Capacity Building to Establish a National Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities in Japan

The WHO’s vision of an Age-friendly City or Community is a place that fosters healthy and active ageing. A key platform which will support actions to achieve this objective is the WHO Global Network for Age-friendly Cities and Communities, established in 2010. It currently includes 533 cities and communities in 37 countries, covering over 158 million people worldwide (as of 21 November, 2017). Cities and communities join the Global Network with a commitment to becoming more age-friendly and to share their experience, achievements and lessons learnt with others.

Japan has the oldest population in the world. Yet, until very recently, only two municipalities in Japan had joined the Global Network – Akita City in 2011 and Takarazuka City in 2016. Growing awareness and interest among local governments in Japan has seen that number grow, with the addition of 19 towns and cities from Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, to the Global Network in October 2017. Good practices and insights from Japan would make a valuable contribution to all members of the Global Network. In turn, local governments in Japan could benefit from connecting to the Global Network and tapping into its wealth of knowledge, experiences and resources, as well as gain global recognition for their efforts.

On 4-5 December, 2017, the WHO Kobe Centre will organize a 1.5-day, invitation-only workshop on Age-friendly Cities and Communities. Officials from nine local governments will attend. The emphasis will be on developing the capacity of prefectural governments to support municipal governments’ participation in the Global Network and to lead the establishment of a National Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities.

The workshop will consist of presentations by WHO staff, who will give an overview of the i) WHO Global Strategy and Action Plan on Ageing and Health, ii) Age-friendly Cities and Communities initiative, and iii) Global Network. Guest speakers representing the city governments of Akita and Takarazuka will share their experiences as members of the Global Network, and the prefectural government of Kanagawa will talk about its recent activities as an affiliate of the Global Network and how it supports its municipalities to participate in the Global Network.