IFLA is continuing in its work around the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), both in direct engagement at the global and regional levels, and in supporting members at the national levels.

The below update, distributed to participants in IFLA’s International Advocacy Programme, provides an overview of activities and resources in the past weeks.


1. Voluntary National Reviews

The fifty countries doing Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) this year should already be well advanced in their work, in particular consultations with stakeholders – including libraries! We have shared the latest instalment of our guide on how to engage in VNRs with libraries in countries which are doing them – this time focused on engaging with decision-makers – and hope that the guide will also be useful for everyone else in due course!


2. Regional Forums on Sustainable Development

We had a successful African Regional Forum on Sustainable Development in Victoria Falls Town, Zimbabwe, at the end of February, with a library delegation of six in total. In particular, IFLA hosted a side event focused on the role of access to information and the skills to use it, as a transformative driver of development. Library representatives did a great job both of raising awareness of how libraries can contribute to SDG success, and building new contacts among UN and national government officials. You can find out more in our news story.

Among the other regional forums, the spread of COVID-19 has meant that the events in Europe, Asia-Pacific, Arab-Speaking countries and Latin America and the Caribbean have been unfortunately been cancelled or scaled down. However, with successful bids for side-events in both Europe and Arab-Speaking countries this year, we are confident that next year we’ll be able to run a full programme.


3. High-Level Political Forum

Plans are advancing for the 2020 High Level Political Forum (HLPF), the 5th since the SDGs came into force, and the official ‘kick-off’ of the decade of action. Unlike previous editions, this is not focusing on any specific SDGs, but rather on the Goals as a whole, and the ‘accelerated actions and transformative pathways’ that could help deliver on them. The concept note explains more, describing in particular the six cross-cutting themes (tackling poverty, ensuring food security, protecting the planet, ensuring access to energy, sharing economic benefits, and bolstering local action), as how Voluntary National Reviews and data will be dealt with. We will continue to reflect on how best to use HLPF to get the message about libraries across, and have already submitted inputs for the NGO Major Group position paper.


4. UN75

The United Nations is continuing in its planning for its 75th birthday, and a major political declaration on the changes that need to be made to the multilateral system to help it deal better with the challenges the world faces. With key meetings planned (online or in person) in April, now is a great time to make your contributions to the global conversation! We have previously shared our guide: Get into UN75, and encourage you to take part and organise events – including online! – to gather views locally. You can also fill in the survey directly, and read more news on the UN’s dedicated website.


5. How Libraries are Engaging in National Efforts to Deliver Gender Equality (Beijing+25)

Another major anniversary this year is that of the 1995 Beijing Conference on gender equality, with the Commission on the Status of Women taking place this week in New York (although in a smaller format than planned). In addition to our Background Brief and Advocacy Kit, we now have a new report which looks at the references to libraries in the reports submitted by national governments on their own efforts to deliver on the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. This aims to provide you with examples that you can draw on in your own advocacy for libraries to be included in efforts to promote equality.


6. New Library Map of the World Resources and Library Stat of the Week

IFLA’s Library Map of the World is growing! Many of you will have seen the February update, but there are new country profiles for Armenia and Greece, and new SDG Stories focusing on how libraries are contributing to climate action from Croatia and Ukraine. We are also producing a weekly series – Library Stat of the Week – which looks to show what we can now do with Library Map of the World and Development and Access to Information Report data in order to understand the library field better – take a look!


7. Draft SDG Advocacy Capacities Matrix

Drawing on all the experience we have – together – of advocating for libraries using the SDGs, we’re keen to think further about how we can help our members get involved and increase their effectiveness. As a basis for this, we have been thinking about a capacities matrix – a way of helping associations and other groups of libraries assess where they are now on SDG Advocacy, and think about what they can do to become more involved. The idea is based on skills matrices used in the education sector. This is very much a first draft, and so we would very much welcome your views on how useful it could be, and what changes you would make.


8. Other News

We have been active in other areas too of course! Following up on our engagement at the World Urban forum in February, we have continued to engage with local government organisations in order to build awareness of libraries’ contributions to sustainable development among mayors. In particular, we took part in the United Cities and Local Governments Retreat and Campus in Tanger, Morocco (see our news story), have produced an analysis of the opportunities that the new European Green Deal and Digital Agenda – both closely linked to the SDGs – could present for libraries, and have blogged about how we can better engage decision-makers in order to make them understand about the importance of information for policy success. Finally, you can also take a look at our ‘Advoc8’ a monthly series of eight key advocacy messages based on global priorities and recent reports and standards produced by IFLA.