Annual greetings from AAL

Dear colleagues and members of the AAL community,

2020 will surely be remembered as a year of profound crisis affecting the lives of almost everyone around the world.

The global pandemic has led to a catharsis, questioning our ways of lives, which are not sustainable, neither for our planet nor for ourselves. The often debated need for the transformation of our economy, the redesign of our health and care systems and a more sustainable way of life has encountered a moment of truth and action!

The Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare the fragility of our care system, in particular for the older population, where the highest death toll had to be deplored. Our older adults were not only hardest hit by the virus, but also suffered the most and continue to suffer from the tragic consequences of social isolation and loneliness. Active & Healthy ageing has received a whole new meaning and importance during this pandemic, putting it at the forefront for a new societal discourse on ageing well in a more and more digitalized world.

The AAL Programme’s objectives and vision have clearly received much more attention over the last months. While we all had to move into remote work, we were prepared for it as an operational team, in our governance and as a membership association overall, after having accelerated the digitalization and change management over the last few years. We have learned a lot as an organization and as individuals during this year, building alliances with people and organizations to promote even more active and healthy ageing in Europe.

The AAL Call 2020 received a record number of applications of 111, which lead to 24 new projects in 18 countries to be funded. We revealed the winners of the third edition of the Smart Ageing Prize focusing on Senior Entrepreneurship in 2020. Congratulations to this year’s winner Diaspo upholding the cultural heritage of local cooking by our seniors!

Together with the JPI MYBL and the EIPonAHA we organised the first European Week of Active and Healthy Ageing online in November to provide thought-provoking discussions, such as the EU’s and the UN’s perspective on the decade of healthy ageing, the importance of local health & care ecosystems for sustainable innovation or the experience of medical professionals on the ground dealing with the pandemic.

While the general outlook for 2021 remains uncertain, there are glimpses of hope for a change over the course of the year. The AAL will continue serving its community in supporting in particular the transformation of our health & care systems for ageing well in a digital Europe. We will launch our final call within the AAL2 programme, which will be presented online at the end of January 2021.

The AAL Forum 2021 will be held in Trieste, Italy between May 10-12 within the broader framework of the second edition of the European Week of Active and Healthy Ageing. This edition will continue to fill with life the WHO’s Decade of Healthy Ageing as regards innovation in Europe while learning from the crisis and changes started over 2020.

We look forward to continuing our collaboration with you in 2021, in order to support our society to adapt to the accelerating demographic change in this decade.

Klaus Niederländer

Director of the AAL Association

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