According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the physical and social environments are key determinants of whether people can remain healthy, independent and autonomous long into their old age. Promoting age-friendly environments (AFE) is one of the most effective approaches for responding to demographic ageing and increasing the Healthy Life Year indicator. AFE empower older people to age in better physical and mental health, promote their social inclusion and active participation and help them maintain their autonomy and a good quality of life in their old age. AFE enable older workers to remain at work for longer, lower the pressure on traditional care and assistance and boost the economy through demand for innovative solutions.
Many solutions supporting active and healthy ageing have been developed as pilots across the EU, but they remain isolated and do not get scaled up, not even in their own country. This means that their impact on addressing Europe demographic challenge is limited. Except in a very few countries that have a national programme on ageing, the various governance levels that need to work together to support age-friendly environments do not coordinate their action and there is no structure at EU level to coordinate local/regional/national actors willing to support AFE.
For that reason AGE insisted that one of the action groups of the European Innovation partnership for Active and Healthy (EIP AHA) should be devoted to age-friendly environments. This is how the EIP AHA Action Group D4 was created and in this group AGE is coordinating the Action Area 2 which promotes a European covenant on demographic change. The proposed Covenant has received the support of the Committee of the Regions in their “Opinion on Active Ageing: Innovation, Smart Health and Better Lives” requested by the Danish EU Presidency and of a large network of stakeholders (local and regional authorities, research centres, NGOs, etc.)
To support our objective of creating an age-friendly EU by 2020 and the launch of a EU Covenant on Demographic Change, AGE coordinated a large EU project entitled AFE-INNOVNET which sought to set up a large EU wide community of local and regional authorities (LRAs) and other relevant stakeholders across the EU who want to work together to find smart and innovative evidence based solutions to support active and healthy ageing and develop age-friendly environments (AFE) across the European Union. This work was done in close cooperation with WHO that provided technical expertise and documents to support this EU network on age-friendly environments. The ultimate aim of the project was to develop a strong movement across the EU for the promotion of age-friendly environments that will use the relevant EU policies and funding instruments and will become the WHO Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities programme for the EU area: as of 2016 the EU Covenant on Demographic Change - to which AGE is a member of - was created.
Our commitment as part of the EIP AHA has been published on the on-line portal of the European Commission.
Objectives and areas for action
This Task Force aims to support AGE campaign on age-friendly environments and to provide expertise and feedback from older people’s perspective on the relevant activities to be carried out by the EU Covenant on Demographic Change.
It will also contribute to the activities carried out in the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities, where AGE, in coordination with other partners, is working more specifically on the involvement of older citizens. Last but not least 2016 should be a key year regarding the development of EU initiatives linked to urban policies and thus a good opportunity to further advocate for age-friendly environments.
EU research projects
We have been involved in a number of EU-funded projects dealing with age-friendly environments. You can view them here.
Julia Wadoux, Policy Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org
Using the opportunity offered by the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Health Ageing (EIP AHA), AGE Platform Europe has committed to set up and moderate an EU virtual forum on Age-Friendly Environments (AFE) to link stakeholders (public authorities, NGOs, service providers, industry, researchers) interested in the promotion of AFE at local, regional, national and EU level.
With our partners and virtual forum members, AGE will call on the European Commission to launch an EU Covenant on Demographic Change. The Covenant will seek to create the necessary political framework to bring together local and regional authorities across the EU who want to find smart and innovative solutions to support active and healthy ageing and develop age-friendly environments.
Once established the Covenant will encourage local and regional authorities across the EU to adopt WHO policy frameworks and guidance on AFE, to join the WHO network of cities that cooperate on age-friendly policies and to get actively involved in the EIP and relevant EU initiatives towards a more age-friendly EU.
As a WHO Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities Institutional Affiliate and cooperative partner of the Sub-Network on Healthy Ageing of the WHO European Healthy Cities Network, AGE will set up and moderate a discussion group with both networks and provide them with information on other EIP initiatives, relevant EU policy developments and EU funding opportunities to support synergies between WHO and EU initiatives supporting healthy ageing and to facilitate their involvement in EU policy processes and in EU projects.
To view to Communication of the European Commission, please visit:
If you wish to be join our virtual network, please register on line at:
Survey on the needs of regions, cities and towns for EU support on age-friendly environments
AGE together with the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) prepared a short online survey about challenges and support needs to becoming age-friendly municipalities, cities and regions. The survey is now closed and the results are to be issued by the end of May.