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SARAJEVO, 1 October 2017 – This year, the member states of the United Nations mark 15 years since the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing was adopted at the Second World Assembly on Ageing. Having in mind rapid global demographic changes based on improved living conditions and increased average human life, the Plan of Action has been a one-of-a-kind agenda for handling the issue of ageing in the 21st-century. Also, it has been a unique solution as the Governments for the first time agreed to link questions of ageing to other frameworks for social and economic development and human rights. The focus of the Plan of Action has been on three priority areas: older persons and development; advancing health and well-being into old age; and ensuring enabling and supportive environments.

Based on the Madrid Plan of Action, entity governments in Bosnia and Herzegovina have developed own strategies on ageing in the process supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and the Swiss Cooperation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Both entity strategies plan to improve the living conditions of older persons through improved social and health protection, improved access to public services, especially in rural areas, promoting activism and volunteerism in local communities including inter-generational support and cooperation, promoting life-long learning, and preventing violence, abuse and neglect against older persons.

The draft strategies will soon be presented by the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and Republika Srpska Ministry of Health and Social Protection to the entity governments. Also, the success of development of such comprehensive policy responses to the individual and societal needs of ageing population has been celebrated at the 2017 Ministerial Conference on Ageing in Lisbon where the representatives of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees and representatives of civil society presented the progress our country has made in this regard.

As Dr. Doina Bologa, UNFPA Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina stated: “Although the development of entities’ social strategies on ageing has occurred in an environment of economic stagnation, pressures on social spending and rising migration notable achievements have been reached in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We all need to persevere in addressing the needs of older persons, especially in light of statistical projections that the number of older persons in the country will double from current 15% by mid-century. The governments need to find a way to diminish the pressure that demographic changes put on health and social systems in the country and they need to provide support to all people at old age in order to achieve the commitments of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development aiming to transform the world in which we live today”.

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, raises awareness about demographic shifts towards older populations and about the need to harness the opportunities and address the challenges of population ageing. UNFPA also supports research and data collection to provide a solid base for policies and planning, and makes sure ageing issues are integrated into national development programmes and poverty reduction strategies.

As we step towards the better future we all want, ‘leaving no one behind’ will mean making space for the contributions of older persons.