United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

SHAFE implemented through NET4Age-Friendly


    A new concept was created in 2017 based on the desire to implement Smart Healthy Age-Friendly Environments (SHAFE) across Europe, fostering happier and healthier people in all communities. This idea took shape and became a solid movement. This is how SHAFE was born and further launched, as a Thematic Network, approved by the European Commission, with the ambition to draw policymakers, organisations and citizens’ attention to the need for better alignment between health, social care, built environments and ICT, both in policy and funding. Gathering over 160 organisations as partners, SHAFE delivered a Joint Statement and a Framing Paper to the EC and MS in 2018.


    In 2018, SHAFE evolved a European Stakeholders Network, which is currently working to achieve better ‘Cooperation’ and ‘Implementation’, as the major challenges for the next period, towards the development of healthier environments for all citizens that are accessible, sustainable and reachable for all, with the support of ICT. The SHAFE Network focus on the narrative, debate, disclosure and knowledge translation of smart digital solutions and of solutions to optimize the physical and social environments of individuals in a concerted manner, bringing together also the domains of health and social care. The Network currently counts with several funded projects implementing different perspectives of SHAFE, namely a COST Action with almost 300 stakeholders (quadruple helix) from 43 countries.

    Contribution to SDG Implementation

    The SHAFE concept makes use of a holistic approach to optimise peoples’ social and physical environments as well as defining supportive provisions (such as ICT, healthcare and services) to improve independent living, equity and an active and healthy participation in society. The United Nations stated with the Sustainable Development Goals (in particular with Goal 3 and 11) that sustainable age-friendly environments represent the baseline for guaranteeing a better future for the whole population and for addressing most of the growing ageing population issues.

    Implementation methodologies

    SHAFE is the conceptual basis of the Stakeholders Network and a broad myriad of projects that are implementing its different aspects (e.g. capacity building with BIG; training in HandsonShafe; regional cohesion with EU_SHAFE; solution development with Activas), being one of them NET4Age-Friendly, an international and interdisciplinary network of stakeholders from all sectors and the whole world to foster awareness, and to support the creation and implementation of smart, healthy indoor and outdoor environments for present and future generations. NET4Age-Friendly aims to overcome fragmentation and critical gaps at both conceptual and pragmatic innovation level on responsive, age-friendly and sustainable environments in order to address the research-policy future requirements of Europe. The main approach of NET4Age-Friendly is the establishment of new local or regional ecosystems or by expanding existing ones in each country involved, to work on health and wellbeing in an age-friendly digital world. The ecosystems consist of citizens, public authorities, businesses/NGOs and researchers and are supported by four thematic Working Groups: User-centred inclusive design in age-friendly environments and communities Integrated health and well-being pathways Digital solutions and large-scale sustainable implementation Policy development, funding forecast and cost-benefit evaluations The outcomes of the four thematic Working Groups derive to a 5th one, creating a synergised output - the Reference Framework. NET4 is funded with 600.000€ for 4 years and is used as a connector for involving local and regional stakeholders and users’ representatives from various countries and backgrounds, as well as for fostering knowledge creation and sharing among researchers.


    To achieve the goals of healthy living, social inclusion and participation, the SHAFE Network focus on an enhancement of the major concept areas of People and Places and launched a pledge to involve (end)users from the beginning in any solutions, products and services, by adopting a co-creation, co-development and co-production methodology and recognise living and social environments as key building-blocks of any initiative. SHAFE’s Position Paper https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/smart-healthy-age-fr… handles the issues of coordination and implementation, ensuring a user-centred approach and provides indicators to measure progress and success on the realisation of safe and social SHAFE. Partners of the SHAFE Network and the COST Action NET4AGE-FRIENDLY had the opportunity to express their commitments in this Position Paper and to indicate their alignment and contributions.

    Factors and Constraints

    SHAFE domains engage quintuple-helix stakeholders to prepare and offer integrated solutions. While working on the realisation of SHAFE practices in SMART, BUILT and HEALTHY environments, many constraints and challenges occur that have to be solved during the process such as regulation, funding, willingness of stakeholders. To overcome these issues, this engagement and connection between health and social care, local and regional organisations, housing companies and the building sector, ICT companies, third sector organisations and citizens needs to be coordinated and is the cornerstone of true transformation.

    Sustainability and replicability

    SHAFE and NET4Age-Friendly are international networks that work at all levels of society, such as citizens advocacy, universities, politics, public administration, entrepreneurs in different fields such as ICT, health and social care, building and construction companies, urban planners/architects. SHAFE and NET4 intrinsic aim is to promote the development of inclusive local, regional or national ecosystems (composed of a quadruple helix of citizens, public authorities, companies, and researchers) which interact and coordinate at the international level. This strategy allows them to literally become viral, by exponentially increasing the networking, the dissemination and knowledge exchange among scientists, business, public, local administrations, policy makers, professionals, and citizens. This brings an inspiring and fruitful new way of cooperation that fosters knowledge and promote grassroot implementation at a broader scale, combining top-down and bottom-up perspectives.

    COVID-19 Impact

    The meaning and notion of SHAFE as a holistic approach that promotes the alignment of policies and strategies is a unique roadmap for the implementation in and across Europe. When we acknowledge the serious challenges, especially those related to demographic change and the COVID-19 pandemic, it is not possible anymore to still work in silos or to keep positions for individual interest. Before any other role, we all are citizens and we have a duty as to work together in a bid for a better world. COVID has not directly impacted the implementation of SHAFE, au contraire, the inclusive environments proposed by SHAFE would be adequate solutions to minimise the effects of the pandemic and relieve the pressure on health and care systems.

    Contact Name
    SHINE 2Europe
    Geographical coverage

    Worldwide, with main focus in Europe

    01 October 2017 (start date)
    31 December 2099 (date of completion)
    More information
    Contact Information

    Carina, Smart Healthy Age-Friendly Environments