With a meeting in Victoria Falls Town, Zimbabwe, Africa will host the first of five regional meetings focused on the Sustainable Development Goals. Across these forums, IFLA will be working to make sure that governments, UN officials, experts and civil society groups hear about how libraries and access to information can play a transformative role in the Decade of Action.

The Sustainable Development Goals offer not only a roadmap for governments, but also an opportunity for libraries to engage in decision-making about development.

With 20 references – explicitly or implicitly – to the importance of access to information and the skills to use it across the 17 goals and 169 targets, the SDGs offer a strong affirmation of the need for the work that libraries do. IFLA has placed them at the heart of its Strategy, and in particular of its work to strengthen the global voice of libraries.


Strengthening the Voice of Libraries Regionally

Through the implementation process – both the annual High-Level Political Forum and in the work that takes place at the national and regional level in between – there are many opportunities to engage.

One of these are the five regional forums on sustainable development organised by each of the UN’s regional economic and social commissions, for Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Western Asia. The first of these takes place next week, on 24-27 February, in Victoria Falls Town, Zimbabwe.

At each of these, IFLA will be either holding side events, or using other opportunities to build understanding of how libraries can make the difference.  

In particular, the regional forums also provide a chance to engage with governments doing Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) this year. These see each country make a presentation on its work to deliver on the SDGs, and should be based on discussion with a wide range of stakeholders.

IFLA is working with members in almost all countries doing VNRs, encouraging them to use tools such as the Library Map of the World and Development and Access to Information Reports to ensure that the work – and needs – of libraries are mentioned.



Libraries Transform

Another reason why 2020 offers a particular opportunity comes in the fact that rather than focusing on specific SDGs, both the High Level Political Forum and the regional forums these meetings will look at all of them.

With only ten years left to achieve the SDGs, the UN has declared that there needs to be a Decade of Action, build on transformative actions and development accelerators. This makes it possible to underline the importance of cross-cutting drivers of development such as access to information.

Thanks to the work already carried out through the Development and Access to Information Report, and the stories featured on the Library Map of the World, libraries globally already have a strong evidence base for advocacy in this area.

Good luck in your advocacy!


Follow the IFLA website for more opportunities, and contact [email protected] for more information.