The latest update on activities related to the Sustainable Development Goals from IFLA includes information on the following: IFLA SDG Update (Dec 2020): Update on 2021 VNRs, Africa Youth SDG Forum, UN Meetings in 2021, Reviewing 5 years of VNRs, Digital Inclusion, Library Map of the World, Library Stat of the Week, Delivering on the SDGs during COVID, and a list of recent blogs.

1) Update on Voluntary National Reviews in 2021

Work continues in countries which are undertaking Voluntary National Reviews this year, with welcome responses from many of those that we have contacted. If you are active in one of the countries undertaking a VNR (or know people who are), please do get in touch.

As a reminder, the following countries will undertake a Voluntary National Review (VNR) in 2021: Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bhutan, Bolivia, Cabo Verde, Chad, China, Colombia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, DPR Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Germany, Guatemala, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, Laos, Madagascar, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Myanmar, Namibia, Nicaragua, Norway, Pakistan, Paraguay, Qatar, San Marino, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay, Zimbabwe.

We have updated our Guide to the VNRs, and continue to renew our monthly ideas sheets. We will also work on new DA2I Country Analyses, and as ever, encourage the preparation of SDG Stories and data for the Library Map of the World from relevant countries to support your advocacy.


2) Africa Youth SDG Forum

IFLA was represented at the 3rd African Youth SDGs Summit, which focused on the subject of how to engage youth most effectively in securing success through engaging young people. The event offered an opportunity not just for contact-building, but also to highlight the role of information in supporting COVID response and longer-term development.


3) Wider UN Meetings in 2021

Plans are being made for major meetings at the United Nations in 2021. We have dates already for the following regional sustainable development fora:

  • Africa: 1-5 March, Republic of Congo (hybrid meeting)
  • Europe: 17-18 March, Geneva (hybrid meeting)
  • Asia-Pacific: 22-25 March, Bangkok (virtual meeting)

Dates remain to be set for the other two planned meetings:

  • Western Asia and North Africa: March (virtual meeting)
  • Latin America and the Caribbean: April (virtual meeting)

We will be in touch in due course around opportunities for engagement.

Meanwhile, the Commission on Social Development will meet on 8-17 February (virtually), focusing on the role of digital technologies on social development. IFLA has submitted a statement on the subject, and will continue to look for ways to engage.


4) Reviewing Five Years of VNRs

2021 will be the sixth year in which UN Member States have prepared and presented Voluntary National Reviews. Following our brief analysis of the 2020 reports, we have now carried out a study of all of the reports that have been submitted so far – 199 in total – between 2016 and 2020.

This finds 41 reports, from 37 countries, which have referred to libraries in one way or another, with the vast majority highlighting the positive contribution that libraries, and library associations are making to SDG success. Others focus more on concerns about the lack of libraries, for example in schools. At least in recent years, this represents about a quarter of the total in each year, a figure which of course we hope to increase. Read more in our news story, with a link to the full study.


5) Library Pledge for Digital Inclusion

Thanks to all who signed onto the Library Pledge for Digital Inclusion – we have received 587 signatures so far who agreed to their name, or that of their institution or association, posted on the website. We highlighted heavily the number of signatories during our participation at the Internet Governance Forum (see our news stories here and here), and will continue to follow up with contacts and stakeholders to promote this work.

In particular, we have also published a draft version of the second part of our study on libraries in national broadband strategies. This aims both to provide examples of how libraries can be involved in strategies, in order to support libraries and associations in their advocacy for inclusion (and support), as well as to offer lessons about how to make these strategies most effective. See also our new infographic on reasons why public access in libraries matters for people.


6) Library Map of the World

There is new and updated data on the Library Map of the World that we hope will help you in your advocacy. This includes a new story from Colombia focused on environmental education (SDG13).


7) Library Stat of the Week

Recent posts have drawn both on Library Map of the World data and figures from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Programme for International Student Assessment about the use that 15-year olds make of libraries, and how these relate to other metrics.

Our most recent posts highlight on:


8) Delivering on the SDGs During COVID-19

We have published a post looking at examples of how libraries are delivering on all of the SDGs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Drawing on the examples collected on IFLA’s Libraries and COVID-19 page, this provides examples for each of the SDGs, underlining our institutions’ ongoing importance.


9) Other Blogs

We marked International Children’s Day with a post focusing on the importance of ensuring all children enjoy access to information (SDG4), another looking at the role of libraries in tackling intolerance (SDG16), on libraries and communities (SDG11), on libraries as part of the connectivity infrastructure (SDG9), and on the idea of treating information like a utility (SDG16), in the context of work to re-evaluate the UN Development Programme’s Human Development Index.                                        

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. For example, we have published an interview with colleagues from Chile about work around access to information for health, and on a call to action by African libraries.

So don’t hesitate to let us know!