Coming Up in 2023: Libraries addressing the climate emergency
25 January 2023
Finding solutions to the climate crisis is not only the task of scientists, engineers, and politicians. This global challenge requires input from all people – from all sectors – to address.
Around the world, libraries have been helping their users understand and engage with environmental sustainability issues. Libraries have a unique position with communities. They are able to reach people of all demographics, providing learning and research opportunities, championing universal access to information, countering disinformation, and enabling public participation.
Through environment and sustainability themed programmes, events, exhibitions, and resource sharing, libraries have acted as hubs for communicating on and engaging users in climate action. Just look to IFLA’s Green Library Award winners for a wealth of examples!
Over the past years, IFLA has been working with the experts and volunteers within our network, as well as with our partners in the Climate Heritage Network, to bring libraries to the table where global climate change policy is being discussed.
2023 offers new possibilities to highlight the contribution of the global library field to addressing the climate emergency. Here is a look at key topics and opportunities for the coming year.
Action for Climate Empowerment
During 2022, IFLA encouraged greater recognition of libraries as partners in implementing Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE).
ACE refers to climate education, public awareness, training, public participation, public access to information, and international cooperation.
The highest-level international agreements on climate change, namely the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement, include a commitment to implementing ACE – a commitment that libraries can play a key role in upholding.
Learn more here:
Aligning library engagement in climate action with Action for Climate Empowerment can help libraries be recognised as valuable partners in the design and implementation of national strategies for climate empowerment.
This brief provides an overview of the Glasgow Work Programme for Action for Cli...
ACE Action Plan
During the 2022 UN Climate Change Conference (COP27), IFLA joined conversations on ACE and highlighted the role of libraries in its implementation.
COP27 increased momentum for ACE by launching a short-term, clear, and time-bound action plan, which reinforces climate empowerment as being fundamental to the achievement of climate goals.
In 2023, there is the opportunity to further explore where libraries can fit into this action plan, cooperating with other stakeholders at the local and national levels to help develop ACE activities. Some ideas for engaging with the ACE Action Plan can be found here: The 2022 UN Climate Change Conference (COP27): Outcomes and opportunities for libraries.
Research on ACE in Libraries
Meanwhile, IFLA plans to build a stronger foothold internationally, working with partners to integrate library perspectives into ACE plans and advocate for greater recognition of the impact libraries have on climate education and communication.
In support of this, IFLA is beginning a new research project, together with partners from the Monitoring and Evaluating Climate Communication and Education (MECCE) Project.
We will soon launch a survey to measure the contribution of libraries to the UNFCCC’s ACE programme. In particular, this survey will gauge the extent to which libraries provide opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to learn about, and take action on, climate change, biodiversity and environmental sustainability.
The collected survey data will provide a basis for creating one or more climate communication and education (CCE) indicators at the country level related to the greening of libraries and library associations. As a measure of non-formal climate education, this project will supplement existing indicators that focus on formal education.
We are excited to undertake this project to help build a solid evidence base of the role libraries have in ACE. The outcomes of this project will strengthen our advocacy and our ability to make policy recommendations on behalf of the library field.
Stay tuned for more information soon!
Library Collections Supporting Climate Action
Libraries are places where people can discover, share, and create knowledge. They are also places where the memory of the world can be accessed and explored through documentary heritage collections. Libraries that hold collections of cultural heritage can offer insight into historic trends, inform climate research, and spark imagination that leads to innovation.
IFLA’s Advisory Committee on Cultural Heritage (CCH) is interested in exploring the role of library cultural heritage collections in supporting climate change adaptation and resilience.
This was the topic of the committee’s Open Session at WLIC 2022. This session brought together speakers from IFLA, Europeana, and the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) to explore the extent to which various elements of connecting collections to climate action are understood and implemented.
Following up on this session, the CCH plans to produce a white paper in 2023. This will present a case for using library collections in climate action, identify key considerations, and discuss how this can be translated into real actions for libraries.
2023 UN Climate Change Conference (COP28)
Every year, the UN Climate Change Conference (COP) brings together policymakers, civil society representatives, activists, and other stakeholders for two weeks of intense deliberation. It sets the climate action agenda and hammers out commitments for the coming year.
IFLA was excited to join colleagues from the Climate Heritage Network in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, for COP27 in November 2022. This provided a new world of opportunities to engage with climate decisionmakers, as well as new partners eager to bring culture into the conversation.
IFLA brought two volunteers from our MENA Regional Division Committee to Sharm El-Sheikh to help bring library voices to these discussions.
Learn more about their experiences at COP27 here: Library Professionals at COP27: Reflections on attending the 2022 UN Climate Change Conference.
In November-December 2023, COP28 will be hosted in the United Arab Emirates, and will offer even more opportunities to join the conversation. This COP will especially focus on the Middle East, Asia, and Oceania, making extra effort to bring voices from these regions to the table.
In the lead-up to COP28, IFLA continues to engage with Climate Heritage Network, who are taking huge strides forward in building recognition of the arts, culture, and heritage as an invaluable resource to help communities take transformative climate action.
Learn more about the key issues Climate Heritage Network is focussing on here: Transforming Climate Action Through Culture – Key Issues.
Stay tuned for more information on ways libraries can get involved in the lead-up to COP28 over the coming months.
Share your thoughts and ideas! IFLA HQ contact: Claire McGuire (firstname.lastname@example.org)