UN International Day of Older Persons

“Fulfilling the Promises of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for Older Persons: Across Generations”

Dear Colleagues and Dear Friends,

On the 1st of October this year, we come together to commemorate the 33rd International Day of Older Persons (UNIDOP). This day holds significance as we strive to:

  • Raise awareness about the opportunities and challenges brought about by demographic shifts;
  • Spotlight the valuable roles older persons play in our society;
  • Extend an invitation to all to embrace and prepare for a society characterized by longevity.

Over the past few decades, life expectancy has increased across all European Member States, with demographic change becoming an integral facet of policy. We have every reason to celebrate longevity, but it is equally imperative that we support older persons through a human rights-based approach to ageing policies.

In my capacity as President of the European Seniors’ Union (ESU), I am pleased to express our dedication and vision for a human rights-centered approach to shaping all European policies related to demographic changes. During the recent EU government period, the EU Commission made a pivotal decision to incorporate a new vision, particularly emphasizing the integration of ageing throughout the life course. We call upon the preservation of fundamental European values such as human dignity, democracy, and solidarity to ensure well-being for all generations, leaving no one behind.

Let us embrace our role as active citizens within civil society, regardless of our place of residence, be it within a community or a care facility. Our duty is to protect our vulnerable fellow citizens, empower family members, friends, and community members, ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to age in dignity – both now and in the future. Let us take action today to empower future generations and secure a brighter tomorrow for all.

Dear Friends,

In 2023, as we mark the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the international community calls for our attention to the theme:

“Fulfilling the Promises of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for Older Persons: Across Generations”

75 years ago, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, a monumental document in the history of human rights. It stands as the first document to articulate the fundamental human rights meant to be universally safeguarded. Recent years have revealed that older persons face unique challenges in various situations, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, extreme weather events caused by climate change, and the impacts of digitalization on societal structures. They often encounter age-based discrimination in institutions, attitudes, and practices. Recent research by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has underscored the gaps in implementing international and national legal frameworks for older persons. Systemic and structural barriers persist in areas like employment, standards of living, educational opportunities, and access to services and resources, all due to ageist attitudes, discriminatory laws, and policies. 

In response, older persons and their associations are taking proactive steps to prevent and reduce these threats. Speaking on behalf of older persons, we declare, “The digital era? Also my era!”  The Senior generation is ready and willing to participate in policy making that affects them, a fundamental prerequisite for devising effective solutions to the challenges and opportunities they face.

Dear colleagues,

We advocate for the empowerment of seniors, underscoring the significance of their active involvement in decisions that directly affect their lives. An age-friendly society encourages senior citizens to stay engaged and participate actively, even in the face of unexpected crises. We stand united for Europe and its core values of human dignity, peace, democracy, and solidarity, defending these values as essential principles for people around the world.

Let us joyously celebrate the UNIDOP. Let us appreciate the additional years of life that now grace the lives of so many. Together, let us build bridges of solidarity that span across borders and generations, ensuring that all persons can age with dignity, and no one is left behind.

With warm regards,

An Hermans

European Seniors’ Union President


Please find the pdf-version of the letter here.



Events in 2023

ESU Annual Report 2023


Our ESU 2023 Annual Report is available

Brainstorm on “Enhancing the Digital Skills of Seniors in the Slovak Republic”


The primary aim of this project is to optimize digital literacy among seniors in Slovakia by developing lessons focused on digitalization for seniors.

New perspectives about ageing better

NIcosia - Cyprus

Regional Conference in Nicosia on new perspectives about ageing better

The ESU joins UNIDOP celebrations in Cyprus

Foini - Cyprus

On October 1, ESU President An Hermans and Secretary-General Guido Dumon joined in the UN International Day of Older Persons (UNIDOP) festivities in Cyprus.

Empowering Active Retirees in the Digital Era: An Inspiring Encounter


On July 20, 2023, ESU-president An Hermans was invited to speak before a group of retired professionals in Kortrijk, Flanders on the topic: MIL.

News from the ESU associations: Thoughts and experiences to share


The final morning of the academy was dedicated to the ESU-association's internal aspects and future prospects.

Martens Centre Survey on 'Regaining the Middle Ground for the Centre Right' and discussions


The focus of the survey was on understanding the mindset of the European middle class, particularly their economic, psychological, and security concerns.

Advancing a Human Rights-Based Approach to the Digital Environment


Patrick Penninckx led a presentation on fostering a sustainable, people-centered, and human rights-based approach to the challenges posed by digital environment

Europe as a task & Challenges for the EU


3rd Day of the ESU Summer Academy with guest speaker Herman Van Rompuy, Emeritus President of the EU Council

'Europe as a Task'


Insights into EU Governance: Exploring the European Commission and the European Semester at the Summer Academy

ESU's Visit to EPP Headquarters in Brussels


Strengthening Bonds and Understanding: ESU's Visit to EPP Headquarters in Brussels

"Why Europe? - Presidency Meeting with Prof. Steven Van Hecke"


ESU presidium meeting during first day of the Summer Academy

​​European People's Party Political Assembly in Munich


The EPP Political Assembly brings together representatives from all EPP member parties and associations

The European Day of Solidarity between Generations


The European Day of Solidarity between Generations aim is to raise awareness of the importance of intergenerational solidarity and to promote dialogue.

Symposium CD&V-senioren – CDA senioren – European Seniors’ Union


A fascinating day on ‘Creating dignity in the final phase of life"

National meeting 'Generation 60+' in Bozen/ Bolzano

Bozen/ Bolzano

'Generation 60+' held an election meeting in which Otto von Dellemann and Christine von Stefenelli were confirmed in their positions.

The EU’s Care Strategy – Perspectives and Reflections of the ESU


A European Care Strategy was at the center of the discussions at the ESU Executive Committee Meeting (EXCO), which took place on March 25, in Leuven.

ExCo meeting in Leuven- Side Event


The ESU Facilitated meeting between the Chairpersons of the Foreign Affairs Committees of the Belgian and Romanian Parliaments

Presidium and Executive Committee meeting in Leuven


On 24-26 March, we organised a meeting in Leuven with Presidium members and Executive Committee members.

Biennial national meeting of Hoyre-Seniors


ESU president An Hermans and general secretary Guido Dumon were invited to Bergen, Norway, for the biennial national meeting of Hoyre-Seniors.

A new EU healthcare strategy - Video conference with Sirpa Pietikäinen


Besides some information on ongoing ESU initiatives, the meeting focused on the new European care strategy.