Informed and Empowered Citizens in Asia-Pacific: Making the Case for Libraries at the UN
06 April 2018
At the heart of success in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be resilience. Regions, countries, communities and individuals all need to have the resources – and the information – necessary to deal with a changing and unpredictable world. This was the key message from the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development, the second of five regional meetings on the SDGs in preparation for this year’s High Level Political Forum. IFLA was there.
The fifth Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development, held in Bangkok on 28-30 March 2018, brought together governments, international experts and civil society organisations to discuss progress on the UN’s 2030 Agenda. Elvira Lapuz, 2015-16 President of the Philippines Library and Information Association, Inc., and IFLA International Leaders Programme Associate, represented IFLA.
The 2030 Agenda, and the Sustainable Development Goals it establishes, reflect a growing understanding that for development to be inclusive and lasting, it needs to work from the bottom up. This has long been at the core of the work of libraries, which work to give communities and individuals – researchers, parents, children, all citizens – the information they need to learn, find work, innovate and stay healthy.
The event provided a great opportunity to share this message with participants, and build understanding of the need to support libraries.
In a workshop on science and technology, the IFLA representative was able to underline the importance of ensuring that this works for everyone. Knowledge and innovation should serve to empower people, benefitting everyone. It was necessary to find ways to build a bridge between the biggest science and research centres, and local communities – libraries provided an excellent way of doing this.
The Forum was also a good opportunity to build contacts. Among civil society organisations, there is a wealth of experience on how to advocate to decision-makers and other influencers such as journalists. With many government representatives present, it proved to be a chance to meet key officials involved in writing national development plans.
Finally, there was also time to meet with the library of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia-Pacific – members of the IFLA community at the heart of supporting the policy recommendations and analysis produced by the UN for the region.