As the urgency of action to deliver on the SDGs grows, the need to draw on the potential of knowledge, culture and libraries becomes more and more important. The IFLA delegation at this year’s High-Level Political Forum will be making the case, through their engagement in meetings, events and webinars.

The High-Level Political Forum takes place over two weeks at the Headquarters of the United Nations in New York. Enabled by a grant from Stichting IFLA Global Libraries, IFLA’s delegation will be made up of colleagues from South Africa, Namibia, Oman, Georgia, Argentina and the United States.

This participation is a unique opportunity for library representatives to engage with their own national delegations, as well as to engage with government officials, UN agencies and other stakeholders around the world.

Information, Knowledge and Culture Matter

Building on the experience of previous years, we are aiming to ensure that other delegates go away from the Forum with a new impression of what libraries are and can do, and ready to build new partnerships with our institutions and profession.

This is a promising time for the message that we are hoping to bring. The UN’s work around information integrity has highlighted that universal access to accurate, reliable and verifiable information is necessary if we want to achieve a wide range of other goals.

Elsewhere, the need for better knowledge management in the UN and government is central to work around the UN 2.0 Agenda, while the upcoming Pact for the Future includes an entire chapter focused on the importance of science, technology and innovation. In these, the importance of supporting the generation of new knowledge – and its use to improve policies and lives – is central.

Finally, we have seen a very positive step in the inclusion of a whole action on culture in the latest draft of the Pact for the Future, a landmark UN document to be agreed and released at the Summit of the Future in September.

A positive, pragmatic and people-centred approach through libraires

All of these steps are positive in themselves. But delivering on the intentions set out will be far easier if governments at all levels draw on the common element that links them together: libraries.

A strong and effective library field represents a pre-existing infrastructure for doing everything from upholding information integrity, supporting knowledge management and evidence-based policy-making, driving inclusive research, promoting digital inclusion and making the most of culture to rive development.

Crucially, they allow for an approach to information, knowledge and culture that is positive, pragmatic and people-centred.

A positive approach is one that focuses on helping people to be confident and skilled in approaching the information environment of today, rather than feeling powerless or scared.

A pragmatic approach is one that takes account of all relevant actors and policy tools, rather than focusing on any single action, such as platform regulation or formal education.

And a people-centred approach is one that starts with the needs and experience of individuals, meeting them where they are and taking account of cultural factors.

Libraires are excellently placed at delivering on all of the above. We look forward to sharing the message with other participants at the HLPF.

Take part!

Many elements of the programme for the HLPF are live-streamed, and so you can follow via the UN website. There are also a large number of virtual side events which you can join online!

In particular, we are involved in two webinars, both taking place at 12pm UTC on Monday 15 July:

  • Centring culture in reinforcing SDG delivery and achieving the goals of the Pact for the Future – Register
  • Creating a Global Knowledge Commons for Mission 4.7: IFLA, UNESCO, and SDSN Position Paper – Register

Don’t forget to register in order to participate!

IFLA is grateful to SIGL for the financial support that makes this participation possible.