Global Age-friendly Cities: A Guide

Book cover

Publication details

Publication date: 2007
ISBN: 978 92 4 154730 7



An age-friendly city encourages active ageing by optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age.

In practical terms, an age-friendly city adapts its structures and services to be accessible to and inclusive of older people with varying needs and capacities.

To understand the characteristics of an age-friendly city, it is essential to go to the source – older city dwellers. By working with groups in 33 cities in all WHO regions, WHO has asked older people in focus groups to describe the advantages and barriers they experience in eight areas of city living. In most cities, the reports from older people were complemented by evidence from focus groups of caregivers and service providers in the public, voluntary and private sectors. The results from the focus groups led to the development of a set of age-friendly city checklists.

  • Part 1 describes the converging trends of rapid growth of the population over 60 years of age and of urbanization, and outlines the challenge facing cities.
  • Part 2 presents the “active ageing” concept as a model to guide the development of age-friendly cities.
  • Part 3 summarizes the research process that led to identifying the core features of an age-friendly city.
  • Part 4 describes how the Guide should be used by individuals and groups to stimulate action in their own cities.
  • Parts 5–12 highlight the issues and concerns voiced by older people and those who serve older people in each of eight areas of urban living: outdoor spaces and buildings; transportation; housing; social participation; respect and social inclusion; civic participation and employment; communication and information; and community support and health services. In each part, the description of the findings concludes with a checklist of core age-friendly city features obtained by analysing the reports from all cities.
  • Part 13 integrates the findings within the WHO active ageing perspective and highlights strong connections between the age-friendly city topics. These reveal the principal traits of the “ideal” age-friendly city and show how changing one aspect of the city can have positive effects on the lives of older people in other areas. Seized by the promise of more age-friendly communities, WHO collaborators are now undertaking initiatives to translate the research into local action, to expand the scope beyond cities, and to spread it to more communities. An age-friendly community movement is growing for which this Guide is the starting point.