Fostering intergenerational solidarity and cooperation through age-friendly environments: the right answer to Europe’s demographic challenge

GenerationsAGE Platform Europe, the Confederation of Family Organisa-tions in the European Union (COFACE), Eurochild, the European Women’s Lobby and the European Youth Forum unite to celebrate the European Day of Solidarity between Generations and raise awareness of the need to address Europe’s demographic challenge by adapting the way our societies function to enhance intergenerational links in the context of an ageing Europe. They remind of the key role each generation plays – and should be empowered to play – to ensure a sustainable future for all of us in Europe, whatever one’s age.

Enhanced solidarity between the different age groups can help combat age stigmatisation and achieve the EU’s goal of promoting active and healthy ageing as a response to Europe’s demographic challenge. It could also help address other societal challenges, such as gender equality, work-life balance, youth unemployment, rising care needs, etc.

Promoting intergenerational solidarity means more than bringing together children and older people on occasional circumstances, it is about creating supportive economic and social environments which naturally foster exchange and cooperation across generations in our everyday lives and value the contribution of all age groups in society. This means rethinking our economic and social policies so as to mainstream intergenerational solidarity and cooperation in all areas of our lives and ultimately create age-friendly environments that make it possible for citizens of all ages to take part in society, contribute and support each other. 

“Longer life expectancy is an achievement we can only be proud of if age is no longer a barrier to one’s inclusion and participation in social and economic lives. Creating age-friendly environments that break down this barrier and make it natural for people of all ages to meet and support each other is, according to AGE members, a prerequisite to ensure the sustainability of our European societies, states AGE Platform Europe Secretary-General, Anne-Sophie Parent.

“The social impacts of the economic crisis can be mitigated by investing in intergenerational solidarity and learning. For a stronger Europe in the future, the various generations – young and old – need the opportunity to learn from each other and with each other. Not only will this help them to develop skills but also actively contribute to a truly age-friendly Europe”, highlights Jana Hainsworth, Secretary General of Eurochild.

Johanna Nyman, President of the European Youth Forum, further comments “We are delighted to mark the EU Day of solidarity between generations. Recent times have been tough for young people, but other age groups have suffered too and it is only through working together that we can improve the lives of everyone, no matter what their age, in Europe. Each generation can learn from, as well as teach, others and so taking opportunities to create solidarity between generations and tackling the ‘us versus them’ rhetoric is vital!”

“Solidarity between generations is necessary to creating a new vision for the future and providing sustainable solutions to the current social, economic and demographic crisis”, adds Joanna Maycock, Secretary General of the European Women’s Lobby“A gender-equal and sustainable model for society, in which equal sharing of economic resources across generations and equal caring for each other, are fundamental principles. Strengthening and listening to women’s voices across the generations is crucial to this process.”

Family remains the main source of intergenerational solidarity. Family policies providing for resources, time and services should be implemented in EU Member States. Leaving family carers to provide all the care for dependent elderly people undermines the social inclusion, health and gender equality of these families”, states COFACEPresident Annemie Drieskens

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