with links to the files containing the proceedings for 2003 through 2007.  The NGO COA – NY requests that the Committee be given credit, should you use these materials in your work.  Also available are the recent proceedings of programs on Multigenerational Relationships (A Sub-committee of NGOCOA, NY).

In all, the collected contents of “Global Ageing in the 21st Century” will be helpful to both advocates of and researchers on the growing population of older persons worldwide.  For comments and questions, please feel free to contact Pete Walker, SPSSI UN/NGO Representative, e-mail

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