Creating age-friendly cities and communities

Credit: Seniors Housing Online
Creating age-friendly cities and communities
Written by: Ron Reed

The World Health Organisation is on a mission to create age-friendly urban environments, assessing the age-friendliness of cities and communities and integrating an ageing perspective into urban planning. The world’s population is becoming more urbanised and older – it is estimated that 60% will live in cities by 2030, and the proportion of people aged over 60 will double to 22% by 2050.

The WHO Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities (the Network) was established to foster the exchange of experience and mutual learning between cities and communities worldwide, to encourage the development of physical and social environments which are conducive to citizens remaining healthy and independent and continuing to make a positive contribution to their community long into their old age.  WHO recognises that older people play a vital and productive role in society through work (both paid and unpaid), transferring their experience and knowledge, and caring for others.

Set up in 2006, the Network started with 33 cities in 22 countries getting together to create The Global Age Friendly Cities Guide.  The Guide identifies aspects of city life which influence the health and quality of life for older citizens:

•    Buildings and outside spaces
•    Transport
•    Housing
•    Social participation
•    Respect and Social Inclusion
•    Civic participation and employment
•    Communication and information
•    Community support and health services

Any city or community committed to creating inclusive and accessible urban environments to benefit their ageing populations is encouraged to participate in the program, which offers an assessment framework as well as technical support and training as they undertake a 5 year planning, implementation and evaluation program. One important requirement is that older people must be actively engaged in the process, which involves continual assessment and improvement.

An application form together with the letter from the local Mayor and civic administration is required to join the program.

The first international conference on ‘Age-Friendly Cities’ took place in Dublin in September 2011, organised by the World Health Organisation’s Age Friendly Cities Network, in conjunction with the International Federation on Ageing (IFA) and Ireland’s Ageing Well Network.  A Declaration on Age Friendly Cities (the Dublin Declaration) was signed by the representatives of 38 cities at the conference.

Links to more information about the program:

WHO Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities.

Global Age Friendly Cities - A Guide.


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