In February 2014, AGE Platform Europe and 28 partners launched the European Thematic Network on Innovation for Age-Friendly Environments (AFE-INNOVNET) to help find solutions to Europe’s demographic challenge.
Europe is ageing
Eurostat foresees that the number of people 60+ in the European Union (EU) will increase by about two million persons per annum in the coming decades and the 80+ will increase threefold to reach 12 percent of the population in 2060. At the same time fewer young people will be available to provide informal and formal support and care. Today’s challenge is to find sustainable solutions to help older people age in better health and remain independent for longer.
Many solutions supporting active and healthy ageing have been developed as pilots across the EU, but they remain isolated and do not get scaled up, not even in their own country. This means that their impact on addressing Europe demographic challenge is limited. Except in a very few countries that have a national programme on ageing, the various governance levels that need to work together to support age-friendly environments do not coordinate their action and there is no structure at EU level to coordinate local/regional/national actors willing to support AFE.
AFE-INNOVNET: what is it about?
Our work on age-friendly environments started five years ago when AGE signed an agreement with the World Health Organisation Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities (WHO GNAFCC) in which we committed to promote the concept of age-friendly environments across the European Union. We share WHO views that the physical and social environments are key determinants of whether people can remain healthy, independent and autonomous long into their old age.
The overarching goal of AFE INNOVNET is to support the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing through the setting up of a large EU wide community of local and regional authorities and other relevant stakeholders (Universities/Research Centres, Industries/SMEs, Civil Society Organisations) across the EU who want to work together to find smart and innovative evidence based solutions to support active and healthy ageing and develop age-friendly environments across the EU.
The AFE-INNOVNET consortium and partners are:
- developing methodologies to help local and regional authorities assess the socioeconomic impact of their initiatives linked to age-friendly environments;
- developing guidance tools to better involve older people in these initiatives;
- look at best ways to include local businesses in the development and implementation of such initiatives;
- setting up a Europe-wide database of good practices of innovative ICT and services solutions; and
- preparing the launch an EU Covenant on Demographic Change to create the necessary political and technical framework to bring together in a more formal and long-term local and regional authorities and other stakeholders working on age-friendly environments.
Such work is carried out in close cooperation with WHO-Europe to ensure coherence and convergence with WHO programmes on age-friendly environments.
The objective of the AFE-INNOVNET thematic network is to become the affiliate programme for the European Union of the WHO Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities.
By enabling local and regional authorities, as well as other stakeholders, to link up and join forces, AFE-INNOVNET is setting up the necessary framework to mobilize and support a wide uptake of smart and innovative solutions for age-friendly environments solutions which have demonstrated a positive socio-economic impact. It will help local and regional authorities to respond to Europe’s demographic challenge by stimulating investment and facilitating the deployment of innovative ICT and social solutions to help older people age in better health and remain active for longer. Eventually, it will help lowering the pressure on social and healthcare systems and fostering longer working lives. This wide mobilization should also help develop an EU wide single market for silver economy products and services.
Composition of AFE INNOVNET consortium
The project’s consortium is composed of 29 partners coming from 16 EU countries and includes 13 cities and 6 regions. The project is led by a Steering Group composed of AGE Platform Europe (coordinator of the project), CEMR (Council of European Municipalities and Regions), TNO (Dutch Research Centre), Polibienestar Research Institute – University of Valencia, PAU Education and the Louth County Council (Ireland).
How to get involved?
The thematic network is open to new partners. Interested? Please visit: http://afeinnovnet.eu/about/Why-join-us. This is free and open to both EU and non EU stakeholders (public authorities, NGOs, research centers, corporate actors).
If you wish to be kept informed, you can also subscribe to the newsletter and follow us on Twitter (@AFEINNOVNET) and LinkedIn.
AFE-INNOVNET is funded under the European Programme CIP ICT PSP, Grant Agreement n°620978
For more information, visit the AFE-INNOVNET website: http://www.afeinnovnet.eu/
about the author
Anne-Sophie Parent has more than 20 years experience in dealing with policy and project development at EU level. She sits on various advisory committees: European Pensions Forum, e-Health Stakeholders Group, European Health Policy Forum, Advisory Board of the Assisted Ambient Living Programme, Societal Advisory Group of the Joint Programme on More years – better Lives, Dialogue Group on Insurance, Financial Services Users’ Group, Steering Group of the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing, European Central Bank Euro Retail Payment Board).