The Madrid Plan is an International Plan of Action on Ageing adopted by the United Nations in April 2002, calling for a shift in thinking towards attitudes and policies with regards to individual and population ageing. In the Plan, 159 government representatives agreed to recognise the potential of older people to positively contribute to the development of their societies and to commit governments to address ageing as a key issue.

How are things going? According to a report in The Guardian, there is still room for improvement. As the author points out, “In 2008, ageing issues across the globe remain a low priority for policy development and budget allocation. Governments haven’t yet embraced the ‘enormous potential’ of older people. However, the message has been getting through to the older people themselves.”

Empowered by the solidarity discovered in Madrid, the elderly realise that it’s up to them to use their experience to influence the policy makers. As a participant in Madrid declared: ‘The governments are not the enemies, they are our children. We put them there and we can ask them to help’.