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IDB President addresses Second World Assembly on Ageing in Madrid

The Inter-American Development Bank is a participant in the United Nations Second World Assembly on ageing, being held in Madrid, Spain, with the goal of assisting governments, civil society and the private sector in Latin America and the Caribbean in formulating realistic, concrete operative proposals to improve living conditions for older persons in the region.

In Latin America there are some 44 million persons aged 60 and above, and many of them can not satisfy basic needs of diet, clothing, health and physical security.

Development has resulted in longer life spans and an aging population, yet it also offers an opportunity for successful ageing, said IDB President Enrique V. Iglesias in a roundtable presentation on Development in an Ageing World: Implications of the Ageing Process for Development Strategies and the Eradication of Poverty.

There is a great opportunity for a new culture for ageing, establishing new rules, demands and development possibilities, with a population that is better educated, healthier, more productive and mature, Iglesias added. He spoke of the ethical challenge of a society with more opportunities for all generations, as a principle of justice, not charity.

We need a new model of development that allows social and productive inclusion and that recognizes the contributions of the mature population. This model is one of solidarity. It is family-based, strongly preventive, and sensitive to the needs of women, who are dominant in the older population in poverty and play a central family role until the last days of their lives, he added.

Investments for development must also recognize the contribution of longevity to economic growth because of its impact on productivity and the stimulus to a greater demand for goods and services, Iglesias said.

The IDB is committed to support countries seeking ways to improve economic security and to guarantee the basic needs of the neediest older adults through strengthening social security systems and specific measures, the IDB president concluded.

Seminar on economic security

On April 9 a seminar-workshop will be held on "Economic Security of the Ageing Population in Latin America and the Caribbean: From the Assembly to Action." The encounter, coordinated by the IDB and the Spanish Coordinating Committee of the Second World Assembly, will gather international experts, ministers, representatives of civil society and the private sector from countries of the region. The session is open to the press and will take place in Sala B of Zona Sur of the Complejo Ferial de Madrid IFEMA.

The seminar-workshop will be inaugurated at 8:30 a.m. by officials of the Organizing Committee of the Second World Assembly on Ageing, the IDB, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the Institute of Migrations and Social Services of Spain, the Ibero-American Organization for Social Security and HelpAge International.

José Miguel Guzmán of ECLAC and Tomás Engler of theIDB will give a diagnostic synthesis of the situation of older adults in Latin America and the Caribbean; Sonia Cuentas, coordinator of the Centro Sociolegal para Adultos Mayores of Red HelpAge in Bolivia, will offer a proposal for immediate and medium-term action to improve the economic security of older adults of the region.

The proposal will be debated in plenary sessions, and experts from four subregional groups will analyze the subject from the perspectives of Mexico, Central America, and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean; English-speaking Caribbean; the Andean Countries; and the Southern Cone of South America. A panel of representatives from technical and financial cooperation agencies will offer an international vision, and the Secretary of State for Social Assistance for Brazil, Wanda Engel, will moderate the final debate that will establish steps for future action.

The seminar-workshop is co-sponsored by the IDB, ECLAC, HelpAge International, the Ibero-American Organization for Social Security, the Red Iberoamericana de Asociaciones de Adultos Mayores, the Red Intergubernamental Iberoamericana de Cooperación Técnica; Red Tiempos; and the Secretaría de Cooperación Iberoamericana.

Other IDB initiatives

The IDB recently approved its first program dedicated exclusively to addresing the needs of the poorest of the older adults in Latin America and to improving their quality of life.

A $750,000 grant from the Japan Special Fund, which is administered by the IDB, will strengthen organizations of older adults that benefit the elderly in Argentina, Chile, Peru and Uruguay and improve the capability of a regional network and seven national networks to support these organizations. The resources will finance leadership courses for 2,380 elderly persons and strengthen more than 3,000 organizations that benefit the elderly.

In recent years the IDB has financed studies to identify demographic and social trends, such as the needs and demands of older adults, the availability of services for that sector, criteria to define and assign policy priorities for services and resources, and strategic opportunities to provide assistance in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay.

In June of 2000 in Washington, D.C., the IDB held the first international conference to review the condition of older adults and to identify strategies to support the low-income elderly population in Latin America and the Caribbean. More than 100 experts attended the event, which was sponsored by the governments of Finland and Sweden; the Instituto de Comercio Exterior of Spain; the Japan Program; the Pan American Health Organization; the International Federation of Aging; HelpAge International; and the IDB.

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