'Mainstreaming' issues of ageing key task for next year's global conference - UN official

'Mainstreaming' issues of ageing key task for next year's global conference - UN official

A major challenge for the upcoming global conference on ageing is persuading governments to mainstream the issue of ageing in all national programmes and activities, according to a senior United Nations official.

Nitin Desai, the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, told a UN press briefing on Monday that the Second World Assembly on Ageing must recognize that the issue of ageing could not be handled as a social welfare problem, but something that had to be reflected in all the things that governments did. It should not be treated as a special problem to be tackled by a special department of a ministry.

In his remarks, Mr. Desai said that while the first Assembly had a major impact on public thinking on the question of ageing, a second conference – scheduled from 8 to 12 April 2002 in Madrid – was needed in the wake of changes that had taken place in the world, such as globalization.

There was now a growing recognition that the question was not an “industrial-country problem,” Mr. Desai noted, and that developing countries would be confronted over the next two decades with increases in the proportion of the aged in the population – a process which took nearly 100 years in the industrialized world.

The UN General Assembly decided last year to convene the Second Assembly on Ageing in 2002 to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the first conference and to review the outcome of that meeting. It was also mandated to map out a new international strategy for action on socio-cultural, economic and demographic realities of the 21st century.

A preparatory committee for the Second World Assembly has begun the first of three sessions at UN Headquarters in New York to negotiate a draft final document for the Madrid conference. That document would form the basis for a new international strategy to tackle the issues facing older persons.