Building Forward Better - United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia


Building Forward Better


Country: Arab region

Publication Type: Policy briefs

Cluster: Gender Justice, Population and Inclusive Development

Focus Area: Population dynamics & migration

Initiatives: Older persons

SDGs: Goal 1: No Poverty, Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being, Goal 5: Gender Equality, Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, Goal 4: Quality Education, Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities, Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals, Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Keywords: Ageing, Care of ageing persons, Arab countries, Disability, Health, Pensions, Population, Population dynamics, Population trends, Social development, Social protection, Basic education

Building Forward Better

June 2022

Most Arab countries will have an ageing population or will have become aged in the next 30 years. This statement would have been unimaginable a few decades ago when the region was witnessing a massive population boom. While the number of older persons, aged 65 and above, in the Arab region increased by 16 million in the last fifty years, it is projected to increase by over 50 million in the next thirty years, reaching 71.5 million by 2050. Population ageing carries profound economic and social implications.

The present report focuses on the care ecosystem for older persons as an entry point to address older persons’ priorities and ensure that all people can age with dignity in the region. The care ecosystem is comprised of two distinct yet closely related elements: social protection and long-term care (LTC). This report sheds light on the status quo in the Arab region, characterized by weak social protection systems and underdeveloped long-term care systems. The COVID-19 pandemic has further heightened the vulnerability of older persons and revealed the limitations of the care ecosystem. To support member states, the report provides a one-of-a-kind roadmap to building forward better for older persons. It calls upon countries to seize the demographic window of opportunity and reflect on the recent lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure the protection and empowerment of older persons.

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