Feature of the Month

EuroHealthNet joined the AFE-INNOVNET Thematic Network on innovation for age-friendly environments

The  AFE-INNOVNET  Thematic  Network  on  innovation  for  age-friendly environments  is  very  pleased  to  launch  the  Covenant  on  Demographic  Change. The  Covenant  is  set  to  become  the  new  EU-wide  association  gathering  local, regional  and  national  authorities,  civil  society  organisations,  universities,  and businesses that commit to cooperate and implement evidence-based solutions to support  active  and  healthy  ageing  as  a  comprehensive  answer  to  Europe’s demographic challenge.

Europe  is  rapidly  ageing.  People  aged  65+  represented  17.4%  of  the  population  in  2010 and  this  is  set  to  reach  30%  in  2060.  Therefore,  today’s  urgency  is  to  find  sustainable solutions to empower people to live healthily, actively and independently for longer, in order to lower the pressure put on family carers and on public health and long-term care budgets, as well as to enhance quality of life and well-being in later age.

We think that the best approach to ageing is the promotion of age-friendly communities where public space, transport, housing and local services are conceived with the needs of all  generations  in  mind, fostering also solidarity and cooperation between generations”, underlined Markku Markkula, President of the Committee of the Regions.

Public  authorities,  as  main  providers  of  services  and  responsible  for  territorial  planning, are  playing  a  key  role  here.  This  is  why,  with  the  support  of  the  Committee  of  the Regions,  the  European  Commission  and  in  close  cooperation  with  the  World  Health Organisation,  more  than  150  subnational  authorities,  research  centres  and  civil  society organisations have gathered today to launch the Covenant on Demographic Change.

The  Covenant  on  Demographic  Change,  legally  established  as  an  international  non-profit association under the Belgian law, is open to all interested parties (i.e. local, regional and national authorities, as well as civil society organisations, industries, research centres and universities) that voluntarily commit to making age-friendly environments a reality in their communities and to share their experience with other Covenant members.

The  Covenant  “harnesses  the  expertise  and  experience  of  stakeholders  at  local,  regional and  national  levels,  along  with  that  of  European  policymakers.  This  collective  knowledge will help tackle the challenges of an ageing society”, commented Commissioner Marianne Thyssen in her introductory speech. “By formalising and structuring discussions with local and regional actors, it will give both the technical framework and the political impetus to create age-friendly environments”, she continued.

By  joining  the  Covenant, European  local  and  regional  authorities  will  position  themselves at  the  forefront  in  addressing  population  ageing.  They  will  benefit  from  a  wide  range  of opportunities for mutual learning and partnership, various tools to implement and assess
the  impact  of  their  age-friendly  initiatives,  and  will  lead  the  way  to  help  Europe  become age-friendly.

The idea of such a Covenant was born during the European Year 2012 on Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations. After several years of hard work, we are very happy to  launch  it today at  the  Committee  of the Regions”,  said  Anne-Sophie Parent,  Secretary General  of  AGE  Platform  European  and  AFE-INNOVNET  Coordinator.  “We  are  even  more pleased to see that already 70 organisations, including 43 cities and regions, have already decided to join. This is a great step to make population ageing an opportunity for Europe and finally recognise seniors as an asset and not as a burden”, she added.

After  two  years  of  hard  work  within  the  AFE-INNOVNET  Thematic  Network,  we  want  to maintain and expand our position on rehabilitation of our elder citizens, to keep  physically active and self-reliant – enabling to “Life Long Living”, said Mayor Jacob Bjerregaard, from the Fredericia Municipality in Denmark.  “By joining the Covenant, Fredericia gets a unique opportunity  to  stay  ahead  of  the  challenges  and  opportunities  linked  to  demographic change”, he concluded.

  • For  more  information,  please  contact  Julia  Wadoux,  AFE-INNOVNET  Coordinator or Linden Farrer, EuroHealthNet Policy & Research Senior Co-ordinator

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How to join the Convenant?

  • Towards an Age-Friendly Europe: Launch of the EU Covenant on Demographic Change - Spanish versiobn here
  • Towards an Age-Friendly Europe: Launch of the EU Covenant on Demographic Change - Italian version here

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How to join the Convenant?


Annex: Public  authorities  and  organisations  having expressed  their  willingness  to  join  the  Covenant  on Demographic Change

Local and regional authorities
Agia Varvara municipality (Greece), CCAS de la Ville de Marseille (France), Fredericia municipality  (Denmark),  25  Irish  Age-Friendly  Cities  and  Counties  (Ireland),  City  of Leuven  (Belgium),  Local  Association  of  Attica  Municipalities  (Greece),  City  of Manchester  (UK),  City  of  Stockholm  (Sweden),  City  of  Tampere  (Finland),  Nacka municipality  (Sweden),  City  of  Ljubljana  (Slovenia),  Réseau  Francophone  des  Villes Amies  des  Aînés,  City  of  Arnsberg  (Germany),  City  of  Naples  –  Campania  Reference Site  (Italy),  DCRN  (EU),  ELISAN  network  (EU),  ENSA  network  (EU),  City  of  Udine (Italy),  Celje  municipality  (Slovenia),  Veneto  Region  (Italy),  Government  of  Biscay (Spain), City of Salerno (Italy).

Civil society organisations and foundations
AGE Platform Europe (EU),  Age Cymru (UK),  Caritas Coimbra (Portugal),  SIVI cluster (Spain),  Solimai  Soc.Coop.ar.l.  (Italy),  From  Generation  to  Generation  (UK),  Polish Institute  of  Silver  Economy  (Poland),  RBS  Center  fir  Altersfroen  (Luxembourg), International  Council  on  Social  Welfare  (EU),  Agentschap  Toegankelijk  Vlaanderen (Belgium),  Association  HIPOKAMP  (Poland),  EuroHealthNet  (EU),  European  Union Geriatric Medicine Society (EU).

Universities and research centres Polibienestar  Research  Institute 

University  of  Valencia  (Spain),  University  of Edinburgh  (UK),  Universitat  Politècnica  de  Catalunya  (Spain),  INRCA  (Italy),  Dublin City  University  (Ireland),  LifeTechValley,  boosting  healthy  aging  (Belgium),  Tallinn University  of  Technology  (Estonia),  IRS  –  Istituto  Ricerca  Sociale  (Italy),  FORTH  –Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas (Greece).

Norske  Helsehus  AS  (Norway),  ESCOOL  (Spain),  Acvfit  (France),  ENGIE  Belgium (Belgium), 40+Lab (Portugal).

Join the Covenant here

The project is funded under the ICT Policy Support Programme (ICT PSP) grant agreement n°620978

Health literacy in the older population – central to improving health and the sustainability of health systems

In the framework of the 3rd European Health Literacy Conference held in Brussels on 17th-19th November 2015, Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands received the IROHLA evidence-based guidelines to improve health literacy in the older population. The IROHLA pre-conference saw representatives of the European Commission, health services and elected politicians discuss the importance of health literacy for sustainable health systems. It also saw the inauguration of Health Literacy Centre Europe, which aims to act as a central portal of information and exchange of knowledge and experience beyond the lifetime of the project.

Funded by the European Union’s 7th Framework Programme, the three-year IROHLA project sought-out solutions to address the low levels of health literacy observed in most European member states. Health literacy is the degree to which an individual has the capacity to obtain, communicate, process and understand basic health-related information and services to make appropriate health decisions. People with low levels of health literacy have poorer health outcomes, and improving health literacy requires improvements in people’s competencies, knowledge, skills and attitudes towards health. Health literacy also applies to healthcare systems and their responsiveness to people with low health literacy – ensuring that medicines, care and services are easy to understand and navigatable. The project therefore took a comprehensive approach, explaining how to increase health literacy in health systems, and for patients and citizens who can have markedly different needs.

Throughout the panel sessions moderated by EuroHealthNet, links were made between low levels of adult education and health literacy and people living in disadvantaged situations. Graham Kramer, (National Clinical Lead for Self Management and Health Literacy, Scottish Government) argued that “addressing health literacy is an issue of human rights and health inequalities. In Scotland it is particularly important to phrase health literacy in these terms – it helps get it onto the political agenda”. This implies the need for a health-in-all-policies approach. Indeed, as noted by Gina Ebner (Secretary General, European Association of Education for Adults), “roughly 20 per cent of the European population cannot understand medicine instructions, meaning that adult education and health providers need to work together because both are trying to achieve something similar”.

Closing the conference, Jaap Koot (IROHLA Project Co-ordinator) stated that “the launch of the evidence-based IROHLA guidelines is really the start of the process of improving health literacy in Europe. We hope that policy makers and healthcare professionals build upon and use the guidelines to inform their daily practice, as increasing health literacy would mean better population health and more sustainable health systems”.


IROHLA - “Intervention Research on Health Literacy among ageing population” is a European project under the FP7 programme that aims at formulating guidelines for policy and practice based on best interventions for improving health literacy levels among older people. The project is coordinated by the University Medical Centre Groningen (the Netherlands). It incorporates 20 consortium partners from 10 European countries from science, public health, civil society and business communities, amongst them the Brussels based organisations EuroHealthNet and AGE Platform Europe.

The policy guidelines for health organisations, the policy guidelines for governments, a brochure of lessons and interviews with project partners produced by EuroHealthNet, and photos and presentations will be made available shortly from the IROHLA website.

25th International Day of Older Persons: Sustainability and Age Inclusiveness in the Urban Environment

The 2015 celebration of the 25th anniversary of International Day of Older Persons (IDOP), in anticipation of the third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) to be held in 2016, will focus not only on the impact of the new urban environment on older persons, but also the impact of older persons on the new urban environment.

Already, the move of people worldwide to cities is happening at a record pace, with 6 out of every 10 people in the world expected to reside in urban areas by 2030. Consistent with the phenomenon of urbanization, the number of older persons is increasing most rapidly in urban areas of developing countries. The combined effect of both phenomena means that the number of people over 60 living in cities may grow to over 900 million by 2050 – making up a quarter of the total urban population in developing countries .  

In principle, these trends offer older persons prospects for improving their quality of life. Well planned cities are more likely to provide income generating and education opportunities, in addition to housing and urban environments that are more accessible and safe for older persons, including the incorporation of age-friendly features in public facilities. This includes access to affordable, reliable, safe and physically accessible transportation, which is one of the cornerstones of older persons’ participation, independence and social inclusion.

The 2015 IDOP celebration seeks to demonstrate that an age inclusive agenda is crucial for sustainable urban environments to promote equity, welfare and shared prosperity for all.

For more information, click here

July 2015-Film 'Researching Age-Friendly Cities'

The University of Manchester elaborated a film 'Researching Age-Friendly Cities' funded by the School of Social Sciences

The film aims to explain the research and field work on age-friendly communities, this is well done with interesting testimonies.

Please do not hesitate to watch and to share!

The film is available below


June 2015: Nicoline Tamsma chairs the AFE-INNOVNET workshop "Promotion of Healthy Ageing: Built environment and technology"

Nicoline Tamsma, EuroHealthNet's President, chaired the workshop organised in the framework of the project AFE-INNOVNET.

Participants of this workshop reflected on the following questions during the discussions:

  • In order to adopt a transversal and integrated approach, do municipalities/regions work with other city council thematic departments to guarantee concrete results and if so, how? (e.g. social, urban planning, transport, environment)
  • What synergies could be envisaged between the presented cases and the municipalities/regions?
  • What conditions would help municipalities/regions implement effective age-friendly initiatives related to the built environment? What kind of additional support would be needed from the EU, national, regional levels? E.g. more exchange of good practices, more research,more joint projects, more peer reviews, less regulations in certain fields, etc.
  • Have municipalities/regions already implemented actions promoting healthy ageing through the built environment and technology? Are there any positive results? If yes, which ones? Are there any negative results?

AFE-INNOVNET is a project funded under the ICT Policy Support Programme (ICT PSP), grant agreement n° 620978. For more informtion, click here

Conference 'Innovative Financing Opportunities for Active & Healthy Ageing'

The European Commission - DG SANTE -  is organising the Conference 'Innovative Financing Opportunities for Active & Healthy Ageing' on the 3rd June 2015. The Conference will look at the issue of how to practically leverage public and private financial instruments and maximise synergies in the area of active & healthy ageing. In particular, the Conference will focus on the EU financial instruments, the Investment plan for Europe, joint-procurement of innovative solutions, new ways of public-private co-investments in health, European Structural and Investment Funds, social innovation and more recent innovative alternative financing tools.

The Conference programme is organised around two morning plenary sessions and three afternoon parallel sessions.

  • The opening plenary session will be introduced by Martin Seychell, Deputy Director General for Health of DG SANTE, followed by two keynotes on the Investment Plan for Europe and on regions engaging with innovative financing and with the Investment Plan. A second plenary session will follow on public private partnerships, innovative procurement and lessons from other sectors. 
  • In the afternoon, three sessions will run in parallel on the topics of "Synergies in Structural Funds - Mobilising Opportunities for Active & Healthy Ageing", "What's the alternative? – Complementarities in access to finance", and "Ready to invest in large scale Active & Healthy Ageing deployments? - Feedback from Investors".

For more information, click here.

April 2015 - International Seminar “Building an evidence base for active ageing policies: Active Ageing Index and its potential”

The United Nations Economic Commission and Europe (UNECE) and the European Commission’s Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (DG EMPL) are organising and International Seminar called “Building an evidence base for active ageing policies: Active Ageing Index (AAI) and its potential” on 16-17 April 2015 in Brussels. The seminar will target on studies that focus on how to achieve better outcomes through appropriate policies, including the ones that address life course determinants of active and healthy ageing. Outcomes can be measured by indicators such as the AAI.

Researchers, civil society representatives, policy makers and other stakeholders are invited to participate in the two day seminar. A multidisciplinary forum will be provided for those interested in the use of AAI and other research to enhance knowledge about older people and ageing and to lead to the development of better policies.

More information about the seminar is available here.

March 2015 - EU Falls Festival

The first European Falls Festival takes place in Stuttgart, Germany, on 24-25 March 2015 and makes "Technology in the prediction, detection and prevention of falls" the subject of the conference. Leading academics, researchers, health care practitioners, clinicians, industry representatives and key stakeholders from across the globe are invited to discuss and celebrate best practice research and innovation in the multidisciplinary study and implementation of falls prevention in older people. While speeches and debates will be held on the issue of falling and how ICT solutions can solve those problems, workshops will show the technical progress that has been made during projects. This includes how to detect the risk of falls earlier, how to monitor older people's health and what to learn from the found data. Some of those projects, such as WIISEL and FARSEEING can also be found in the Healty Ageing Good Practice Section of this website.

To find out more about the conference, click here.

February 2015 - First European Summit on Innovation for Active and Healthy Ageing

The first European Summit on Innovation for Active and Healthy Ageing will be held on 9-10 March 2015. Two day high-level Summit and exhibition organised by the European Commission to discuss how demographic change can offer new opportunities for innovation, growth and jobs. The event will bring together EU representatives across several portfolios, business leaders, national and regional authorities, leading global innovators and media. The Summit will also have a dedicated exhibition area to showcase the achievements of the EIP on AHA and other related research and innovation projects.

  • Health literacy, patient empowerment, ethics and adherence programmes, using innovative tools and services
  • Personalised health management (starting with Falls Prevention Initiative)
  • Prevention and early diagnosis of functional decline, both physical and cognitive, in older people
  • Protocols, education and training programmes for health workforce and carers (e.g. comprehensive case management, multimorbidity, polypharmacy, frailty and remote monitoring)
  • Multimorbidity and R&D
  • Capacity building and replicability of successful integrated care systems based on innovative tools and services
  • Assisted daily living for older people with cognitive impairment
  • Extending active and independent living through open and personalised solutions
  • Innovation improving social inclusion of older people
  • Regulatory and standardisation conditions
  • Effective funding
  • Evidence base, reference examples, repository for age-friendly innovation
  • Marketplace to facilitate cooperation among stakeholders

For more information, click here

January 2015 - EuroHealthNet organises a policy dialogue on health literacy among the ageing population

Hosted by Austrian MEP Heinz Becker (EPP) and organised by the IROHLA project, the event includes a round of presentations about the IROHLA project, the importance of health literacy, the work on healthy ageing in general and also an update on what the European Commission is doing on these topics.

We have discussions with Members of the European Parliament, policy advisers and decision makers as well as other important stakeholders in order to figure out what gaps there are that need to be closed and how policy guidelines can be developed and implemented so that older populations' health literacy needs can be met in the best way possible.

This policy dialogue is a closed event, on invitation only. The results are published afterwards in the IROHLA newsletter and also on the website.

For more information please contact Karolina Noworyta.