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The number of older persons is growing faster than any other age group, says a new report, 'Ageing in the Twenty-first Century: A Celebration and a Challenge', released on October 1st, International Day of Older Persons by UNFPA and HelpAge International. According to this report, the population of over-60-year-olds is expected to reach one billion within the decade.

This new report presents new figures on one of the most important demographic trends of this century.

Rapidly and surely the world is getting older. In 2000, for the first time in history, there were more people over age 60 than children below age 5. The number and proportion of older persons is growing faster than any other age group, and will surpass 1 billion people in less the 10 years.

The new report underlines that, while the trend of ageing societies is a cause for celebration, it also presents huge challenges as it requires completely new approaches to health care, retirement, living arrangements and inter-generational relations.  This will help countries to harness the potential benefits and minimize the disruption that ageing will bring. Ageing is now occurring fastest in the developing world, which has limited resources and plans to deal with this unprecedented demographic trend.

Speaking at the report's launch in Tokyo, UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, said: "People everywhere must age with dignity and security, enjoying life through the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms."

"Longer life expectancy," he added, "was a goal of the Cairo International Conference on Population Development in 1994. More action needs to be taken to achieve this for all people; new poverty goals must not exclude older people."

Ageing in the Twenty-first Century: A Celebration and a Challenge is available on: