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Global Agenda Council: the Challenges of Gerontology?

I announced two months ago (Global Agenda Councils: The Challenges of Gerontology) that I had been invited to join a very stimulating new initiative by the World Economic Forum.


Update (November 2nd, 2008): my proposal is to create a Global Consortium for Neurocognitive Fitness Innovation. Thank you for your comments below!


Next month, 700 experts will meet to drive an interdisciplinary agenda covering 68 topics (see below); 16 of us focused on the Challenges of Gerontology.

Dubai To Host 700 Of The World’s Most Influential Leaders From Academia, Business, Government and Society At First World Economic Forum Summit on the Global Agenda (I didn’t write the title of the press release…)

– “The World Economic Forum, in partnership with the Government of Dubai, will hold its inaugural Summit on the Global Agenda in Dubai from 7 to 9 November 2008. The Summit is a new, unique gathering of the world’s 700 most innovative and relevant minds – leaders from academia, business, government and society. In Dubai, Members of the Forum’s Network of Global Agenda Councils will share ideas and collaboratively address some of the most pressing issues on the global agenda.”

– “During the three-day Summit, the 700 participants of this interdisciplinary event will engage in interactive workshops and sessions to set priorities for the most compelling ideas for improving the state of the world – from groundbreaking areas of research to new and exciting developments to address the world’s challenges. The outcomes will be presented at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2009 for further discussion and action.

The list of Global Agenda Councils (I have highlighted with Bold topics relevant to the aging society and gerontology):

– Global Challenges: Demographic Shifts; Migration; Urban Management; Gender Gap; Skills Gap; Climate Change; Alternative Energies; Water Security; Biodiversity and Ecosystem Degradation; Mitigation of Natural Disasters; Food Security; Economic Imbalances; Systemic Financial Risk; Global Trade Regime; Global Capital Flows; Financial Empowerment; Economic Growth and Development; Trade Facilitation; Global Governance; Energy Security; Corruption; Illicit Trade; Terrorism; Proliferation and Weapons of Mass Destruction; Corporate Governance; Humanitarian Assistance; Fragile States; International Legal System; Welfare of Children; Technology and Education; Healthcare Systems; HIV/AIDS; Challenges of Gerontology; Pandemics; Chronic Diseases and Malnutrition; Challenges of Nanotechnology; Human Equality and Respect; Islam-West Dialogue; Negotiation and Conflict Resolution; Empowering Youth

– Industry-oriented: Future of Mobility; Future of Media; Future of Entertainment; Future of the Internet; Future of Mobile Communications; Future of Metals and Mining; Future of Sustainable Construction; Future of Real Estate

– Regional/Country-oriented: Future of Africa; Future of Latin America; Future of the Middle East; Future of China; Future of Russia; Future of Japan; Future of Australia; Future of Korea

– Expertise Councils: Design; Marketing and Branding; Entrepreneurship; Philanthropy and Social Investing; Benchmarking Progress in Society; Emerging Multinationals; Financial Markets Development; Future of Governments; Sports in Society; Geography of Innovation; Strategic Foresight; Diversity; Social Entrepreneurship

Homework assignment: I have been asked to write “an 800 words summary of your most compelling actionable idea on the challenges of gerontology” by October 28th.

Can you help me out? In your view, and in just a couple of paragraphs,

1) what is the single most important thing that as a society we could be doing to engage the growing number of brains over the age of 60 in our planet,

2) how can we help transform a “challenge” into an “opportunity” to add value to other topics listed above – and to the brains involved in doing so?

You can either write a comment below, or send your thoughts to me using this Contact Us form. Thank you!

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7 Responses

  1. I am inquiring about the possibility of a scholarship for this conference?

  2. Elizabeth Smith says:

    Many brain diseases associated with aging seem to be mitigated by exercise yet we do not yet understand precisely how this happens. Drug-related research is richly funded, yet it is more difficult to find research funding for potentially powerful disease mitigation strategies that will not result in profits. I’d like to see increased funding for an aggressive research agenda that aims to identify specific mental and physical exercise strategies that have a mitigating effect on specific brain diseases.

  3. T. Sprenger says:

    The carrot and the stick.

    The ‘stick’ is time and aging.

    the ‘carrot’ is money. Our economic system often throws the working person out when they get over 50.

    Can we change that?
    Can we have an enhanced minimum wage specifically for those over fifty? So the working poor who are older are not so dependent, and can create their own retirement?

  4. Emory Hill says:

    We are now able to use automation and touch screens in medical facilityes to cheaply track changes in the cognitive functioning of older people around the world. The accurate anticipation of cognitive decline results in substantial reductions of costs, both emotional and financial, to patients, families, doctors, and retirement facilities. When better treatments for Alzheimer’s emerge, a record of baseline abilities will allow doctors to selectively perform the expensive evaluations for possible treatment as soon as impairment begins, rather than waiting for more severe impairments to be evident. This is crucial because new treatments for Alzheimer’s are likely to slow or stop, not reverse, cognitive decline.

  5. Priscilla, as far as I know, this is an invite-only conference.

    Elizabeth, T and Emory, thank you for your excellent contributions!
    – more research emphasis on how physical and mental exercise can potentially delay/ alleviate brain problems (aging-related, and beyond).
    – providing options for older adults to maintain economic independence.
    – how to leverage emerging computer-based cognitive assessments as baseline and to inform diagnosis and treatment.

    More suggestions?

  6. William McPeck says:

    In this age of information overload, seems to me one of the greatest challenges we face is how to make best use of what we already know. We need to take the information we currently know about the brain and aging, along with what we have yet to learn and put it into a format(s)that can be widely disseminated for use by the greatest number of people. Coming from the worksite wellness arena, I wonder how employers might best use this information, particularly as our workforce ages. How might healthcare organizations best use what we already know, particularly our long term care facilities? How might community public health and social service agencies best use the information? What are current evidence based best practices and how might they be used across the various venues? While new research endeavors are important, let’s make sure we put to the best use possible what we already know, and I am not convinced we are currently doing that. Hopefully you will share with us your final product…

  7. Thank you William, I agree with your assessment. Focusing on implementing and scaling best practices is as important as new research.

    I will be happy to share my “actionable idea”, and have asked the organizers what other information I can share (other participants are writing similar essays, and then we are working as a group). This is going to be a very stimulating, and we hope impactful, initiative. Thank you for your thoughts.

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