Dear colleagues and members of the AAL community,
2021 has been a year of continuous adaptation with the ongoing pandemic.
Progress has been made since the outbreak in 2020 to better protect our ageing population with the widespread introduction of vaccines in Europe. Nevertheless, we are still under a lot of pressure to find ways out of this crisis, to reconnect with our loved ones, colleagues and outside world. Digital tools have helped a lot to stay in touch, but they cannot replace human touch – a potentially rare resource in the future, as former Prime Minister of Finland, Esko Aho, stated in our latest EWAHA 2021.
At the same time, 2021 was probably one of the busiest years for the AAL programme. Next to planning and implementing final projects and support actions, organising online seminars and the EWAHA 2021, preparations for the phasing-out of the AAL have been launched. After two European framework programmes since 2008, Horizon Europe will need to provide new avenues for supporting active & healthy ageing.
The additional AAL Call 2021 focused on the topic of ‘Advancing Inclusive Health & Care Solutions for Ageing Well in the New Decade’ and received 94 applications. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the call also included a possibility to fund Covid-19 related innovations, which resulted in a broad range of ideas for solutions, including remote monitoring and new ways to keep our healthcare facilities free of contamination.
Together with the JPI MYBL and the Friuli Venezia Giulia region (Italy) the second edition of the European Week of Active and Healthy Ageing was organised remotely again, having had to cancel the planned event in Trieste. This year’s focus was on the ongoing Decade of Healthy Ageing by the World Health Organization, which gathered 700 attendees. A large plethora of AAL community-driven workshops, an online exhibition and three plenary sessions were implemented. This year’s event also provided a unique platform for connection & collaboration between start-ups, SMEs, research organisations and others leading to a few hundred online meetings.
The EWAHA 2021 was flanked by a Hackathon, organized by the Upper Adriatic Technology Park, the AAL Programme and FVG at the Urban Centre in Trieste and the topic of “Active & Healthy over 65”.
To support AAL’s contribution towards the new Horizon Europe partnership in health & care in 2023, two key events are still planned in 2022: a collaboration with Health Valley in the Netherlands in March 2022 to on ‘European health & care collaboration’ and ‘Ageing well in Europe’. And finally, we will organise the third European Week of Active and Healthy Ageing in October 2022 in Gdansk, Poland.