Age-friendly Cities in Brazil

About the Age-friendly Cities movement

The Age-friendly Cities movement, initiated by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) global programme on ageing, started in 2007 and now encompasses over 300 cities across 33 countries, with hundreds more informal initiatives. The movement was conceived and instigated by Alexandre Kalache, the then Director of the global programme and now President of the International Longevity Centre Brazil who continues to guide the development of the global AFC network as WHO board member. Ina Voelcker, now Technical Director at ILC-Brazil, was also a key member of the team that launched the initiative from WHO’s headquarters in Geneva in 2007. Drawing on this unique international experience, ILC-Brazil has now developed an age-friendly model that is specifically tailored to the Brazilian setting.

The project is firmly based on the conceptual framework of Active Ageing which is defined as a process that optimises the opportunities for health, life-long learning, participation and security in order to promote quality of life as we age. Applying the lens of older persons to the built environment, the project objective is to transform urban spaces into places of easy, comfortable and secure cohabitation for older, and all other citizens.

It is so sensible, so right, that one wonders why all cities are not doing it. There are two major reasons why it is so sensible. First, it is based on the principle of active ageing, (…): older age is not a time to be put out to pasture. Second, the practical recommendations were developed bottom-up: by listening to the voices of older people round the world who said what they needed (…).

Sir Michael Marmot (Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at UCL and Harvard, President of the World Medical Association, former Chair of the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health) in his book “The Health Gap: The Challenge of an Unequal World”


The guiding principles are:

  • that age-friendly urban design is friendly to all ages, and
  • that “nothing for us, without us” must apply to all age-friendly design.


What we do

To this end, ILC-Brazil partners with specific sectors:

  • The Municipal Councils of Older Persons (main actors)
  • Local Government (to orient and regulate implementation)
  • Academia (to apply scientific standard to the ILC-Brazil methodology)
  • Private Sector (guiding businesses to utilise the federal law that enables them to divert up to 1% of their income tax toward sanctioned age-friendly initiatives).
  • Media (to propel the actions beyond the local setting)
  • International network of Age-friendly Communities and inter-governmental agencies

ILC-Brazil works with the partners during these crucial steps:

  • To create the mechanisms to involve older persons and to establish ownership
  • To evaluate local conditions (Baseline Assessment)
  • To elaborate a politically achievable and sustainable Action Plan
  • To guide the implementation of the Action Plan
  • To establish the scientific monitoring and evaluation of the Action Plan
  • To establish a bridge to other national and international age-friendly communities

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Case Study: Veranópolis

The first municipality which followed this methodology and joined WHO’s Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities is Veranópolis, a city with high standards of living and known for its decades-long research on longevity, located in the State of Rio Grande do Sul. The project was financed by a leading energy supplier (CPFL) utilising the Brazilian federal tax exemption that allows for money to be diverted to initiatives that benefit older citizens.

Have a look at this video (at the moment only in Portuguese): Cidades para Todas as Idades

A selection of the national coverage: