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Statement on behalf of the Group of Friends of Older Persons At the General Debate of the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

Intervention by Ambassador Milenko Skoknic, Permanent Representative of Chile to the United Nations

July 16


Thank you Mr. Chair,

I have the pleasure to deliver this statement on behalf of the “Group of Friends of Older Persons” at the United Nations in New York. The Group is comprised by Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Qatar, Slovenia, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Uruguay and my own country Chile.

The Group of Friends for Older Persons (GOFOP) was established during the Fourth Session of the Open Ended Working Group on Ageing, in August 2013, with the purpose of promoting and mainstreaming the rights and dignity of older persons, within the UN system -including its agencies and subsidiary bodies, among other fora.

In this regard the GoFOP is pleased to deliver this statement for the first time at the High Level Political Forum and take this opportunity to renew its commitment to promote and ensure the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for older persons, including by taking measures to combat discrimination on the basis of age and sex, as well as neglect, abuse and violence, and to also address issues related to social integration.

The theme of this year, “Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality” and the SDGs under review (especially SDG 4, SDG 8, SDG10 and SDG17) are particularly relevant for the older persons across the world. We would like to remind everyone that the number of older persons is projected to reach 1.4 billion by 2030, an increase that will be the greatest and the most rapid in the developing world, and indications that by 2030 older persons will outnumber youth, as well as children under age 10, globally.

This reality emphasizes the urgent need to recognize that greater and urgent attention needs to be paid to the specific challenges affecting older persons an integral part of the pursuit of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The empowerment of older persons and the promotion of their full participation are essential elements for active ageing. On SDG 4, education and training can empower individuals to enhance their employability, decent work and life-long learning. In the changing world of work, older persons are faced with constant technological change and without education or training, older persons will experience alienation. Thus, increased access to education at a younger age will benefit persons throughout the life course. Moreover, technology can be used to bring persons together and thereby contribute to the reduction of marginalization, loneliness and segregation between the ages. Measures that enable older persons to have access to, take part in and adjust to technological changes should therefore be taken.

The social and economic contribution of older persons reaches beyond their economic activities. They often play crucial roles in families and in the community that are not measured in economic terms: care for family members, productive subsistence work, household maintenance and voluntary activities in the community. Moreover, these roles contribute to the preparation of the future labour force. All these contributions, including those made through unpaid work in all sectors by persons of all ages, particularly women, should be recognized.

Our Group firmly believes that mainstreaming ageing and the human rights of older persons into global agendas is essential and a concerted effort is required to move towards a wide and equitable approach to policy integration. The task is to link ageing to other frameworks for social and economic development and human rights. In this regard we stress the importance of collecting and analysing reliable data on older persons, underlining the need for internationally comparable data. Whereas specific policies will vary according to country and region, population ageing is a universal force that has the power to shape the future.

To conclude, Mr. Chairman, we call upon all Member States and the international community to design and implement policies and programmes, as well as devising adequate national, regional and international legal frameworks that effectively and specifically promote the full enjoyment of the human rights of older persons and allow their full social inclusion, without any restrictions and free from all forms of discrimination and violence, being able to actively participate in their societies and contribute to its development.

Leaving no one behind means also inclusion of older persons.

I thank you.

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