Secretary-General's Message for the International Day of Older Persons (1 October 2015)

On the 25th anniversary of the International Day of Older Persons, we recognize that older persons are an enormous asset to society and make a significant contribution to global development.

On September 25 at United Nations Headquarters in New York, Heads of State and governments committed themselves to building a sustainable world where no one, regardless of their age or gender, is left behind. In implementing the newly adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we must account for the demographic changes of the next 15 years. These will have a direct bearing on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Rapid population ageing and urbanization will increasingly shape our societies. The number of people aged 60 years and above living in cities is projected to grow to more than 900 million by 2050. This will comprise a quarter of the total urban population in developing countries.

The theme of this year’s International Day of Older Persons -- “Sustainability and age inclusiveness in the urban environment” -- highlights the need to make cities inclusive for people of all ages. The United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) to be held in Quito in October 2016 offers an opportunity to advance this effort.

Making cities inclusive of older persons means generating opportunities for their economic and social participation in accessible and safe environments. It also means providing affordable housing as well as the health and social services needed to support ageing in place.

On this International Day of Older Persons, I call on Governments to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable so that no one - of any age - is left behind.