Information Sustainability: Interview with Genilson Geraldo, Brazil
20 January 2021
Throughout its advocacy around the Sustainable Development Goals, IFLA underlines the importance of information – and libraries as the institutions that provide meaningful access to it – in driving progress. We interviewed Genilson Geraldo, Federal University of Santa Catarina, to find out about work in Brazil to build understanding of the interaction between information and development.
1) How would you define the concept of information sustainability?
The term “Informational Sustainability” is still under construction, but we can see it as a way for Information Science to provide informational support for global environmental and socioeconomic objectives. In other words, it refers to information resources that facilitate the integration and awareness of, and participation in, efforts to strengthen the process of society’s transformation, according to the dimensions of sustainable development: environmental, economic and social.
2) For you, what is the role of information in changing behavior among individuals?
The role of information in changing behaviour among individuals and the collective has always been present in the daily lives of humanity. We use, search and produce information on a daily basis, which makes it a fundamental element to guide people, organizations and governments. Thus, the access and use of information directly influences behavior among individuals, either through access to reliable information, or even by sharing disinformation. In this scenario, professionals who work directly with information, such as librarians, have great responsibility in the challenges that humanity currently faces, in the face of the phenomenon of the dissemination of disinformation and the post-truth.
This way, access to information in society becomes important for transformation, awareness, monitoring and education in all aspects of humanity. Directly and indirectly influencing improvement of lives, opportunities for access to new knowledge bring a perspective of significant advances, offering encouragement for constant learning and change.
3) What impact can this have on our ability to achieve the SDGs?
This perspective on the use and access of information as a stimulus for the improvement of, and learning in, society, as well as for transformation, awareness, and mobilization for global environmental, social and economical objectives, directly impacts the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations 2030 Agenda.
In order to mobilize and realize the potential of society, organizations and governments to support the SDGs, it is necessary and essential to use and access information as a key element for the implementation and achievement of these objectives. In this perspective, it can be seen that information professionals, in our specific case librarians, in line with the responsibility assumed by IFLA with the 2030 Agenda, face the challenge of giving visibility to the work of their institutions, and assuming their share of commitment to future generations.
Finally, access to information disseminated with precision by the competent channels is what will make it possible to drive the transformation of society directly and indirectly to improve the quality of life, providing significant advances for individual and collective perspectives, offering the stimulus for constant learning and change.
4) What about the impact of information – in particular reporting and transparency obligations – on companies and governments?
We are experiencing a historic era through news in the press and television media and on social networks, with demonstrations by society protesting against administrative acts considered as non-legal or abusive by some public managers.
Consequently, important actions for strengthening democracy and safeguarding citizenship are urgent, such as the implementation of public transparency and fiscal responsibility laws. These allow society access to government acts, demonstrating the expenses disbursed by the public sector, as well as the performance of environmental, social and economic management, through government reports.
In particular, it is necessary for the population to know the budget and expenses at the federal, state and municipal levels, as well as in public policy projects that include the dimensions of Sustainable Development (social, economical and environmental).
These reports and the provision of access to transparent, validated and reliable governmental information directly impact the power citizens have in the form of knowledge, and consequently make it possible to carry out an assessment of those in government.
5) How do libraries fit into this?
Libraries, as bodies that provide access to and use of information in a safe, inclusive, reliable and accessible way, have the potential to make public access to governmental information a reality, either directly through their own collections or by helping citizens in the search for public information.
In this perspective, access to information is seen as a fundamental way for the citizen to become an active agent and disseminator of this process. In other words, access to government information, through libraries, can provide information reliability and, consequently, enable the elaboration, implementation and evaluation of government public policies, aiming at the effectiveness and efficiency of such policies. Libraries are significant spaces for social inclusion and transformation, as well as being essential in guaranteeing the full exercise of the rights of individuals within society.
6) What are the goals of the Information Sustainability programme that you are running?
The Informational Sustainability project is part of a scientific research project of the Graduate Program in Information Science at the Federal University of Santa Catarina (PGCIN-UFSC, acronym in Portuguese), coordinated by Professor Marli Dias de Souza Pinto.
This project, which started in 2018, entitled “UN 2030 Agenda in the IFLA / Federation of Brazilian Library Associations (FEBAB) vision: Advocacy with libraries and librarians”, develops articles in scientific journals in the area in the national and international scene on the subject, as well as producing content in social media, to publicize the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda of the United Nations (UN), across the library and information field. It draws on the work of the International Advocacy Program (IAP) of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA).
With this, in 2018, a feed was created on the social media Instagram, @sustentabilidadeinformacional, publishing daily posts on the theme of sustainability, with a central focus on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN 2030 Agenda.
In 2020, this profile accelerated the dissemination of sustainable information by promoting videos on the SDGs, with special guests such as the current IFLA president, Ms. Christine Mackenzie, Dr. Victoria Okojie from the University of Abuja (Nigeria), Dr. Christine Meschede from the University of Düssendorf (Germany), and Dr. Jorge do Prado, current president of the Brazilian Federation of Library Associations (FEBAB, acronym in portuguese) among others. In other words, the objective of the “Informational Sustainability” profile on social media is to provide sustainable information, specifically, aimed at informing, raising awareness and transforming followers.
This profile completed a year on Instagram in August 2020, with an average of more than 5,000 followers engaged in the cause of sustainability, sustainable development and global goals. The publications are daily and diverse, exploring the universe of sustainability, seeking to point out the importance of the quality of human life on a sustainable planet, in an inclusive way and with equal rights for all.
7) What sort of activities are you carrying out? What are your plans for 2021?
As previously mentioned, the objective of the @sustentabilidadeinformacional feed is to raise awareness, sensitize and mobilize followers on global causes in the environmental, economic and social dimensions of Sustainable Development.
This year, we will continue with the work of disseminating informational posts on the theme and continue the series of videos on the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, with more special guests. However, the research project is not just a virtual thing! In 2020, in the postgraduate course in Information Science at the Federal University of Santa Catarina (Brazil), the discipline “Informational Sustainability” was taught by professor Marli Dias de Souza Pinto for master’s and doctoral students. This will be offered again in 2021.
Also, in 2021, face-to-face actions will be carried out in undergraduate librarianship courses in the State of Santa Catarina (southern region of Brazil), in partnership with the Catarinense Association of Librarians (ACB, acronym in Portuguese), in order to mobilize students and the entire librarian category of the State to join IFLA’s International Advocacy Program on the UN 2030 Agenda.
8) How do you see IFLA helping in this?
The research project we carried out had its genesis in 2016, with Professor Marli Dias de Souza Pinto carrying out a project on sustainability in libraries. In the same year, IFLA started its work to promote actions on the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs at a global level and. In the Brazilian context, FEBAB promoted a national congress whose main theme was the 2030 Agenda.
With this, our project expanded its scientific actions on this topic. And, continuing this, in 2018, Professor Marli Dias, when creating a new research project, focused scientific studies and practical and informational actions directly on the International Advocacy Program (IAP), promoted by IFLA.
In this context, IFLA is the main informational driver for all the work we are doing. It provides all informational support for carrying out our scientific and practical activities. It also provided me with the fantastic experience and opportunity to represent IFLA at the 58th session of the UN Social Development Commission, in February 2020, at the UN headquarters in New York.
It was a unique experience to be present at an event of international importance at the United Nations headquarters, with 10 days of immersion in this universe, in addition to being a satisfaction and the fulfilment of a great dream. It was also an opportunity to meet other people interested in related areas, exchange contacts and update information and data.
9) What recommendations would you share for libraries in other countries?
Together we can dedicate our efforts, as library professionals, to carry out social and informational actions, whether in our libraries, information units, documentation and information centres, in scientific studies or on social networks, with the aim of informing, raising awareness, and mobilizing people in searching a dignified, humanized, inclusive and plural life. We can embrace the actions promoted by our International Federation to achieve the 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and thus, contribute to build a better life for all people, everywhere, today and for future generations, without leaving anyone behind.
Genilson Geraldo has a batchelors in Library Science from the Federal University of Santa Catarina. He is specialized in Legal Document Management, and acted as representative of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) at the 58th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Social Development. He is the creator and content manager of the @sustentabilidadeinformacional feed on Instagram. He is currently a Master’s student of Information Science in the Graduate Program in Information Science by the Federal University of Santa Catarina-UFSC. Research lines: Sustainability; Sustainable Development; Informational Sustainability; Legal Information; Information management; Sustainable Development Goals; Green Marketing; Informational Quality in Sustainability reports.
YouTube: Sustentabilidade Informacional