FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE FIFTY EIGHT SESSION
OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF OLDER PERSONS
1 OCTOBER 2003
is important that we recognise the challenges facing our
global community, but more importantly, that we go beyond
these challenges to take effective action to address them.
The dramatic increase in the number of people worldwide
that are living longer is one such challenge, and has put
issues concerning older persons squarely on the global agenda.
as we join hands with people around the world in the 13th
Annual Celebration of the International Day of Older Persons,
we are reminded of the facts compelling our countries and
our world to comprehensively address the issues of ageing.
Last year, the number of persons aged 60 years or older
was estimated to be 629 million representing one in every
ten persons. It is estimated that by the year 2050 that
figure will rise to one in every five and by 2150, one in
every 3 persons will be 60 years of age or older. The World
Bank estimates that approximately 70% of older persons now
live in developing countries.
difficult to imagine how countries may progress if such
a significant proportion of the population is not taken
into account in the development process. Therefore, I consider
the theme for the 13thInternational Day,"Older People
- New Power for Development", to be both essential
and timely. I wish especially to commend the NGO Committee
on Ageing for taking up this essential approach to issues
concerning older persons in its complementary theme,"Mainstreaming
Ageing: Forging Links Between the Madrid Plan of Action
on Ageing and the Millennium Development Goals.
themes focus not only on the positive contribution older
persons have made, but as well, on the development possibilities
they represent. We are mindful, however, of the challenges
that the ageing of populations present, particularly to
countries in the developing world, many of which are grappling
with serious issues such as debt and poverty, and facing
the uncertainties of globalisation and trade liberalisation.
And even as we celebrate longevity, we are reminded that
life expectancy in many parts of the world continues to
be impacted by conflict, war and disease. Older persons,
who are among the most vulnerable in society, are also among
the first to fall victim to these devastating occurrences.
the international framework which forms the basis for the
integration of older persons into the development process,
and to ensure that issues of concern to older persons are
comprehensively and continuously addressed. The 1999 Principles
for Older Persons identifies: Independence, Participation,
Care, Self-Fulfilment and Dignity as central features of
our action in respect of older persons. The Madrid International
Plan of Action on Ageing recognises the benefits that older
persons can make to society, and seeks to mainstream ageing
into development frameworks and poverty reduction strategies.
The Plan of Action takes the approach that, as in the case
of other groups in society, older people should be involved
in decisions and action both to promote development and
to enjoy its benefits.
us now reaffirm our commitment to embrace older persons
as a most cherished resource, with an essential contribution
to make to social, economic and cultural development. Let
us undertake to work with them to tap their wisdom, experience
and skills in the building of our communities and societies.
And let us recognise their contribution to the wider international
community in meeting the objectives set out in the United
is also an opportune time to renew our commitments made
to older persons, giving special emphasis to their health
and well-being, mobilising public support for issues of
ageing, building strong partnerships between governments
and international organisations as well as civil society
and individuals to meet the goals and objectives we haves
set and providing adequate resources for action-oriented
programmes in this area. Above all, let us give high priority
to implementing the Madrid Plan of action, as we work towards
implementing the United Nations development agenda, particularly
the Millennium Development goals.
this day dedicated to honouring older persons, I salute
my fellow older persons around the world.