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UNECE Policy Seminar on Ageing

18 November 2020
Palais des Nations Geneva Switzerland


Older persons in emergency situations: lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic


The COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on the increased vulnerability of older persons in emergency situations, and uncovered shortcomings in disaster preparedness and response strategies to the pandemic globally. The Policy Seminar will provide an opportunity for members of the Working Group on Ageing to reflect on the first lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic as regards safeguarding the human rights of older persons in emergency situations, in particular access to essential goods and health and long-term care services, sensitivity to their needs and preferences and ensuring that mental well-being and dignity of older persons are safeguarded.

While numerous measures to protect older persons have been implemented across the UNECE Region,  these have sometimes exacerbated social isolation or cut off older persons from needed support and services. While the pandemic has highlighted the vulnerability of older persons to severe developments of the disease and risk of death and led to significant displays of inter-generational support and solidarity, the UNECE region has at the same time witnessed cases of ageism, and worrying accounts of human rights violations affecting older persons, particularly so with regard to access to health care and long-term care services.

Models of long-term care vary greatly depending on the setting within which they operate: residential facilities, daycare instutitions, or community- and home-based settings. Ensuring that disaster risk management strategies, and critically, recovery measures, are inclusive of older persons represents an important challenge—one that requires an explicit understanding of how long-term care services are delivered and received across these unique settings.

The focus of this policy seminar centers on ageism, and long-term care in different settings within the context of COVID-19. In 2017, UNECE Member States adopted the Lisbon Ministerial Declaration, which priotises a commitment to ensuring ageing with dignity by, inter alia, ”raising quality standards for integrated social and long-term care and health services” as well as ensuring that ”no law, policy or programme leaves room for discrimination of any kind”. This policy seminar is designed to offer a platform for in-depth discussion of important lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic thus far within the UNECE region, and to facilitate the exchange of experiences and ideas with a view toward ”building back better”.

Target Group   

The policy seminar is designed for national focal points on ageing attending the annual meeting of the Working Group on Ageing as well as experts on long-term care systems and services, civil society representatives and other stakeholders.



The Policy seminar will be organized on 18 November 2020 in the form of a webinar of two sessions (morning, afternoon) each of 2.5 hours.

Registration link: