The New Urban Agenda (NUA), includes numerous references to the role, position and agency of older persons in society. It identifies older persons as a group requiring specific attention in urban planning and development, including consultation about preferences and needs in the evolving built environment. The WHO has long recognized these facts, and the WHO Global Network for Age-friendly Cities and Communities (AFCs), developed over the last decade, includes over 500 communities in 37 countries.
The NUA emphasizes participatory planning and implementation processes, in which older people can engage as definers and agents of change. Elements of the NUA can also help to address major challenges to older persons’ quality of life and wellbeing.
Some intersections between the NUA and Age-Friendly Cities (AFC) initiatives are apparent, but the mutually beneficial and reinforcing elements will become clearer as the NUA is manifested in national and sub-national settings. Some of the work that is underway to make cities age-friendly will be portable to other vulnerable groups. Progress along one set of priorities can advance progress on the other agendas. Tools like implementation guides, surveys, or indicators from one will be portable to the next, raising the possibility of better apportioning scarce resources.
This symposium will establish the potential of an integrated view of the NUA and AFC. A related theme is the relevance of the NUA and AFCs as tools to achieve the key promise of Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), that ‘no one is left behind’. Exploring and identifying links among these three agendas can energize activities that advance all three.
The Moderator will sketch the linkages. Expert panelists will outline the NUA, and the implementation of the AFCs initiative in Canada, and other experts, representing different parts of the world, will speak about local activities that reflect the common objectives and benefits for older people of the NUA and AFCs. These will be local, practical examples of planning and implementation of initiatives that cross artificial boundaries and have a positive impact on the shared environment, and on older persons’ quality of life.
The panel will be interactive, with time allotted for symposium attendees to share views, spurring thinking for connections and further work. The symposium will focus on public shared spaces, including parks, streets, and multi-activity spaces, be they private/commercial or public, as these are elemental to the NUA, and to AFCs, and to SDG #11.
Katherine Kline, Older Persons and the New Urban Agenda
The New Urban Agenda, adopted by 193 countries after the October 2016 Habitat III Conference in Quito, Ecuador, has more than 27 significant paragraphs supporting the view of older urban residents as active members of their communities and as deserving support to be able to make their own decisions over key elements of their lives.
It calls for the adoption of “sustainable, people-oriented age-and gender-responsive and integrated approaches to urban and territorial development and recognizes the need “to give particular attention to addressing multiple forms of discrimination faced by (…) older persons” and promotes “age-and gender-related planning and investment for sustainable safe and accessible urban mobility”.
Most important, it “promotes participatory age-and gender-responsive approaches at all stages of the urban and territorial policy and planning process, from conceptualization to design, budgeting, implementation, evaluation, and review, rooted in new forms of direct partnership between governments at all levels and civil society, including through broad-based and well-resourced permanent mechanisms and platforms for cooperation and consultation open to all, using information and communications technologies and accessible data solutions”.
Kathie Paddock, Senior Policy Analyst, Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)
Within the context of the Age-Friendly Communities (AFC) approach, PHAC will provide an overview of implementation in Canadian communities. A broad range of efforts are underway at a national level to further promote uptake of the AFC model through policy leadership, knowledge exchange and practical tools to support community efforts.
Canada is an Affiliate member of the World Health Organization’s Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities, and has worked to align the steps to successful AFC implementation at a local level with the membership requirements of the Network. PHAC pro-actively engages the Pan-Canadian AFC Reference Group to help advance AFC in Canada, including the generation of guides and toolkits for implementation and evaluation, as well as various knowledge exchange opportunities to share best practice and lessons learned.
Leveraging the participatory approach and ten years of experience of Age-Friendly Communities to design the physical and social environment can only serve to strengthen efforts and commitments under the New Urban Agenda.
Bonnie Schroeder, Age Friendly Ottawa Program Director, Council on Aging of Ottawa
Under the leadership of the Council on Aging of Ottawa, the Age Friendly Ottawa program involves a close collaboration between municipal government and the community with a common goal of improving physical, social and service environments for older persons and other groups sharing similar needs.
To make shared public spaces more accessible and inclusive, the Council on Aging has led the development of an age-friendly pedestrian audit tool in partnership with the City of Ottawa and other community partners representing persons with disabilities and urban ecology.
The audit tool has been used by intergenerational teams in three neighbourhoods to identify needed improvements to sidewalks and shared pathways which have since been made by the City. With municipal participation, the Council also prepared the age-friendly city evaluation framework which includes spatial indicators that matter for older persons and other groups, such as neighbourhood walkability and accessibility of public transit.
These tools are useful to monitor progress in making urban spaces more accessible and in mobilizing joint action to identify issues needing action
Silvia Gascon, Isalud University, Buenos Aires
In La Plata, Argentina, the Isalud University has partnered with Red Mayor de La Plata (notably, both are NGOs). La Plata was one of the initial 32 Age-friendly cities. Red Mayor brings together older adult volunteers who focus on specific rights and interests of older persons, and who have been able to advance age-friendly spaces within the city with a strategic approach that inserts older persons’ views and interests into the evolution of the built environment.
In this example, these two NGOs advocated, developed, and became responsible for the implementation of an age-friendly city plan. The challenge has been to find a place in the agenda of the municipal government While in La Plata, the municipal government has not engaged with the plan, there are other examples, in Mendoza province, where the Isalud University is working across the boundaries of the national, provincial and local governments to create age-friendly public spaces.
To ensure that the Symposium includes as many perspectives as possible, organizers have arranged for two speakers, one from Cape Town, South Africa and one from Nairobi who are implementing projects that demonstrate potential AFCC – NUA links to add their experiences.