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International Day for Disaster Reduction
13 October

Background

Fourth year of four-year "Step Up" campaign focuses on Older Persons

2014 is the final year in the four-year “Step-Up” Campaign on the International Year for Disaster Reduction. The campaign was designed to raise awareness and advocate for inclusive disaster risk reduction, each year focusing on the role of important actors such as Children and Young People (2011), Women and Girls (2012), People Living with Disability (2013) and this year Older Persons (2014).

The world is ageing. Globally, approximately 700 million people or 10 per cent of the world’s population is already over the age of 60, and by 2030, there will be more people over 60 than under 10. While this represents a triumph of development, the combination of more extreme climate and disaster events coupled with the failure to adapt disaster risk reduction responses to the ageing demographic trend has the potential to increase older people’s vulnerability to risks and disasters. Yet, the specific requirements and strengths of older people are often not given appropriate consideration in disaster risk reduction.

The vital need to acknowledge older people as a resource for resilience and ensure their equal participation in resilience building needs to be recognised. Global temperatures increases have led to greater environmental and climatic risks. And climate changes is occurring alongside rapid population growth and population ageing. Populations are ageing most rapidly in developing countries, which are currently home to 60 per cent of the world’s older persons, projected to rise to 80 per cent by 2050. This collision of increasing global disaster risk and increasing numbers of exposed older persons must be addressed at every level of disaster management planning to ensure that the impact of disaster does not continue to grow along with these trends.

Charter 14 for Older People in Disaster Risk Reduction

Charter 14 for Older People in Disaster Risk Reduction calls for stronger commitment from governments, donors and organisations to act on the shortcomings in disaster risk reduction policies, strategies and practices that often insufficiently respond to older people’s disaster risks. They must acknowledge and fulfil older people’s rights and engage older people’s capacities and contributions. The Charter has been developed through consultations with governments, NGOs, disaster risk reduction and ageing experts as well as older men and women (and can be signed by governments and organizations who, by signing, commit to at least one of its standards). Fourteen minimum standards which underpin the three key principles have been developed. Charter 14 calls for an inclusive approach whereby disaster risk reduction responds to older people:

  1. In need: Older people have specific requirements which must be understood and responded to within all disaster risk reduction activities.
  2. Invisible: Older people’s vulnerabilities and capacities are often overlooked; the collection of data on people’s age and sex is essential to ensure older people and other people at risk are visible and supported in disaster risk reduction.
  3. Invaluable: Older people have years of knowledge, skills and wisdom which are invaluable assets in DRR and must be acknowledged, valued and engaged by supporting older people to participate in disaster risk reduction.

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