From October 17 to 19, world leading aging experts, representatives of Chinese corporations and Chinese ministries gathered at the Global Summit on Population Aging in Shanghai. The main goal of the conference – co-hosted by Columbia University and Fudan University – was to analyze the characteristics, challenges and opportunities of China’s fast aging population in the context of international experience and to share new knowledge and best practice among scientists, policy makers and industry.
Ursula Staudinger held the keynote address “A Society of Longer Lives: Opportunities and Challenges” and moderated the breakout sessions on “Active Engagement, Cognition & Health“ and „Environmental Impacts on Ageing and Health“. In her speech she emphasized that one of the main challenges for aging societies was to maintain productivity. While scientific research on aging strongly suggested that cognitive performance could be improved even in old age, businesses might want to focus more on optimizing the productivity of their employees across the work life, she said. And failing to do so would mean missing a strategic opportunity for future growth.
In many industrialized nations, we experience unprecedented longevity that has expanded lifespans by more than three decades over the last 100 years. However, instead of honoring this achievement and seizing the opportunities that come with it, many countries around the world struggle to take the necessary measures for this new demographic reality. The experts present at the conference pointed out that – with the right prospective planning – the creation of a previously unimagined sustainable “Third Demographic Dividend” that capitalizes on the social capital of older adults and leads to stronger and wealthier societies is possible.
Currently a Shanghai Declaration on Healthy Aging is being developed and will be published in The Lancet.