The Decade of Healthy Ageing: a new UN-wide initiative

Healthy old couple

14 December 2020 - The United Nations General Assembly today declared 2021-2030 the Decade of Healthy Ageing.

“Today’s announcement of the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing sends a clear signal that it is only by working as one, within the United Nations system and with governments, civil society and the private sector, that we will be able to not only add years to life, but also life to years,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, in response to today’s development.

“By adopting a UN-wide approach in support of healthy ageing, we will be able to galvanize international action to improve the lives of older people, their families and communities, both during the COVID-19 pandemic, and beyond,” added Dr Etienne Krug, Director of the Department of Social Determinants of Health at WHO.

Health is central to our experience of older age and the opportunities that ageing brings. Initiatives undertaken as part of the Decade will seek to: change how we think, feel and act towards age and ageing; facilitate the ability of older people to participate in and contribute to their communities and society; deliver integrated care and primary health services that are responsive to the needs of the individual; and provide access to long-term care for older people who need it.

The UN Resolution, which follows recent endorsement of the Decade by the World Health Assembly, expresses concern that, despite the predictability of population ageing and its accelerating pace, the world is not sufficiently prepared to respond to the rights and needs of older people. It acknowledges that the ageing of the population impacts our health systems but also many other aspects of society, including labour and financial markets and the demand for goods and services, such as education, housing, long-term care, social protection and information. It thus requires a whole-of-society approach.

The Resolution also calls upon the World Health Organization to lead the implementation of the Decade, in collaboration with the other UN organizations. Governments, international and regional organizations, civil society, the private sector, academia and the media are encouraged to actively support the Decade’s goals.

"Today’s announcement is the culmination of many years of collaboration with partners across the world,” said Alana Officer, who leads WHO’s Demographic Change and Healthy Ageing team. “But it also represents a new beginning. If we are to be successful in delivering the change envisaged under the Decade, we need new ways of working”.

WHO and UN partners are seeking inputs from all interested stakeholders to help build a collaborative Platform where all knowledge on ageing can be accessed, shared, and produced in one place  ̶  by anyone, anywhere in the world.