1 October - International Day of Older Persons On International Day of Older Persons UN Secretary-General Adverts our Attention to the Challenges and Opportunities of Ageing. 1 October - International Day of Older Persons On International Day of Older Persons UN Secretary-General Adverts our Attention to the Challenges and Opportunities of Ageing. 1 October - International Day of Older Persons

The theme of this year's International Day of Older Persons focuses our attention on the challenges and opportunities of ageing.

Population ageing brings significant economic and social challenges, for developed and developing countries alike. Sobering statistics show that some 80 per cent of the world's population are not covered by social protection in old age. Finding ways to provide economic support for a growing number of older persons, through sustainable pension programmes and new social protection measures, is a daunting task, particularly in developing countries.

Yet at the other side of the equation, we have one of the great achievements of our time -- considerably extended life expectancies in nearly all parts of the world, thanks to improved standards of health care. Older persons now have many more opportunities to keep contributing to society beyond any set retirement age. Our views on what it means to be old are changing all the time. Where older persons were sometimes seen as a burden on society, they are now increasingly recognized as an asset that can and should be tapped.

The role of older persons in economic and social development is a major feature of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, as is promoting democracy and the rights of older persons through their participation in all aspects of society. This year, we mark the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the Madrid Plan, and the launch of its first review and appraisal. Crucially, this will be based on an inclusive and participatory approach, engaging older persons themselves in the process.

This International Day of Older Persons is an opportunity to stimulate discussion among all stakeholders on progress in implementing the Madrid Plan, in line with the Millennium Development Goals and the broader UN development agenda. I urge you all -- Member States, NGOs, the UN system, older persons and their organizations -- to seize this opportunity, today and in the months ahead. Together, taking a balanced approach to both the challenges and opportunities of ageing, we will be able to give life to our shared vision of a society for all ages.

For additional information on ageing please check World Economic and Social Survey 2007: Development in an Ageing World

The 2007 Survey analyses the implications of population ageing for social and economic development around the world, while recognizing that it offers both challenges and opportunities. Among the most pressing issues is that arising from the prospect of a smaller labour force having to support an increasingly larger older population. Paralleling increased longevity are the changes in intergenerational relationships that may affect the provision of care and income security for older persons, particularly in developing countries where family transfers play a major role. At the same time, it is also necessary for societies to fully recognize and better harness the productive and social contributions that older persons can make but are in many instances prevented from making.