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Measuring Age-friendliness: WHO Kobe Centre Calls for Cities to Participate in Piloting of a New Guide to Using Core Indicators

Ideally, every community should know whether the environment promotes the participation and health of all its citizens. In societies which have, or which are expecting, a large proportion of older adults in their population, it is especially important to know how well the environment responds to their unique needs. These are things a community should know before it sets out to invest in creating age-friendly environments, while it implements change, and after actions have been taken. But how does a community know where it stands today? How can it establish goals for the future, and assess progress along the way to achieve those goals? The careful selection and use of good indicators provides an important key to answer these questions.

The WHO Centre for Health Development (WHO Kobe Centre) based in Kobe, Japan, is leveraging its expertise in urban health metrics to develop a new approach for cities to measure their age-friendliness. Since 2012, it has conducted research, expert consultations and a survey of local government officials and community representatives to identify core indicators of age-friendly environments. As a result, it has developed a set of indicators and a framework which are inclusive of the original eight domains of an Age-friendly City as well as the three pillars of Active Ageing, while also introducing some novel conceptualizations. The approach is flexible and adaptable, reflecting both the evolving science and the context-dependent nature of this work. The indicators are intended for use, as appropriate and applicable, by cities and communities worldwide.

As of October 2014, the outcomes of this work have been consolidated into a draft document titled, “Measuring the Age-friendliness of Cities: A Guide to Using Core Indicators” (tentative title). The draft Guide is available in English and French, and will soon be in Spanish and Chinese as well.

For more information contact:

Megumi Kano
WHO Centre for Health Development (WKC)
Technical Officer, Urban Health
Email address:

 WHO Kobe Centre website


Photo:  Megumi Kano/WHO –  Experts from around the world gather to deliberate the selection of core indicators of age-friendliness of cities