Dear Members and Friends of the European Federation of Older Persons!
To begin with, I hope that you – and your whole family – could enjoy some happy, quiet and relaxing days at the end of the year 2017 and that you then had a joyful and optimistic start into 2018. May it be for you a year with many moments of happiness, small and big successes in all your undertakings and, in particular, with solid health.
The year 2017 has been another very effective one for EURAG. Our multiple activities have attracted new members and strengthened our internal “family” as well as our external relationships and the recognition by our partners.
In early May 2017 we had our General Council meeting in Darlówo/Poland together with a very interesting topical conference on the issue of the general importance and the individual value of tourism of older persons. At this occasion we had the great pleasure to enjoy – at the shores of the Baltic Sea – great hospitality of our Polish partners.
Together with our General Assembly in Vienna/Austria, at the end of September – where the Board of EURAG has been re-elected for another 3 years – and during a fascinating topical conference right at the beginning October 2017, we were able to happily celebrate the 55th anniversary of EURAG, the oldest transnational civil society organisation on ageing issues. At this occasion, which took place in the beautiful Town Hall of the City of Vienna, we could welcome many high-ranked guests and listen to beautiful music performances. In addition, we had a joint event with the “UN Vienna NGO Committee on Ageing ”to celebrate the United Nations’ “International Day on Ageing”.
During the year 2017, EURAG actively valued its membership in the “Platform of European Social NGOs” and in the “Age Platform Europe”. It also continued to assume with great commitment the responsibilities of co-presidency in the “UN Vienna NGO Committee on Ageing”, where we substantially advanced work on concepts for the improvement of the recognition and the living conditions of older persons in European society.
Of particular importance has been the role of EURAG’s president in the “Working Group on Ageing” of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, where he represented for the 10th year the NGOs – in consultative status with the United Nations – that are dealing with ageing issues. In this responsibility he was not only heavily engaged in the preparation of the high ranked 4th UNECE Ministerial Conference on Ageing in Lisbon in September 2017 – with the attendance of the 56 member states of the UNECE – but also chaired the Preparatory Committee of the NGO Civil Society Forum connected with this Ministerial Conference on Ageing.
Once more, the “Memory Training” project of EURAG, performed by the Secretary General, has been very successful in 2017. Sessions with great recognition by partners have not only taken place in Europe but also in countries beyond and thus strongly contributed to the high international appreciation of our organisation.
For the year 2018 we have again multiple and ambitious plans which need full commitment of our membership and also the support of the friends of our network.
Our next General Council meetings will be in Copenhagen/Denmark at the beginning of May 2018 and in Reykjavík/Iceland in the second half of September 2018. Both meetings are again combined with topical conferences that will highlight and promote exchange on the present situation and the still significant needs of older persons in our society. In particular we shall go on developing recommendations to decision makers on how to elaborate and implement the necessary and adequate policies and strategies. Without doubt we shall once more benefit from generous support by public authorities that recognise the value of our activities.
We also will further develop our plans of a documentation on how and by which actors ageing policies and good practice have been developed for the benefit of older persons – and for society at large – over the last half century and which role EURAG and its members have played in such developments.
In order to further expand our network in various European countries and to strengthen our ties with representative national civil society organisations dealing with ageing issues, Board members shall visit partners in various countries – to start with in the Russian Federation in April this year. In this context the “Memory Training” project of EURAG is again playing a significant role.
The president of EURAG will go on – together with his colleagues from the Board and other dedicated members – representing our organisation in other civil society structures we are engaged in as well as at relevant conferences. Just to mention the next opportunity as an example: In the framework of the 56th session of the Commission for Social Development of the United Nations in New York, at the end of January 2018, the EURAG president will speak on an international panel on “Responses to old-age poverty” and the important role of civil society in addressing this unacceptable risk.
To finish with and once more, I wish you personally, as well as your families and friends, an excellent New Year and look forward to the great pleasure of meeting you again, of communicating with you and of advancing together with you the issues that are important for the living situation of older persons and for society at large.
Receive my warm regards – et bien amicalement à vous.
Kronberg, 08 January 2018 Dirk Jarré, President of EURAG