The MEP elections in May, 2019, has seen the birth of cross-European healthy longevity politics, but what happened since then? My question is focusing on all-European (cross-European) representation, including the big EU political arena, not on individual countries.
Not much. Here are some factors behind this.
- There’s no current MEP standing on the ground of longevity politics, understanding the emerging aging/longevity science and industry sector and its potential.
- Public attention deficit: Too many big, urgent issues already competing for attention, incredible dense political calendar, asap issues.
- Mainstream political media is largely ignorant about healthy longevity politics as a standalone issue. In general, health care issues are rarely amongst the hip, interesting ones, see point number 2.
What can be done along these factors to promote longevity politics in Europe?
- Not impossible, but not too realistic to get the attention of MEPs to recognise potential of longevity politics to re-frame health politics in general.
- Setting up new cross-European longevity institutions and alliances providing quality content. For more public attention, media coverage is key, more intensive educational activities around new scientific results on in aging/longevity research, translational geroscience.
- Fighting institutional ageism should be on the agenda for longevity politicians. A convincing argument can be made that fighting institutional ageism and working on healthy longevity are intimately connected in improving the lives of older people and enhance each other. It’s also possible to show connections between big issues like climate change and longevity.
What is out there already? Three examples to look out for, two of them defined within national boundaries, one in Germany, one in the UK. One is a global media platform.
- The German Party for Health Research (Partei für Gesundheitsforschung) is to date the only single-issue political party representing healthy longevity politics. They constantly engage in different political activities in Germany to raise awareness. They have an active Facebook group. They represent a bottom-up, grassroots approach.
- The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Longevity in the UK represents a top-down approach to have an impact on healthy life expectancy policy.
- Forbes is exceptional amongst professional media outlets to provide regular platform for pro longevity pieces, in policy, business and science. See for instance recent piece today by Tina Woods.
My position here is that of the political commentator, not the active longevity politician. I have both of my hands full, with managing an aging/longevity startup on one side, and writing a book on the philosophy of longevity, on the other side. For longevity politics one needs special policy people, the education and development for the first such generation is ongoing, who can stand within the new paradigm of advanced biomedical healthy longevity.
The problem is that just like longevity science, longevity industry and longevity philosophy, longevity politics is still a bleeding edge niche pursuit. It’s very new, although the motivations behind it are age-old.