Newcastle upon Tyne, UK – The UK National Innovation Centre for Ageing (NICA) was joined by representatives from a number of countries last week (July 6th) for a unique international conference on healthy ageing in cities.
The inaugural City of Longevity Global Conference brought together researchers and NGOs with city leaders and the private sector to discuss methods and policies for extending the healthy lifespan of urban residents and visitors.
Hosted by NICA in partnership with Newcastle City Council, Newcastle University, North of Tyne Combined Authority, NewcastleGateshead Initiative, Invest Newcastle, North East Times, Monstarlab and Newcastle United Foundation, the conference saw a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the city delegations to formalise and implement the City of Longevity toolkit.
The toolkit was presented by Professor Nic Palmarini, Director of NICA, and Yochai Zion Shavit, Director of Research at Stanford University Centre on Longevity, and aims to facilitate the creation of replicable models of urban development that systematically promote healthy ageing and longevity through all channels of contact between cities, residents and visitors.
It includes recommendations for how city planners and policy makers can leverage data and technology to inform decision making and measure the impact of new city programmes and health interventions.
Professor Nic Palmarini, Director of NICA, said: “If we are to be successful in making the transition from age-friendly cities to longevity cities, then we must have engagement at every level – political, economic, academic, civil society and of courses residents and visitors.
“The first City of Longevity Global Conference allowed us to bring everyone together in a unique way to discuss the big questions facing humanity as we prepare for the second billion of people aged over 60.
“We hope that our City of Longevity toolkit will also give us a common language from which we can build universal models of prevention to extend the health span, reduce the cost of care and integrate public health systems with social infrastructure so that people can participate in city life for longer.”
The July 6th conference was formally opened by Newcastle City Council, Newcastle University and North of Tyne Combined Authority, which are each committed to making Newcastle a testbed for the City of Longevity and a model for other cities around the world.
Cllr Nick Kemp, Leader of Newcastle City Council, said: “Newcastle has a long history of health innovation and so it was brilliant to see us once again leading the way by hosting the first ever City of Longevity Global Conference with NICA.
“From Bergamo to Buenos Aires and everywhere in between, we are all experiencing growth in both the size and proportion of our older population and so we need to work together through initiatives like this if we are going to be longevity ready.”
The latest population data, which shows the scale of the challenge facing cities, was presented by Horatio Cristian Terraza, Lead Urban Specialist at The World Bank.
He was joined by leading international figures such as Guendalina Graffigna, Director of Engage Minds Hub at the Universita Cattolica of Milan, Margherita Cejas, Chief of Staff at the Ministry of Health of the City Government of Buenos Aires and Giorgio Gori, Mayor of Bergamo.
The City of Longevity Global Conference comes at a time of accelerating demographic change across the world and also growing awareness of the need to tackle barriers to spending in the older population and understand the opportunities of the longevity economy.
Through its Voice® citizen network and a range of innovative programmes, NICA is at the forefront of research and development around the longevity economy, working with business and academia to deploy new products and services for people to be healthy at all stages of life.
The North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA) is a key supporter of this activity and will work alongside the city council and university to implement the City of Longevity toolkit.
Henry Kippin, Chief Executive of NTCA and Interim Chief Executive of North East Mayoral Combined Authority, said: “We are delighted to be supporting NICA as it works to understand how cities are changing in response to the unprecedented increase in human life expectancy that we have witnessed over the last century. As a combined authority, we are committed to helping residents lead healthier, happier lives and building a more inclusive and resilient urban economy.”
Professor Chris Day, Vice-Chancellor and President of Newcastle University, said: “The City of Longevity Global Conference marks an important milestone in NICA’s development and as one of the world’s foremost universities, we were delighted to welcome so many international delegates to discuss the important subject of healthy ageing in the urban context.”