The European Union has designated 2012 as the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations (EY2012). EY2012 will be officially launched at a high-level EU conference which will take place next week (18-19 January 2012) in Copenhagen (Denmark). At the event, the Stakeholders’ Coalition for the European Year 2012 will present its roadmap, which gathers its joint commitments to achieve the overall goal of creating an Age-Friendly European Union by 2020.
Why has the EU designated 2012 as the "European Year for Active Ageing"? Two major issues have prompted this decision: a demographic change (from 2012, the European working-age population will start to shrink, while the over-60 population will continue to increase by about two million people a year) and a context of economic crisis. Due to these factors, the Coalition believes that “the Year is a unique opportunity to encourage national and EU policy makers, together with all relevant players, to consider innovative solutions to address the impact of the crisis on our ageing societies. [...] Now is also the time to make long-lasting commitments to create an Age-Friendly European Union that empowers people to age in good health and to actively contribute to society in a way that is fair and sustainable for all generations.” (Manifesto for an Age-Friendly European Union by 2020).
The Coalition has set 4 objectives for EY2012
- Promote active ageing in employment
- Facilitate active ageing in the community
- Promote healthy ageing and independent living
- Enhance solidarity between the generations
Which stakeholders can support active ageing?
In addition to EU policy makers, national, regional and local authorities, employers and trade unions, the business sector, civil society organisations, researchers, etc. can adopt innovative solutions in the field of: employment, social protection, family policies, education and training, health and social services, as well as housing, transport, leisure, and public infrastructures.
Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) offer new opportunities for all players in society, but even more so for the elderly and disabled, since the use of such technologies allows them to carry out daily tasks and activities independently. However, whenever ICT do not go hand in hand with the concept of accessibility, they represent a genuine barrier, leading to a situation of exclusion. Whenever they have suitable and accessible technology equipment, the elderly and people with special needs discover in ICT a truly revolutionary tool: the key that allows them to improve their quality of life by having access to education, work, leisure or political and social life. This is why ICT represent a key sector for promoting an active ageing population.
Tefefónica wants to encourage the participation of older people in society, give value to their experience through volunteering, integrate people with disabilities, offer products and services tailored to their needs and position the elderly and disabled people as valid players in our society. In order to achieve this, Telefónica is working on numerous initiatives from social innovation for these groups such as giving value to the experience of our elders through volunteering, rewarding organizations for managing diversity in a sustainable manner through “Ability Awards”, facilitating the deployment of new health care services at home through mobility and remote care services developed by the “e-health” area at Telefónica and integrating people with disabilities in the labor market through ATAM. In addition, Telefónica has reached an agreement with AGMT, the Association of the elders group of Telefónica, to identify new business opportunities in the elderly world. Only in Spain, old people are almost 8 million people.
For all these reasons, Telefónica welcomes the European Year 2012 for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations and will continue its support toward active ageing in 2012.