ESPON brought together eight cities and city-regions to investigate how to become more age-friendly places for older people

The European population is ageing rapidly, and this is particularly evident in the cities. The eight stakeholders involved in the ESPON targeted analysis ACPA, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Gothenburg, Hengelo, Greater Manchester, Nantes, Oslo and Zaragoza, all have increasing shares of older people. Consequently, these cities need to adapt their policies to better meet the needs of older residents.

Source: Eurostat. Ecorys and Nordregio elaboration for ESPON ACPA

This ESPON activity, kicked-off in January, is investigating how different European cities are dealing with challenges concerning population ageing. During the second steering committee meeting, researchers introduced to the stakeholders an update of the methodological framework and examples of maps and figures showing demographic development and indicators of population ageing.

Among the first observations that emerged in the literature review, researchers mentioned the following:

  • many older people want to stay in their homes when they age, and there are several initiatives promoting “ageing in place” by facilitating access to services and strengthening social support;
  • there are success factors in developing age-friendly cities such as better urban planning with integration of green spaces (important meeting points for older people); development of age-friendly transport opportunities; platform to encourage participation through social activities, such as the app Vincles launched by Barcelona aimed at connecting older population with their relatives.
  • policies that sustain good environments and accessible and integrated health infrastructure are central; improving health equity among older adults is crucial.
  • most older people prefer to live in communities where they meet people from different ages; studies show that well-being of seniors increases when the proportion of older adults living in the vicinity decreases.

The research team, which includes Ecorys Nederland as lead contractor and Nordregio, Ecorys UK, Ecorys España, will deliver the interim report in May 2019. Researchers aim to achieve broad consensus and validation by interviewing city stakeholders, interest groups as well as older people themselves. In this targeted analysis, the research team is looking at the eight WHO domains that cities can address to better adapt their structures and services to the needs of older people (the built environment, transport, housing, social participation, respect and social inclusion, civic participation and employment, communication, and community support and health services).

As part of the deliveries, researchers will carry out in-depth case studies in the stakeholder cities and will draft a guide with good practices and policy recommendations that can enable transferability of the study outcomes to other cities.

Stakeholders will meet again in June to discuss the further implementation of the activity and to validate the case studies. Institutions representing the European level, such as the EC, EIP, Urban Agenda as well as WHO will be invited to attend as observers.

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