This blog was contributed by Emily Georghiou, Age UK’s Public Affairs Adviser – Age Action.
I recently had the privilege to attend the 2013 signing of the Dublin Declaration on Age Friendly Cities and Communities on behalf of Age UK. Over 40 mayors and representatives were present from over 60 cities and municipalities across Europe, all committed to making their localities great places to grow old.
The Dublin Declaration was originally signed in 2011, during the 1st International Conference on Age Friendly Cities.
Building on this and timed to coincide with the Irish Presidency and EU Summit on Active and Healthy Ageing, the Dublin Declaration 2013 includes a new EU pledge to uphold a set of principles to measure, benchmark and drive future development of age friendly cities.
A procession of forward-thinking mayors was led into the grand chamber of Dublin’s King’s Inns by a full regalia of bagpipes, ceremonial sword and mace. Joining them was Lithuania’s Mayor of Zarasai District, promising they will take over the EU Presidency this July. For the UK, Manchester was joined by a number of others from the UK’s age-friendly cities network.
All signatories of the ‘Dublin Declaration on Age-Friendly Cities and Communities in Europe 2013’ agree to promote the Declaration, to collaborate with others and communicate through their networks to share learning, promote equal rights, opportunities and outcomes for older people.
They also pledge to promote and implement actions based on the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Global Age-Friendly Cities Guide. These include promoting participation of older people in social and cultural life; inclusive and accessible design; access to affordable transport, housing and services which allow for dignity and autonomy; employment and volunteering opportunities and lifelong learning.
An intergenerational message came through about building sustainable lifetime neighbourhoods which can enable people of all ages to live, work and play together. This important emphasis builds on the themes of the 2012 European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity Between the Generations.
It’s also about recognising diversity within generations and remembering that older people are not one homogenous group. Measures to support people to live longer in their own homes can actually benefit us all – enabling people of all ages and abilities to engage as active citizens, able to live longer, more independent lives in their communities.
Ensuring our environments remain accessible to us as we age requires us to think across the life course, across ability, health and wellbeing and ensure that in future our shared community spaces are more dementia and frailty friendly too.
The EU Summit buzzwords were ‘networks’, ‘partnerships’ and ‘collaboration’, highlighting their importance to realising age friendly cities. Age Platform Europe and the Age Action Alliance are working to ensure older people’s voices are part of the solution, including through the Alliance theme on Age Friendly Environments. Both are committed to working across their networks to support exchange of good practice and learning and create momentum.
The Dublin Declaration was an important marker in the run up to an Age Friendly 2020 goal. I hope to see even more cities come on board in the years to come.