Engaging around the Sustainable Development Goals represents a powerful way both of thinking through how libraries contribute to achieving policy goals, and building up networks and recognition by governments. 

We’ve brought together information about what’s going on around the Untied Nations 2030 Agenda at the moment, as well as relevant materials produced by IFLA. Take a look through for more!


1) High Level Political Forum 2022

This year’s UN High-Level Political Forum will take place on 5-7 and 11-15 July 2022 in New York, under the theme “Building back better from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. As usual, it will be an opportunity both to understand what the priorities of the UN, governments and other key stakeholders are, and to work to place libraries and their work on the agenda.

We will share more information about HLPF as it emerges, including about opportunities to engage. Read on for a number of possibilities that are already open!


2) Voluntary National Reviews 2022

We have re-contacted people in all of the countries which are planning to carry out a Voluntary National Review in 2022, and are already hearing great stories about new contacts made with governments, and evidence presented about why libraries need to be at the heart of SDG delivery.

The next few months will be crucial for this process, with key meetings and consultations taking place ahead of a deadline to submit main messages to the UN on 3 May, and a deadline for full reports on 17 June 2022. To support engagement, we have updated our Guide to the VNRs, and renewed all of our month-by-month set of steps on engagement.

In particular, you may be interested in a set of webinars coming up about VNRs, organised by civil society groups at the United Nations:

  • 31 Jan- English 9am NY Register here:
  • 1 Feb- Spanish 9am NY Register here
  • 2 Feb- French 9am NY Register here


3) ECOSOC Partnership Forum, 2 February 2022

There is an early opportunity to listen in to the key discussions in 2022 about sustainable development, with the ECOSOC Partnership Forum held virtually on 2 February on the same theme as the High Level Political Forum (see above). It is an opportunity for governments and multiple stakeholders to exchange new ideas, recommendations and priorities for the upcoming work of the ECOSOC and the UN high-level political forum on sustainable development (HLPF), and shine a spotlight on forward-looking actions and partnerships that promote a sustainable recovery from the pandemic and accelerate progress towards the SDGs.

You can register to participate in the event, and use participation as an opportunity to ask questions and make comments that highlight the role of libraries in supporting sustainable development


4) Regional Sustainable Development Fora 2022

As in previous years, there will be five regional sustainable development fora in 2022, aimed both at providing an opportunity to focus on regional efforts and priorities for achieving the 2030 Agenda, and preparing inputs for the High Level Political Forum. These are planned for the below dates and places (although there is still the possibility that these will go hybrid or virtual):

Africa: 3-5 March, Kigali (link)

Latin America and the Caribbean, 7-9 March, Costa Rica (website unclear)

Western Asia (Middle East and North Africa), Beirut, 15-17 March (link)

Asia-Pacific, 28-31 March (link)

Europe, 6-7 April, Geneva (link)

IFLA is working through its Regional Division Committees to prepare side-event bids and potential participation, online or in person depending on circumstances. If you are based in or near a place where a forum is happening, you may also want to think about attending, both as a learning experience, and an opportunity to talk about libraries. If you do plan to attend, let us know!


5) #Culture2030Goal Campaign

IFLA is a founding member of the Culture2030Goal campaign, which works to promote the integration of culture – including cultural institutions, actors and factors – into SDG implementation, as well as fuller recognition of culture in the post-2030 agenda. It emphasises strongly the notion that culture is the fourth pillar of sustainable development.

The campaign has, in particular, recently launched its report on culture in Voluntary Local Reviews. These include lots of good examples of local and regional authorities looking to make the most of culture, and in particular of libraries, in achieving sustainable development objectives. Do take a look, and draw on it in advocating with town halls and regional governments for stronger inclusion of culture.

In addition, the campaign is still welcoming supporters – both individuals and institutions – who will be kept informed about the campaign’s activities, and opportunities to join in actions to make the case for culture. If you are interested, do sign up!


6) World Urban Forum

We are looking forward to the World Urban Forum, due to be held in Katowice, Poland, on 26-30 June. This is a very interesting forum for library advocacy, given both that local governments in general are more attuned to the role and potential of libraries than others, and that they also tend to have responsibility for policy areas where public libraries in particular are strong, such as lifelong learning and culture. As IFLA’s own work has shown, a much higher proportion of voluntary local reviews refer to libraries than voluntary national reviews.

We are currently working with contacts in Katowice to explore options for maximising library presence there, but welcome expressions of interest in taking part.


7) Engaging with the SDGs

We are looking to update the set of resources created by library associations around the world focused on the SDGs. These can range from dedicated websites to simpler communications tools, aimed at raising awareness of the 2030 Agenda and why this matters for libraries. We would also be keen to include examples of how library associations in particular are making the SDGs part of their own strategic planning, with good examples for instance already available for Europe on the EBLIDA website.

Do share your examples with us!


8) Other upcoming UN meetings and advocacy opportunities

There are still a number of key UN meetings for the rest of this year, and the first few months of 2022. These can be opportunities to engage with local UN offices or representations, as well as to participate in online activities. Take a look at our upcoming advocacy opportunities blog for more.


9) SDG Book Club

IFLA is one of the organisations involved in the SDG Book Club, which works to identify examples of books for 6-12 year olds, in all United Nations languages, which can help young people to learn about the issues covered by the SDGs.

The Club is now up to SDG15, with goals 16-17 to come in the next few months. Look around the site for resources about how to set up your own SDG Book Club.


10) Key UN publications

We’ve recently published briefings on recent (and one less recent) UN publications which can be helpful reference points for library advocacy:

Our Common Agenda is the UN Secretary-General’s response to the declaration made by Member States for the United Nations’ 75th anniversary in 2020. It identifies key areas where more work is needed in order to make it possible to achieve the SDGs and lay the foundations for a stronger, fairer, greener future. Its focus on combatting the infodemic and supporting lifelong learning are particularly interesting for libraries. Read our briefing for more. See also our blog highlighting key takeaways.

The Futures of Education is the report of a high-level group convened by UNESCO to look at how education will need to look in the future in order to support wider development goals, and in turn, how to deliver this. It contains not only references to the importance of working with libraries, but also stresses the need for a deeper and more active engagement with knowledge – something that libraries are particularly well placed to deliver. Read our briefing for more.

The SAMOA Pathway is the equivalent of the 2030 Agenda for Small Island Developing States. It establishes a range of policy areas where action will be needed if the unique challenges faced by countries in this situation are to be addressed and overcome, and their potential, and that of all their people, realised. It includes recommendations around education, research and the gathering and sharing of information which are well suited for library action. Read our briefing for more.


11) Other Blogs and Materials

Since the last update, we have published blogs focusing on child poverty (SDG 1), promoting the creative economy (SDG 8), solidarity (SDG 10), and safeguarding cultural heritage (SDG 11). See in particular posts around climate issues (SDG 13) – about encouraging climate action through libraries, and examples from Germany and Spain.

We’ve also shared examples of how libraries and librarians are working with the SDGs, including in Georgia, and with Nathalice Cardoso, a Brazilian librarian who has done some very interesting work in Germany. Look out for a great interview with Jamaican librarians shortly about the close work between the agency leading Jamaica’s Voluntary National Review, and libraries.

Finally, you may also be interested in analysis of the results of our Regional Advocacy Priorities Study: part 1 and part 2.


As ever, we are keen to hear about what you are doing, including your successes in building contacts and awareness, and ensuring that the role of libraries is recognised, celebrated and supported!