Global perspective Human stories

UN forum in Madrid set to tackle challenges of ageing world population

UN forum in Madrid set to tackle challenges of ageing world population

Facing dramatic demographic changes as the world's population is getting older, particularly in the developing countries, delegates from around the globe will convene in Madrid, Spain, next week for a major United Nations conference on ageing issues.

The Second UN World Assembly on Ageing will open on 8 April to review the outcome of the first World Assembly, held in 1982 in Vienna, and to adopt a revised plan of action focusing on links between ageing and development as well as measures to mainstream ageing within the context of current global development agendas.

The five-day conference is also expected to examine appropriate forms of public and private partnerships at all levels to build a "society for all ages" and measures to strengthen the solidarity between generations.

According to UN officials, an ageing population also affords opportunities to capitalize on the wealth of skills and experience that older people bring to the workplace, to public life and to the family.

"Trees grow stronger over the years, rivers wider. Likewise, with age, human beings gain immeasurable depth and breadth of experience and wisdom," UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who will open the World Assembly on Monday, has said. "That is why older persons should be not only respected and revered; they should be utilized as the rich resource to society that they are."

Real-time coverage of the World Assembly can be found on the UN Web site at and is available in six languages - Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.