Thank you for coming to today’s discussion dedicated to the active aging agenda for Bulgaria. Last week we held a similar event in partnership with the Ministry focused on Early Childhood Development systems and services in Bulgaria. To a certain extent these two events are interrelated as they are all about essential services for all Bulgarians, including health, education, labour market opportunities and ensuring equal access for all to all of these services.
The fact that Bulgaria is heading for the steepest drop in working-aging population of any country in the world is not news. The World Bank report on mitigating the aging challenge in Bulgaria was launched in 2013 and has since then has generated a lot of discussion triggering a change in the government agenda.
There are many countries in the world that are facing a similar challenge. The objective of today’s discussion is not to outline a depressive picture of the future Bulgaria is facing, but rather to convene around a positive concept of active aging. It implies the idea of staying active while living longer; staying engaged with families and society in a healthy and respectful way; with good quality of life.
Today we are seeking to discuss policy actions and ideas that could be implemented across the board, promoting and supporting active aging for Bulgaria. We value our partnership with the government and we are happy to share the platform today to listen and learn from the government and other partners on their experience. We would contribute to the discussion with our knowledge, experience and analytical work.
Let me close with one important point. Speaking of aging there is no “they and us” – it is about all of us or how together we can grow older with better quality of life, with dignity and purpose. So, let us keep that in mind as we listen to one another and consider which policies are needed to make active aging possible for all of us.