The 20th International Day of Older Persons (IDOP) will continue to build on significant United Nations (UN) milestones that acknowledge older persons as an increasingly major segment of society. In 2009, there were 737 million persons age 60 or older. This cohort is expected to grow to more than 2 billion by 2050. It is our task as the NGO Committee on Ageing, among others, to move forward the implementation of the action items found in the 2002 Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, adopted by Member States during the Second World Assembly on Ageing: a) older persons and development; b) advancing health and well-being in old age; and c) ensuring enabling and supportive environments.
In September 2000, Member States of the UN affirmed their collective responsibility to uphold the principles of human dignity, equality, and equity at the global level in the form of the UN Millennium Declaration. Member States considered certain fundamental values to be essential: freedom, equity, tolerance, respect for nature, and shared responsibility. In order to translate these shared values into action, eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were identified: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development.
Although the MDGs are the outgrowth of and summary statement for the multiple World Conferences held in the 1990s, several of which specifically addressed global ageing, the UN Millennium documents fail to recognize this worldwide unprecedented phenomenon and the potential contributions of this major group in achieving the MDGs. Older persons remain essentially invisible in the MDGs; however, these individuals are vital to the achievement of the MDGs.