The 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) will be hosted by the United Arab Emirates in Dubai this December. During the conference, the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will meet to discuss progress towards implementing the Convention and the Paris Agreement.

During this session of the SBI, the committee will consider progress made on the 10-year Glasgow work programme on Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE), launched in 2021 at COP26. This work programme calls for Parties to enhance action against climate change across the six ACE areas: education, training, social awareness, access to information, citizen participation and international cooperation.

Find out more about the Glasgow Work Programme on ACE, and what it means for libraries, in IFLA’s policy brief:

Libraries and the Glasgow Work Programme on Action for Climate Empowerment

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...

Libraries on the SBI Agenda

IFLA has been pursuing both high-level engagement with the Secretariat, as well as more targeted engagement with Parties, to demonstrate the role of libraries as ACE partners.

We were therefore excited to see that contributions both from IFLA and generally from the library field were included in the summary report on ACE implementation for the period September 2022 – August 2023. Read the report here.

What has IFLA done?

The role that libraries can and do play in ACE implementation is highlighted in the following passage of the report:

“The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions shed light on libraries’ unique position as public community spaces for lifelong learning, which can reach people of all demographics, champion access to information and enable public participation in climate policy and action. Since January 2022, the Federation has increased communication with its membership and network of library professionals worldwide to raise awareness of ACE, encourage greater action and advocacy in relation to ACE, and amplify action by library stakeholders at all levels to implement ACE.”

To further this recognition, IFLA has been working to foster greater engagement with the ACE Secretariat.  The report highlighted this in a summary of the 2023 ACE Dialogues, held in Bonn in June 2023. This is an important annual event that brings together representatives of relevant constituted bodies, experts, practitioners and other stakeholders to discuss ways to improve ACE activities. Read more here.

IFLA was invited to be a facilitator, and helped lead a discussion on methodologies for monitoring, evaluation and reporting of ACE activities. These reflections determined that more effort should be made to include action within local communities, combining qualitative and quantitative methods, and addressing information needs, such as gaps in access to information and data, language and technology limitations.

The report highlights that the ACE Dialogues resulted in greater recognition of the need to mainstream ACE into national climate policies and projects, including by setting action plans to allow for data collection through existing institutional structures.

What are Parties doing?

The report summarises efforts made by national governments to take ACE more seriously in their national climate strategies.

Some positive progress has been made. During the past year, 8 countries appointed ACE Focal Points for the first time, bringing the total to 139. ACE Focal Points are the key contact persons in each country for ACE activities, and are a great advocacy contact!

In general, the ACE report notes that more Parties (most of which are national governments) highlighted general principles, past achievements, future commitments, and needs and gaps in relation to ACE in their recent Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) than previously seen.

Some relevant statistics from the 2022 NDC Synthesis Report, which reviews NDCs from 193 Parties:

  • 97% of Parties report using one or more ACE elements to promote climate change mitigation and adaptation activities.
  • 45% of Parties report climate education measures such as updating formal, informal and non-formal education curricula and programmes and establishing laws and policies to ensure provision of climate education
  • 63% of Parties report efforts to raise public awareness, such as developing communication strategies, disseminating knowledge through traditional and new media, and implementing awareness-raising campaigns
  • 35% of Parties report efforts to enable public access to information, such as through developing regulations and systems to guarantee and facilitate access to climate information and data.

While this demonstrates that countries are making positive progress on recognising the role that ACE plays in climate policymaking, there are gaps that libraries could be well-placed to address.

Why this matters

Many libraries are already engaging in activities which strengthen climate  education, social awareness, access to information, and citizen participation.

In their 2022 NDC Reports, 87% of countries indicated that national institutional arrangements are a “key element of coordinating, planning and implementing climate change policy and action at the national and international level and fostering public participation”.

Through IFLA’s engagement with ACE at the international and national level (such as through the Climate Session at WLIC 2023), we have noted a gap in awareness among national ACE focal points on the role libraries can fill. Focal points have reacted enthusiastically when the potential of engaging with the library field is highlighted for them.

Efforts to formalise ACE in national climate strategies, while drawing on pre-existing institutional capacity, can lay the groundwork for greater recognition and support to enable libraries to help deliver on national goals.

IFLA is working to advocate for libraries in this space, getting our sector a seat at the table and opening up future opportunities for libraries to demonstrate their value. As a metric of success, this is the first time that libraries have been included in this way in such a report.

We will continue to push for greater recognition of libraries in the climate empowerment space, including on the ground in Dubai at COP28.

You can help!

IFLA is working with partners to include libraries in global indicators for climate communication and education. Including libraries on this platform will be hugely beneficial for helping policymakers, researchers, and other stakeholders understand and measure the impact libraries have on empowering climate action.

To develop library indicators, we need input from as many countries as possible.

We have launched surveys for library associations and individual libraries to help us collect this crucial data.  They are available in English, French, Spanish, and Chinese.

Please participate and share widely – your voice is vital!