WHO works in close cooperation with the European Union on health promotion and healthy ageing. The Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities (GNAFCC) was established to foster the exchange of experience and mutual learning between cities and communities worldwide. Any city or community that is committed to creating inclusive and accessible urban environments to benefit their ageing populations is welcome to join. GNAFCC helps cities and communities support active and healthy ageing by better addressing older people’s needs across eight dimensions: the built environment, transport, housing, social participation, respect and social inclusion, civic participation and employment, communication, and community support and health services. AGE is a GNAFCC institutional affiliate and we are working collaboratively to promote age-friendly environments at the EU level. In the frame of the European Year 2012 AGE and its partners call on the European Commission to launch an EU Covenant of Mayors on Demographic Change that will seek to create the 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.
WHO Europe network of Healthy Cities is another useful initiative that engages local governments in health development through a process of political commitment, institutional change, capacity-building, partnership-based planning and innovative projects. About 90 cities are members of the WHO European Healthy Cities Network, and 30 national Healthy Cities networks across the WHO European Region have more than 1400 cities and towns as members.
You can encourage your local authorities to become more age-friendly and to join the Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities and/or the Healthy Cities network. You can also encourage them to support the call for a European Covenant of Mayors on Demographic Change and to join this movement when it will be launched. If you wish to be kept informed of the latest developments at EU level, register on the EU virtual network on age-friendly environments set up by AGE (link available on AGE homepage).
In its European policy for health - Health 2020, WHO European Regional Office outlines its vision, values, main directions and approaches, and proposes to work on six goals:
- Work together: Harness the joint strength of the Member States and the Regional Office to further promote health and well-being, tackle the social determinants of health and health inequities, and reach out to other sectors and partners to reinforce this effort.
- Create better health: Further increase the number of years in which people live in health, improve the quality of life of people living with chronic disease, reduce inequities in health and deal with the impact of demographic change.
- Improve governance for health: Leverage the momentous societal changes in favour of health in all policies and strengthen health as a driver of change for sustainable development and well-being, by ensuring that heads of government, parliamentarians and key actors and decision-makers across the whole of government and in all sectors are aware of their responsibility for health and well-being and for health promotion, protection and security.
- Set common strategic goals: Support the development of policies and strategies in countries that benefit health and wellbeing as a joint social objective, at the appropriate level, providing stakeholders and partners with mechanisms for engagement and a clear map of the way forward in tackling the social determinants of health and health inequities.
- Accelerate knowledge-sharing and innovation: Increase the knowledge base for developing health policy and addressing the social determinants of health, by enhancing the capacity of health and other professionals to adapt to the new approach to public health and the demands of person-centred health care in an ageing and multicultural society, and by making full use of the technological and managerial innovations available to increase impact and improve care.
- Increase participation: Empower the people of the European Region to be active participants in shaping health policy through civil society organizations, to respond to the health challenges facing them as individuals by increasing health literacy and to ensure their voice is heard in person-centred health systems.