The World Economic Forum offers a great platform for providing global leadership and thinking on global ageing, as well as promoting thinking on wellness and tackling the challenges of non-communicable diseases to enable older people to keep well and continue contributing to their communities. 

Some countries are fully onboard and are working to empower older people. In Brazil, for example, the government ensures that the elderly have basic pensions and has passed legislation that supports businesses and the public sector to provide better services for older people.

HelpAge International, an organization that helps older people claim their rights, challenge discrimination and overcome poverty so that they can lead dignified, secure and healthy lives, has for decades also been working to strengthen global attention to ageing and development. Today, on international women’s day the organization contributions to raise awareness about global ageing issues have been recognized by the prestigious Hilton Humanitarian Prize.

Yet many governments, businesses and civil society actors are missing opportunities facing them as they grey and are not taking advantage of the longevity dividend, which is based on:

  • Good basic preventative health systems that keep us well
  • Good employment practices that enable us to keep economically active for as long as we would like
  • A basic pension for older people
  • Getting older people and younger people to understand each other and work together

Policy-makers should understand demographic transitions. We are all living longer, which is great. But we must engage older citizens as stakeholders in order to realize the longevity dividend.

For more information on global population ageing, read the following report by the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Ageing, which was launched by World Health Organization Director-General Margret Chan at the Annual Meeting 2012 in Davos: http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GAC_GlobalPopulationAgeing_Report_2012.pdf

* Richard Blewitt is Chief Executive of HelpAge International, United Kingdom and member of the Global Agenda Council on Employment & Social Protection