This update on libraries and the SDGs includes information on: the 2021 VNRs, the Regional SDG Fora and other UN meetings, the SDG Advocacy Toolkit, IFLA’s Library Map of the World and Stat of the Week, Education for Sustainable Development, Library Advocate Personality Test, the SDG book club, and other useful IFLA and external tools.

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.

If you are engaged in work around the VNRs, you may want to consider cooperating with the local members of some of IFLA’s partners in the Culture2030Goal campaign, such as organisations of local governments, music organisations, or coalitions for cultural diversity. See here for more details.

2) Regional Sustainable Development Fora

We are already into the 2021 series of regional sustainable development fora, organised by the United Nations’ Regional Commissions. The African session has already taken place, with IFLA represented by Damilare Oyedele – you can read the report of the side-event on the IFLA website.

IFLA also has side-events planned for the European Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (12 March, 12:15-13:45 Geneva time – more information here), and at the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (23 March, 8:15 – 9:45, Bangkok time – more information here).

Find out more about the regional sustainable development fora happening in your regions, and possibilities to join or to watch live:

3) Wider UN Meetings in 2021

We are well into the calendar of UN meetings for the year, but the below may be interesting for your planning. These can be opportunities to engage with local UN offices or representations, as well as to participate in online activities. Highlights include:

4) Updated Toolkit for SDG Advocacy

We have updated our toolkit for advocacy around the SDGs. This has now been reorganised around different capacities that are involved in effective advocacy, with different activities suggested in order to help develop connections, materials, and organisation. We welcome feedback on the new Guide, and of course earlier editions are still available.

To note, you can now find the full slide-show for IFLA’s International Advocacy Programme training on the IFLA website.

5) 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), and from Kazakhstan focused on gender equality (SDG 5).

You can also find a recording of a webinar about using the Library Map of the World for advocacy, and our blog about how Library Map of the World data can be used as SDG indicators.

6) Library Stat of the Week

We finished off the year with posts drawing on Library Map of the World data and data on cultural spending and activities, as well as IFLA’s own data about Marrakesh Treaty implementation. In particular, we showed that:

7) UNESCO Japan Prize for Education for Sustainable Development

Have you been active in promoting the SDGs and the ideas they promote? You may be interested in coming forwards for the UNESCO-Japan Prize for Education for Sustainable Development. You can find more information on the website. The deadline is 30 April 2021.

8) What’s Your Library Advocate Personality?

In line with the message from IFLA’s Global Vision that every librarian should be an advocate – as well as our 10-Minute Library Advocate series – we have worked with WebJunction to develop materials to help people across the field identify what kind of library advocate personality they have. The goal is both to underline that everyone has it in them to contribute to a library advocacy campaign, and to identify what they can bring.

From our page, you can access the blog on the OCLC Web Junction site, as well as a link to a simple, and a more complex version of the library advocate personality test. Give it a go!  

9) Useful External Tools

A couple of useful sets of tools may help you in your advocacy, as well as to identify partners. First of all, the TAP (Transparency, Accountability and Participation) Network SDG 16 Advocacy Toolkit offers useful tools for identifying priorities, defining messages and organising campaigns around SDG16 (peace, justice and strong institutions).

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has prepared background papers, based on the documentation it collects, for the countries undertaking Voluntary National Reviews this year.

10) 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 SDG12, with goals 13-17 to come in the next few months. Look around the site for resources about how to set up your own SDG Book Club.

11) Other Publications

You may also find a number of recent IFLA publications interesting or relevant. We have released a statement on libraries and open and good governance (SDG16), as well as a briefing on how to get involved in the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of Diverse Cultural Expressions (SDG11)

These include our submission to the Human Rights Council on the right to development, an article sharing examples of how libraries contribute to open data (SDG16) and in supporting access to public information (also SDG16), and a report on how libraries feature in official digital skills strategies (SDGs 5, 9 and 17). Our post for International Women’s Day also underlined the work of libraries to help bridge the digital gender divide (SDG5).

We have also blogged about education for International Education Day (SDG4), and about the different things we mean when we talk about access to information (SDG16).

Furthermore, we have also published interviews with two former IFLA Presidents – Claudia Lux and Glòria Pérez-Salmerón, about their experiences of advocating for libraries after the 2008 financial crisis, and with Steen Bording Andersen about the value of engaging politicians in library advocacy.

We were also happy to interview Evi Tramantza of OCLC’s Global Council about their work on the SDGs, Genilson Geraldo about work in Brazil in Information Sustainability, and ALA’s Serving Refugees, Immigrants and Displaced Persons Sub-Committee.

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.

So don’t hesitate to let us know!