Local governments are not just a key stakeholder for many libraries, but also a key ally in making the case for a stronger recognition of the role of culture, cultural institutions and cultural actors in advancing sustainable development. We were therefore very happy to join United Cities and Local Governments’ Culture Summit, focused on building recognition of this role, and to sign a memorandum of understanding allowing us to take this work further. 

Picture of a panel at the UCLG Culture Summit - six people on a podium with a powerpoint behind and plants in frontAs a founding member of the Culture2030Goal campaign, IFLA is among the group of organisations leading calls for a stronger and clearer place for culture in development frameworks.

We argue in this context that the failure to include culture as a goal in the UN’s 2030 Agenda has led to serious missed opportunities, with governments too often forgetting what culture can contribute, and the sector itself less able to see itself as an actor in this space.

Ensuring the inclusion of a clear culture goal in the future, as well as building the momentum to have it included systematically in implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) today, is therefore at the heart of this work.

In this campaign, IFLA is proud to work alongside United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), the main international organisation for local and regional governments, which offers a space not just for sharing ideas and experience between peers, but also as a clear voice on the global stage. They have had important successes in advancing the SDG localisation agenda, and ensuring that wider UN processes consider the local properly.

Sign for the Culture Summit - Culture Future Goal - on an MDF sign holder, pointing into a brick buildingWe were therefore very happy to be invited to play an active role at UCLG’s Culture Summit, held in Dublin on 28 November – 1 December. Under the theme Culture. Future. Goal., this focused on building awareness of work globally to promote a culture goal, but also to show the world as a whole the breadth and depth of support for this.

IFLA spoke in three sessions, with the Secretary General Sharon Memis joining partners in the Culture2030Goal campaign to explain the relevance of this work for libraries. We were also able to set out the case for local governments to see libraries as partners for delivering development across the board, including in areas not usually associated with culture, and to join a discussion panel on artificial intelligence, where we underlined the importance of building skills and curiosity at the level of individuals in communities.

Sharon Memis and Emilia Saiz holding up copies of the signed UCLG-IFLA Memorandum of Understanding
Sharon Memis, IFLA (left), Emilia Saiz, UCLG (right)

A highlight of the meeting was the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding with UCLG by IFLA Secretary General Sharon Memis and UCLG counterpart Emilia Saiz. This provides a structure not just for further work around the culture goal, but also more broadly to ensure that the potential of libraries to support inclusive and sustainable local development is delivered.