As we enter 2024, we’re happy to share the latest edition of our regular forward look into key dates and events in the next few months for library advocacy. These are opportunities to get involved in wider conversations, and underline how essential libraries are for success across the full range of development goals. Take a look through, and think where you want and could be able to get involved! 

IFLA’s advocacy work is about making sure that it’s not just libraries themselves that understand our potential to make a difference, but everyone.  

In order to continue to receive support for our work, we need to be able to show how and why what we do matters. And our future is more secure if there is a wide understanding, across government and society as a whole, of the importance of libraries.  

A good way of doing this is by making sure that we are part of the conversation – joining events and observances on a wide variety of issues. Through this, we can get people to think differently about libraries, and build understanding and support. 

This article sets out just some of the key dates coming up in the next half year or so. You can use it in in your own planning – from making social media posts or writing blogs to attending events – use your imagination! 

Good luck! 


24 Jan – International Day of Education: the theme of this year’s day is ‘learning for lasting peace’, responding to an alarming rise in discrimination and hate, and underlining the role of education in overcoming this. It uses UNESCO’s Recommendation on Education for Peace, Human Rights and Sustainable Development as a starting point, and aims to draw attention to the role of education and educators. Take a look at our briefing on Libraries and Education for Sustainable Development for ideas on how libraries contribute! 

30 Jan – ECOSOC Partnership Forum: the first major event of the SDGs year is the Partnership Forum, focused on sharing ideas between stakeholders on the key themes and discussions to be had in the year ahead. Under the same theme as the High-Level Political Forum (see below), it will look in particular at what can be achieved by different actors working together. Online participation is possible, so find out more here! 

5-6 Feb – UNESCO Global Forum on the Ethics of AI: High-level decision makers, industry leaders, representatives of scientific and research institutions, and non-government organizations will share their insights and good practices about governance of AI at global, regional and national levels. 

6 Feb – Safer Internet Day: Promotes a safer and more responsible use of online technology by children and young people around the world. Opportunity to build on the survey done by the children and young adults section and. This year’s theme is focused on making a difference, managing influence and navigating change online. 

11 Feb – International Day of Women and Girls in Science: this annual celebration focuses on the need to ensure equality within the science and research field, and the positive impact this will have on wider scientific progress. It is typically marked with an event at the UN, and can be an opportunity both to look at equity within the library field, and at how libraries can support girls and women to succeed in the field.  

13-15 Feb – World Conference on Culture and Arts Education: Culture and Education Ministers from around the world will come together in Abu Dhabi with the goal of adopting a Framework for Culture and Arts Education. IFLA was closely involved in the consultation process during 2023, and the current draft makes historic progress in recognising libraries and calling on States to broaden their concept of learning environments by establishing more sustained cooperation with libraries. This is a good opportunity to highlight what your library is doing to support culture and arts education with your National Commission to UNESCO.  

20 Feb – World Day of Social Justice: this day focuses on the importance of delivering equity and fairness for all, in particular in labour markets. Work is led by the International Labour Organization, as well as the Department for Economic and Social Affairs at the UN. The theme of the 2024 edition has yet to be announced, but it is likely to focus on how to build the structures and systems necessary for equality and equity. For libraries, it is a chance to underline how we help bridge divides and help ensure that everyone can fulfil their potential and enjoy their rights.  

20 February – Regional Sustainable Development Fora: the first of five Regional Sustainable Development Fora will be in Bangkok, for the Asia-Paciific region, on 20-23 February. These will review progress towards the SDGs, provide a space for countries undertaking Voluntary National Reviews in 2024 to share experience, and provide a space for consultation about the UN’s Summit of the Future. Others are taking place in Western Asia (5-7 March), Europe (13-14 March), Latin America and the Caribbean (15-19 April) and Africa (23-25 April). We are looking to be represented and hold events at these events to highlight the relevance of libraries’ work. 

21 Feb – International Mother Language Day: led by UNESCO in particular, this day emphasises the value of safeguarding and promoting multilingualism as a means of accelerating delivery of the SDGs. For libraries, it is a chance to underline the value of our local language collections, and in particular how we can be key repositories of content in different languages, as a basis for education, research and the fulfilment of cultural rights.  

26 Feb – 1 Mar – Fair Use/Fair Dealing Week: while this is not an official UN celebration in any way, it is a chance to highlight the benefits that a more flexible copyright framework can bring to libraires in their work to fulfil their missions. Expect blogs, events and materials underline what libraries in fair use/fair dealing countries can do – see more on the website. 

8 Mar – International Women’s Day: the theme this year is ‘Invest in women, accelerate progress’, reflecting the serious gap in spending to allow for gender equality, calculated at $360bn by 2030. Areas for action include investing in women as a human rights issue, ending poverty, implementing gender-responsive financing, shifting to a green economy and caring society, and supporting feminist change-makers. For libraries, this is a chance to underline how supporting well designed library services represents an investment in women, in particular in communities where they may not benefit fairly from other services and opportunities.  

20 Mar – World French Language Day: this is one of the six days focused on the UN’s official languages, and is also the International Day of French-Speaking Countries (Journée internationale de la Francophonie).  

2 Apr – International Fact-checking Day: Good moment to promote a healthy information ecosystem and to reaffirm the role that libraries play in addressing access to information, disinformation and in arming citizens with tools that allow them to access reliable information online. 

7 Apr – World Health Day: information is a key part of any global effort to promote healthy lives and societies, enabling people to make better decisions for themselves and families, as well as to change behaviours. This goes from treating existing illnesses and ensuring healthier living in the case of individuals to supporting the work of doctors and epidemiological management.  While the theme of this year’s day has yet to be chosen, we know that libraries can have a key role to play in all of these areas, and we’re looking forward to promoting work on the right to health information this year.  

15-19 Apr – World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR): with a focus on discussions on next steps around an action plan on exceptions and limitations, long-overdue work on a toolkit on access to library, archive and museum collections, and an online workshop on cross-border issues faced in research and education, there is plenty going on around WIPO. We welcome any mobilisation by library associations, libraries and library and information workers to underline that we need progress at the international level to provide an impulse for better suited copyright systems for libraries and our users. Watch our website for more! 

15-19 Apr – 27th session CSTD – Subsidiary body of ECOSOC. Annual intergovernmental forum for discussion on timely and pertinent issues affecting science, technology and development.
CSTD is also one of the co-facilitators for the WSIS+20 process.
The first draft of the synthesis report obtained from past WSIS+20 consultations will be made available during this event. 

20 Apr – World Chinese Language Day: Like French Language Day above, this serves to celebrate another one of the UN’s official languages, Chinese. The day is related to Cangije, the ‘ancestor of Chinese characters’.   

21 Apr – World Creativity and Innovation Day, 23 Apr – World Book and Copyright Day, 26 Apr – World Intellectual Property (IP) Day: this series of events, organised by the UN, the World Intellectual Property Organization and UNESCO, are great opportunities for libraries to celebrate their work both in safeguarding existing creativity, and in enabling that of the future. The first looks at how creativity and innovation can help address major policy challenges, while the second will see Strasbourg take up the role of World Book Capital (the theme of the day has yet to be decided). Finally, World Intellectual Property (IP) Day is focused on IP and the SDGs, offering a chance to underline how libraries engagement with the SDGs is enabled by copyright frameworks that allow us to fulfil our missions.  

23 Apr – World English and Spanish Language Days – Marking the anniversaries of the deaths of William Shakespeare and Miguel Cervantes, these, like French Language Day, are part of a wider effort to promote multilingualism. They are a chance to underline how libraries support the spread and richness of languages, and the preservation of expression.   

3 May – World Press Freedom Day: press freedom is a key component of freedom of expression and access to information that is so essential for libraries. The theme for 2024 is Press for the Planet: Journalism in the face of the Environmental Crisis. One of this year’s objectives is to encourage stronger policies and cooperation at all levels in support of memory institutions, like libraries and archives, in their critical role as custodians of primary sources on environmental information for journalistic practice. In light of IFLA’s work on climate empowerment, this is a powerful impact area to explore further.  

9-10 May – Multistakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the SDGs: part of the preparations for the High-Level Political Forum, this is a chance both to look at the state of research and innovation for development, and what can be done to enhance its positive impact. For libraries, as the backbone of research systems, we have much to contribute, and much to say, in particular about the need to promote open science. Remote participation is possible, see here for more. 

17 May – World Telecoms and Information Society Day:  while the main focus is likely to be on the WSIS+20 event just over a week later, this day will provide an opportunity both to highlight the contribution that connectivity can make to development, and what needs to be done to realise its potential for all. The International Telecommunications Union typically oversees celebrations. It is an opportunity for libraries to underline the key role they have not just in providing connectivity, but in helping ensure that it turns into real-world outcomes. 

21 May – World Day for Cultural Diversity: with momentum building around culture for development, and looking ahead to a potential inclusion of culture in the Pact for the Future, there is an opportunity not just to reaffirm the role of culture in driving development, but also to underline how culture and cultural diversity are valuable goals in their own right. Libraries, with a mission to provide communities with access to a wide range of materials, make a big contribution to both. 

27-31 May – World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS+20) Forum: this is a big year for the World Summit on the Information Society, coming around the time of the 20th anniversary of the first meetings in 2003-05. As such, this year’s Forum will provide a platform for taking stock of achievements, trends, challenges and opportunities. The Forum will be the occasion for the launch of IFLA’s revised Internet Manifesto, which is intended to underline the breadth and depth of libraries’ potential contribution to a healthy digital information environment. Follow work on the Manifesto revision here. 

27-30 May: 4th International Conference on Small Island Developing States: the latest in a series of once-in-a-decade conferences, this event is an opportunity to highlight the specific challenges faced by Small Island Developing States (SIDS), and the progress made by existing programmes to address them. It will also see the agreement of a new ten-year programme of work focused on these countries. IFLA will be working with members in these countries to contribute to this work.  

30-31 May – AI for good Global Summit: The AI for Good Global Summit is the leading action-oriented United Nations platform promoting AI to advance health, climate, gender, inclusive prosperity, sustainable infrastructure, and other global development priorities. AI for Good is organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) – the UN specialized agency for information and communication technology – in partnership with 40 UN sister agencies and co-convened with the government of Switzerland. 

3-13 Jun – Bonn Climate Change Conference and ACE Dialogues: As a halfway point between COPs, Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change will meet to discuss implementation of the convention and set the agenda for COP29. This will also be the occasion of the third annual Action for Climate Empowerment dialogues, and a good opportunity to reach out to your ACE Focal Point and share how libraries help enable climate action. 

5 June – World Environment Day: this year, IFLA will look to deepen further our engagement with the Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in November, as well as work with the global network of climate empowerment leads to mobilise (and seek recognition and support for) libraries to help build climate action at the level of individuals and communities. World Environment Day is a great opportunity to underline this work. 

6 June – Russian Language Day: see above for other such days – this focuses on Russian, one of the UN’s six official languages. As with the others, it is an opportunity to underline the role of libraries in preservation and enabling exchange.  

18 June: International Day for Countering Hate Speech: a relatively new observance, this nonetheless is a relevant one in the context of wider shifts in the way that flows of information are governed online and beyond today. Finding ways to act against this, without restricting legitimate expression, and at the same time working to build a positive agenda for a healthy information environment, are key priorities. Commemorations around this day are likely to be an important opportunity to set out how libraries can contribute.  

20 Jun – World Refugee Day: conflict, climate change, and many other factors continue to combine to push people to leave their homes, often at the risk of hardship and danger. Libraries have a key role in helping displaced persons find comfort, seize opportunities, and stay in touch with loved ones. While the theme of this year’s celebrations is still to be announced, we are looking forward in particular to new guidelines on library services to refugees – watch this space! 

23 June – United Nations Public Service Day: this day is the occasion for awarding UN Public Service Awards, which recognise the role of public servants in making positive change happen. With libraries already having been recognised through an award for the Ghana Library Authority, it is clear that our institutions and those who work in them are within scope. As such, the day as a whole is an opportunity to highlight libraries’ place as part of wider public services, contributing alongside others to delivering development. 

30 June – International Day of Parliamentarism: celebrating the anniversary of the creation of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, this day looks to celebrate the role of parliamentary democracy in supporting democratic engagement, trust, and good governance. It also offers a chance to address questions around populism, nationalism and authoritarianism. With the key role of libraries in enabling members of parliament to do their jobs, it is also a day to highlight how information makes representative democracy effective. 

8-17 July – High Level Political Forum: the main annual UN event on the Sustainable Development Goals is both a great opportunity to celebrate progress and learning about development, and a chance to urge greater progress. This year’s theme is Reinforcing the 2030 Agenda and eradicating poverty in times of multiple crises: the effective delivery of sustainable, resilient and innovative solutions. As usual, we will be looking to engage closely in this, both as a means of building connections with national development authorities through Voluntary National Reviews, and to make the case more broadly for libraries, especially as we look forward to the Summit of the Future. 

15 July – World Youth Skills Day: tying in closely with efforts to address the ‘crisis of relevance’ highlighted in the UN’s ongoing work on Transforming Education, this day underlines the need to invest in training for young people, and the results this can bring. Given the role of libraries as venues for, or portals towards, training opportunities, there is scope to use the day to underline this element of libraries’ contribution. 

9 Aug – International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples: marking the date of the first meeting of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations in 1982, this day focuses on highlighting the cultural and other richness, but also the particular challenges faced by indigenous people around the world. There is not yet a theme for this year’s day, but it will be an opportunity to highlight libraries’ role in particular in promoting and protecting indigenous languages, which represent a large share of the total number of languages worldwide.