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The first BRICS Meeting on Ageing was held in Beijing on December 6, 2017, co-organized by the China National Committee on Ageing (CNCA), the Renmin University of China (RUC) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) China office, under the guidance from the Secretariat of the China Working Commission on Ageing (CNWCA). With the theme of building consensus for concerted responses, the meeting was the first international conference on ageing among the BRICS countries.

The world is ageing rapidly, and the pace of population ageing is progressing faster in developing countries, including the BRICS. Population ageing has profound social and economic implications for all countries going through the process. In terms of economic contributions, the BRICS countries accounted for almost half of the growth rate of the world’s economy since 2006. In terms of population ageing, BRICS countries are home to 42% of people above 60 in 2016, and the number is projected to be growing to 45% in 2050. Population ageing is affecting the BRICS countries in different ways as they are at the different stages of ageing.

Mr. Wang Jianjun, the Standing Deputy Director of the Secretariat of the CNWCA, and the President of CNCA pointed out the BRICS are facing double pressure from economic development and coping with population ageing. Their experiences to address the challenges and capitalize the opportunities are not only important to the national economic and social development and the wellbeing of people, but will also have far-reaching impact on the global economy and responses to ageing beyond the BRICS. The convening of the BRICS Meeting 2017 marked the emergence of a new platform and mechanism for international exchanges on ageing.

Dr. Babatunde Ahonsi, the Representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) emphasized that as the most rapidly growing economies in the world, the BRICS countries have great potentials for setting good examples where older persons are supported and empowered to contribute and benefit equally from national development processes through multi-sectoral, proactive and integrated policy responses. “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development presents a unique opportunity for countries, including BRICS, to ensure equitable ageing within national development contexts and plans, as it upholds the principle of leaving no one behind,” said Dr. Ahonsi at the meeting.

Prof. Du Peng, the Vice President of the RUC, pointed out that as a co-organizer of the meeting, RUC always takes actions to respond to current development needs. In order to foster collaboration on ageing among the BRICS, RUC will utilize its multidisciplinary advantages across the fields of demography, gerontology, sociology, economics, statistics and law, to explore options leading to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The meeting agreed that population ageing is a laudable achievement and is a celebration of immense social and economic progress, and does not have to be a problem. Most countries could tackle the concerns of shrinking working age population-labor shortage-slowdown economic growth through greater efforts to actively and productively engage people in working ages that are not actively and productively engaged. Women for example face different barriers that reduce their labor force participation. Nowadays, it is more than ever the productivity of people who are in working ages rather than their sheer number that determines economic growth. Effective responses to population ageing would require changes from a fundamentally negative, reactive and fragmented approach to an approach that is positive, pro-active and integrated

Policy makers and top experts reviewed current trends and challenges BRICS countries face in the area of ageing, with extensive sharing of experiences from countries in response to ageing, The roles of population policies from both global and country level perspectives were discussed thoroughly. Over 100 representatives from Brazil, Russia, China, South Africa and other countries participated in the meeting. China, as the host country of the BRICS Summit 2017 and the First BRICS Meeting on Ageing, presented its progress in policy responses to ageing as a priority in the development agenda of China

The meeting in the end endorsed an outcome document, which encourages the BRICS to develop a more sustained, long-term collaboration on population ageing and fertility decline and proposes continuing and concerted efforts among the BRICS countries and beyond in the areas of research and analysis, policy dialogue and partnerships.