IFLA has been working hard to bring libraries into the UN climate change debate. From COP27 to COP28, and this past week at the June UN Climate Meetings, we have been making space on behalf of our members and volunteers to highlight how libraries help achieve global goals.

One year ago, we launched an initiative together with the Measuring and Evaluating Climate Communication and Education (MECCE) Project to create a library indicator on the MECCE Project’s data platform. This would help us picture how libraries are actually engaging with climate and environmental sustainability issues.

This initiative has been informed by a set of surveys, asking both library associations and individual libraries to share insight into how they engage with climate empowerment. A year later, we have data for 52 countries, with over 400 individual libraries also providing responses.

Key Messages from the Survey:

Libraries are engaging in climate communication and education

70% of Library associations (37/50) report that libraries in their country either frequently or occasionally offer programmes on climate change or other environmental or sustainability issues. Those that offer programmes focus on:

  • Informing sustainable practices in libraries – 77%
  • Encouraging education and/or lifelong learning activities – 74%
  • Encouraging community participation activities – 60%

This tells us that libraries can target a range of climate empowerment pillars in their activities, from education to participation and access to information. We see there is a solid base of action, but there is much scope to exchange good practice and build capacity for climate action in more libraries.

Library associations are providing training on climate and sustainability

Many library professionals need support and up-skilling on climate issues. The survey asked library associations if they are offering training sessions or continued professional development (CPD) opportunities that prepare library professionals to engage in climate, environmental, or sustainability communication, education, and/or advocacy.

54% of associations (27/50) report that they provide opportunities for library professionals to grow their skills on:

  • Leading public awareness and participation programmes – 65%
  • Engaging in climate and sustainability advocacy  – 62%
  • Supporting education on climate change/environmental sustainability – 56%
Libraries and Associations are seeking partnerships

Climate empowerment must be a joint effort. According to the survey, 50% of library associations (25/50) reported that they have established relationships with government agencies, municipal services and/or other external partners to engage in cooperative initiatives or public dialogues on climate issues.

National associations have mostly established relationships with national government entities, while 70% of individual libraries who work with external partners (total 160) have engaged with local or municipal governments.

 If public demand increases, many libraries will need more support

For libraries to continue to grow climate empowerment in their communities, they require more capacity.

Policymakers working within the climate empowerment space at the UN are calling for greater investment in climate education, participation, and access to information in their countries. However, 58% of responding associations (29/50) have said that if public demand for climate change, biodiversity and sustainability resources were to increase, the resources of libraries in their countries to support this demand would be insufficient.

This tells us that if policymakers invest in other areas of climate empowerment, they must also invest in supporting libraries to continue serving their communities.  A holistic approach, including libraries as partners, is required to tackle the climate crisis.

Refer to the MECCE Project’s Global Data Platform to further explore these results, including individual results per county.

What comes next?

IFLA will continue developing the outcomes of this survey and the data offered by the MECCE Project’s Data Platform into a global report. This will help us provide concrete policy recommendations ahead of the 29th UN Climate Change Conference (COP29), to be held in Azerbaijan later this year.

You can still contribute data from your country!

Contact: [email protected]