World Health Organization Age-friendly Community Initiative

Global Age-Friendly Strategies: A GuideIn 2006, the World Health Organization (WHO) started an age-friendly community initiative that involved 33 cities of varying sizes throughout the world. The British Columbia Ministry of Health assisted in the initiative by supporting the initial meeting of collaborating cities in Vancouver, in May 2006. Subsequent meetings involved discussions about lessons and strategies to build age-friendly communities. One of the outcomes of the initiatives was a publication titled 'Global Age-friendly Cities: A Guide' in 2007. The publication introduced the concept that an age-friendly community encourages active aging by optimizing opportunities for health, participation, and security in order to enhance quality of life as people grow older.

Age-friendly BC (AFBC) Recognition Program

The Seniors’ Healthy Living Secretariat, Ministry of Health, has established a program to assist communities and local governments in becoming age-friendly. The Age-friendly BC (AFBC) Recognition Program:

  • formally recognizes and rewards communities in BC that have completed age-friendly work;
  • supports and guides additional communities in BC in attaining formal age-friendly recognition;
  • builds upon the momentum generated in communities about the importance of age-friendly concepts, and continues to promote these across the province; and
  • raises awareness in communities about the needs of older residents, and how changes can be implemented to support seniors’ independence, and healthy, active aging.

AFBC recognition will grant local governments:

  • a recognition award;
  • a one-page action summary highlighting age-friendly achievements, to be posted on the AFBC section of the  website;
  • promotion of your community’s activities in the SeniorsBC e-newsletter;
  • recommendation by the Province to grant the local government age-friendly recognition at the national and international level through the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the World Health Organization respectively;    
  • access to a cohesive network of age-friendly organizations (provincial, national, and international);   
  • a recognition reward to help the community provide an age-friendly community legacy or celebration.

AFBC recommends a process to gain recognition, including the following steps:

  1. Establish an age-friendly committee
  2. Pass a local Council or district board resolution
  3. Conduct an age-friendly Assessment
  4. Develop and publish an action plan or strategy
  5. Implement the action plan
  6. Monitor age-friendly progress

To achieve AFBC status, a local government must complete the first four steps. Upon completion, local governments can apply for AFBC status. To ensure continued age-friendly success and maintain recognition status, local governments must implement the action plan and monitor progress (steps 5 and 6) as an ongoing commitment.