The OECD Public Governance and Territorial Development Directorate has launched a project on Sustainable Urban Development Policies in Ageing Societies (2013-14) to explore urban sustainability in ageing societies. The Secretariat invites cities to participate in case studies to share their experiences as leading models to address the challenges faced by ageing societies.
Ageing is a global phenomenon with great implications for sustainable urban development. Because of the combined effect of increased life expectancy and low fertility rates, as well as past baby booms, the elderly population in OECD countries grew more than 1.5 times faster than the total population between 1995 and 2008. The ratio of elderly population (above 65 years of age) to the working-age population (15-64 years) is currently around 20% in the EU, may increase to 45-55% by 2050.
This ageing trend is more or less universal across the OECD countries; however, cities follow different patterns regarding the speed and magnitude of ageing, leading to distinct impacts on cities (Figure 1). The local circumstances of cities, including urban land use, economic activities, and cultural and historical characteristics, also amplify the difference in impacts. According to the UN demographic forecast, the ageing trend will change most significantly over the next 40-50 years, followed by a relatively stable “aged” population structure (Figure 2). Urgent efforts are needed to consider the short and long-term ageing trends, as well as the impact on local characteristics.
Cities are the driving forces of sustainable development. They play a critical role in responding to challenges and making the best use ofopportunities in ageing societies. Ageing and urbanisation are coinciding phenomena. UN statistics indicate that in developed countries, 80% of older people live in urban areas. The planning and design of infrastructure can have a big impact on people’s quality of life. Recent OECD reports, including the Urban Policy Review of Poland (2011) and Compact City Policies: A Comparative Assessment (2012), identify ageing as a significant element for urban policies.
Figure 1. An ageing society: evolution and forecast of the elderly population (1950-2100)
Source: OECD Metropolitan Database
(Click on thumbnail to view large image)
Figure 2. Demography change by cities
Source: UN Population Ageing and Development, 2012
The objective of this project is to explore the roles of cities, including how cities could mitigate ageing challenges and make the best use of the opportunities to become sustainable for all generations. It assesses three policy questions:
In addition, the project will propose recommendations for practical policy tools, governance structure, financial methods and indicators that are ready to be used by city governments.
This project is comprised of three study elements:
(1) Analytical framework study will analyse the short and long term impacts of ageing societies from economic, environmental(urban living environment) and social perspectives, discuss challenges and opportunities for sustainable urban development in ageing societies. This part of the project will be implemented by literature research and discussion with experts group.
(2) The Secretariat will conduct 5-6 case studies at city level to collect detailed information on policy framework, policy tools (regulations, tax incentives, reward programmes...) and policy impacts of each case study city. Comparatively assessment among case study cities will be followed. Each case study will be summarized into approximately 10 pages in the final report. Information on each city will be collected by written questionnaires and through research mission by the OECD Secretariat.
(3) Policy recommendation for cities will be proposed, including policy strategies, practical policy tools, policy actors, governance structure, finance and indicators based on studies of (1) and (2), and by literature research and discussion with experts group.
The preliminary study by the OECD Secretariat tentatively proposed five policy action areas and three strategies for further discussion.
The final outcome of this project is a written report of approximately 150 pages, published by the OECD. Workshops or seminars will be organised during the working process of the project to discuss the project. Several occasions of launching events to communicate the findings of the project will be scheduled before/after the publication.
Cities in all sizes (population, GDP...) and in any economic, environmental and social backgrounds are able to participate in this project. Criteria of case study cities are as follow;
Approximately 5-6 cities are welcomed to join in as case study cities through consultation between each city and the OECD Secretariat. Geographical and economic diversity of cities will be considered. The OECD Secretariat will also contact OECD national delegations for their recommendation. Financial contribution by case study cities will be allocated for actual expense of the research. Case study cities have to respond to written questionnaires, accept research missions and discuss draft of final report.
Please contact Setsuko SAYA, Head of Regional Policies for Sustainable Development, Directorate for Public Governance and Territorial Development, for further information: firstname.lastname@example.org.