What do we understand by age-friendly environments?
According to the WHO, making cities and communities age-friendly is one of the most effective local policy approaches to respond to demographic ageing. The physical and social environments are key determinants of whether people can remain healthy, independent and autonomous long into their old age. Older persons play a crucial role in their communities - they engage in paid or volunteering work, transmit experience and knowledge, and help their families with caring responsibilities. These contributions can only be ensured if they enjoy good health and if societies address their needs. See here for further information:
What is the synergy with the WHO programme on age-friendly environments?
The Covenant closely collaborates with the WHO, in particular the Europe Region Office, based in Copenhagen, since the purpose is to use the WHO age-friendly environments framework into the EU context.
Cities which become Full members of the Covenant have the right to automatically join the WHO Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities.
Why do we need a Covenant on Demographic Change?
Many innovative solutions supporting active and healthy ageing have been developed as pilots across the European Union (EU), but they often remain isolated and do not get scaled up, not even in their own country. This means that their impact on addressing challenges of demographic change in Europe is limited.
A key barrier is the lack of an EU structure to network and coordinate local and regional authorities and other stakeholders willing to support ageing well and inclusion of older people through the deployment of innovative age-friendly environments and support to pilot projects.
Local or even national authorities do not have the capacity on their own to initiate an EU-wide movement to adapt their living and working environments to the needs of their ageing populations. This can only be done with EU support.
There is at present no open EU network which enables local and regional authorities and other stakeholders interested in promoting and supporting innovative solutions for age-friendly environments to join, link up, benefit from each other’s experience and work together on shaping the EU agenda on active and healthy ageing.
Who can join?
The Covenant is open to all interested parties (i.e. local, regional and national authorities, as well as civil society organisations, industries, research centres and universities) that voluntarily commit to making age-friendly environments a reality in their communities and to share their experience with other Covenant members.
The Covenant aims at gathering all European local and regional authorities and other relevant stakeholders across the EU who want to work together to find innovative solutions to support active and healthy ageing and develop age-friendly environments across the EU.
All members of the Covenant are given opportunities to exchange good practices and case studies, access information on innovative ICT solutions, receive a monthly newsletter, attend webinars and workshops, contribute and benefit from methodologies for impact assessment and indicators’ definition, contribute to and use the online repository of notable practices and disseminate their relevant activities and events.
How can my organisation/public authority contribute?
All members of the Covenant are invited to contribute to the development of the Covenant. The objective is to ensure that the Covenant’s activities are relevant to local and regional authorities, and that they offer opportunities to local and regional authorities to link up with successful business offer(s) in various EU regions.
What will be the link with the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing?
When the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing (EIP AHA) was launched end 2010, AGE made a strong call to ensure that this initiative would not adopt a narrow perspective and made sure that it did not only look at “care and cure” for older people, but would also use the work done by the WHO to demonstrate that the overall environment, both physical and social, are crucial for older people to age in good health. Among the six action groups that were launched, one is dedicated to “Innovation for age-friendly buildings, cities and environments” (action group D4). The Covenant supports the D4 action group and the synergies will be facilitated since some of the Covenant’s founding members are involved in the D4 Action group.
How can interested parties apply to join the Covenant?
They can join through an easy online application procedure, no formal paper signature will be needed. It will be up to each public authority to decide, in accordance with their internal rules, how they need to proceed to join the Covenant and who should be involved on their behalf.
Are there grants linked to it?
No, the Covenant is not a funding programme and cannot provide financial support. The Secretariat will, however, provide information about EU funding opportunities and will help Covenant members develop partnerships to submit project proposals to EU calls for projects.
Is there a fee to join?
In its recently adopted report on the outcome of the EY2012 on Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations, the European Parliament is calling on the European Commission to find sustainable funding to cover the core activities of the Covenant. Other funding options, including potential membership fees, will have to be explored with the Founding members. Meanwhile, the Covenant will function thanks to in-kind contributions of its Founding members. It will work mainly virtually and will seize opportunities such as the Committee of the Regions’ Open Days or other events organised by the European Commission or national stakeholders to organise back-to-back events for Covenant members.