Friendly Cities is a project of the World Health Organization (WHO) that promotes the adaptation of cities and towns to the needs of the elderly. This initiative, which focuses on the opinion of older people for the analysis of problems as well as proposals for improvement, seeks to get cities to commit to be more friendly to older people, taking advantage of the potential they represent for society. An age-friendly city encourages active ageing by optimizing opportunities for health, participation and safety to promote the well-being of people as they age.
This Global Network provides a platform for its members to exchange best practices, information and mutual support, as well as offering guidance and knowledge-building on how to assess how age-friendly a city or community is; integrating an age-friendly perspective into urban planning and how to create age-friendly and meaningful environments for older people.
Recreating a city that encourages citizen interaction to be a source of creativity and innovation in the socioeconomic, cultural and political spheres is a challenge. It is necessary to think of meeting and exchange spaces where coexistence and integration of all inhabitants and social groups is encouraged.
To encourage cities and communities to adapt to the needs of the aging population, the WHO created the Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities (GNFACC). And with the support of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Americas region has become the fastest growing area of this network.
While national governments are largely responsible for creating policies and strategies for healthy and active aging, lasting change requires a commitment from all levels of government. An age-friendly world must be built community by community, city by city, region by region. The vision of the Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities is that every city and community strives to become increasingly age-friendly.
Creating age-friendly environments requires a life-cycle process that progressively improves the match between people’s needs and the environment in which they live. To achieve this requires a coordinated response among multiple stakeholders, sectors and levels of government involved. An age-friendly city or community is a place where people want to grow old.
Age-friendly cities and communities foster active and healthy aging, enabling older people to: age in a safe and secure way; where they do not experience poverty; continue to grow and develop personally; and contribute to their communities, while retaining their autonomy and dignity.
Because older people know what they need better than anyone else, they should be at the center of any local government effort to create a more age-friendly community. The mission of the Age-Friendly Cities and Communities Network is to encourage and enable cities and communities around the world to become increasingly age-friendly.
The Network seeks to do this through the following actions:
- Inspiring change by showing what can be done and how it can be done.
- Connecting cities and communities around the world to facilitate the exchange of information, knowledge and experience.
- Supporting cities and communities to find appropriate innovative and evidence-based solutions.
Currently, the network is made up of around 800 cities, with Spain being the country with the most age-friendly cities. In Mexico, San Agustín de Tlaxiaca, Hidalgo (joined the network in 2014), Guadalajara (since 2016) and Mérida (joined in 2021) belong to this Network.
In Mexico currently
Since 2019, the processes for Merida to become a member of the network of friendly cities for the elderly began, efforts that materialized at the end of 2021 with the presentation of the Strategic Plan for the Elderly of the Municipality of Merida, which reflects the actions to provide more opportunities for the elderly to enjoy a better quality of life and enjoyable spaces with the attention they deserve. A year later, at the beginning of 2022, the Municipal Council for the Elderly was established, made up of various agencies and institutions that join in this effort to carry out the actions set forth in the document.
Merida is positioned as one more of the Mexican cities that seek to be friendly with the elderly and put their rights at the center of their actions, initiating the process to promote a better social culture towards the elderly, something that will surely benefit the entire population and give us a more inclusive city. We have the opportunity to be a reference in the south of the country so that we continue to be identified as one of the best cities to live in.