The new framework for post-2015 is now in its final stages of deliberations but we must be careful of pushing sectional interests above holistic approaches unless there is evidence that requires it.
In response of the MDG failure to address groups of society it is tempting to push for the explicit inclusion of all groups and minorities, but I believe that this would be a mistake.
If we aim to take a life course approach we need to be vigilant that in our keenness to delineate different moments in a personal life we don't loose a joined up and more fluid understanding of ageing. A more nuanced view of age is required in the latest framework, which is due to span 2016-2030, because older generations will be the largest they have ever been in history and young people will be a majority of the world population.
Just over two years ago I attend the regional consultations on MIPAA (Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing), which is the counterpart to the WPAY (World Programme of Action for Youth). I was there in my former role at the European Youth Forum and I was struck and the similarities on issues and approaches that we shared with each other.
On reflection this should not be a surprise, both are victims of age discrimination. Holding places on either ends of societies age norms they are often deprived access to basic services and also ignored as political actors.
Issues such as housing, health, work were all areas where there were areas of common interest. The issues went deeper into the role that both these groups play politically in society.
Recently I have been campaigning for parliament in the UK; again the commonalities show up not only as service users but also in participation. Asking to go and talk to teenagers is schools or in a university accommodation is near impossible. Similarly we are prevented from entering residential facilities by gatekeepers who claim to know the interests of the elderly. This “protection from politics” is something that has never been shared with me by a young or older person themselves.
Therefore in the post-2015 agenda we should be seeking to draw out the common issues whilst respecting the differences where they do exist. The paper that Sylvia Beales (Help Age International) and I, coedited last year entitled ""Leave no one behind": A discussion paper on option for integrating youth and older people into the post-2015 framework" (1) addressed many of these approaches and tried to navigate a course which would enable a balanced view of ageing in the post-2015 agenda whilst seeking to unite different people at the respective ends of the age spectrum.
The paper outlined a few options and their consequences. The initial scenario, has to some extent been taking up by the Secretary Generals Synthesis Report and in the preamble to the Open Working Groups outcome on Sustainable Development Gaols. They both put forward ageing in meta-text and narrative form. The problems with this on it own is, firstly, as has become commonplace within international development agreements to include nice lofty words which hold no legal bases. These introductions and preambles act as a sup to the NGOs who think that their issue has been include whilst allowing governments to ignore any reference to the preamble.
The call for disaggregated data according to age, and a prohibition that no group can be left behind could help solve this but we need more clarity what this means and the age points adopted. I have suggested (2) intervals of 5 years until 15 years and then intervals of 10 years until 95 years, but this is still far from clear.
We also need to recognise that there are some specific areas that are only for one age, universal pensions or secondary education focus on a particular age group. In the paper presented last year we acknowledge that in some areas data sets are still to be developed but current data is required to hit the ground running in, we can’t have a lost 5 years as happened with the MDGs.
We therefore suggested a set of targets and indicators that are already available as a starting point. These indicators derived from already available datasets clustered around 4 common themes that are:
- Income and Employment
- Health and Wellbeing
- Education and Life Long Learning
- An Enabling Environment and Participation.
Finally a truly intergrated framework must take into account MIPAA and WPAY within the Development Framework. Both of which are currently missing in the deliberations. Post-2015 is meant to draw together and re-focus the work of the UN, governments, international agencies and other actors for the next 15 years, and build on the successful work of other development agreements. Both WPAY and MIPAA have some indicators and action plans developed and this good work must not be lost.
Any of these suggestions on their own will not fulfil a life course approach, but together they start to tackle the requirement to both be general and specific in regards to the challenges that different age groups face in the future development agenda.
(1) An Updated version of the paper can be downloaded form http://www.helpage.org/download/54945fe30e5f1, the original paper is available at http://childrenyouth.org/2014/02/07/discussion-paper-on-youth-and-older-people/
(2) Suggested age groups: 0-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-25, 25-35, 36-45, 46-55, 56-65, 66-75, 76-85, 86-95, over 95
About the author
Lloyd Russell-Moyle has worked as a youth work in the UK and internationally. He was on the board of the federation of youth organisations in Europe, the European Youth Forum between 2011-2014, latterly as their Vice Chair and currently reads International Law at the University of Sussex, UK. He is acting as the Deputy Organising Partner of the UN Major Group of Children and Youth, which is the space for children and young people in sustainable development negotiations, and is chairperson of their finance and legal body “Children and Youth International”. www.childrenyouth.org