The 2022 High Level Political Forum (HLPF) – the highlight of the annual calendar on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – takes place this year on 5-18 July, and libraries will be well-represented.

HLPF is an opportunity to look back and take stock of where things stand, just short of the half-way point in the delivery of the 2030 Agenda. It will also look to the future, and what can – and must – be done to make a reality of sustainable development, and provide a space to share ideas and insights.

The SDGs are of course a key reference for libraries, given their explicit references to the importance of access to information, and how well they reflect the work of institutions that meet many different needs, with a focus on engaging all members of the community.

As such, the Forum is a time to build understanding of what libraries are contributing to development, and encourage both action from politicians, and partnerships with other stakeholders, in order to allow us to go further.

In particular, we will draw on the theme of this year’s Forum: Building back better from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We will work to underline that it is when everyone is well informed that we are best able to achieve the goals, and so governments need to ensure that there are the libraries in place that make this happen.

To do this, there will be a strong library delegation, made up of representatives from around the world who have engaged strongly with their governments already around Voluntary National Reviews (see more on this below!), as well as librarians from the United States with strong SDG expertise.

Here’s an overview of things to look out for at the Forum:

Voluntary National Reviews: a major part of the event is given over to presentations and discussions of Voluntary National Review of SDG implementation. As previous IFLA analysis has shown, these are increasingly talking about libraries, underlining our status as partners for development.

More than half of the library delegation this year comes from countries undertaking VNRs, and so we’ll be working hard to ensure that the role of libraries is also discussed on the floor in HLPF sessions. There are already positive signs, with the reviews of Argentina and Latvia including major sections focused on our institutions.

Look out for: our analysis of 2022 Voluntary National Reviews and Voluntary Local Reviews.

Plenary Sessions: in addition to national reviews, there is also a full set of sessions looking at the SDGs in focus this year – 4 (quality education), 5 (gender equality), 14 (life under water), 15 (life on land), and 17 (partnerships for the goals). A number of other themes come up regularly, such as the role of science, technology and innovation, or the situation of small island developing states.

We’ll be looking to cover these, and identify key insights, as well as preparing and sharing materials to highlight the point of view of libraries, and how we can contribute in each area.

Look out for: social media during the Forum, as well as blogs on individual topics discussed. You’ll also be able to follow these live on the UN website!

Side-Events: Beyond the formal sessions, there is an extremely rich range of side-events which allow the UN, governments, and others to present ideas and hold debates around themes related to the SDGs. There really is something for everyone!

Highlights for IFLA will include the session organised by the Culture 2030 Goal campaign, focusing on how local governments are drawing on culture to boost their SDG implementation, as well as a session organised by the Latvian government on how libraries and museums are helping to create space for debate and understanding.

Almost all side-events are online this year, and so you don’t need to be in New York to attend!

Look out for: the final programme of side-events, including login details, in the coming weeks! See also the page for the Culture 2030 Goal Campaign event.

The Library Delegation!: of course a key highlight for us will be the librarians who will come to New York in order to spread the word about all we are already doing to deliver on the SDGs, and what more we can do, with the right support and conditions.

They will be engaging with governments, UN institutions and other stakeholders, making the most of the opportunity that the Forum provides to raise awareness and make connections that will facilitate the work of libraries on the ground everywhere.

Look out for: interviews with our international participants at HLPF, sharing their experiences and expectations.


We’re looking forward to a great High-Level Political Forum, with a great library team on the ground, building understanding that informed populations, enabled by libraries, are a key precondition for sustainable recovery and SDG success.