2 December 2020

Recognising Libraries as Partners for Development – A Review of Five Years of Voluntary National Reviews

Over the last five years, 168 different countries have presented Voluntary National Reviews on their work to deliver the SDGs. The latest IFLA analysis highlights the example they offer of recognising libraries as partners for development.

A key characteristic of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda is its emphasis on monitoring and encouraging progress. Alongside a bank of 232 indicators and reporting from the UN and its agencies, a key way of doing this is Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs).

These offer Member States an opportunity to share updates on their work to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and set out priorities. Other countries can, in turn, ask questions and make suggestions.

At the heart of VNRs are the reports governments must put together, ideally reflecting the contributions and the suggestions of stakeholders across society. As such, they can be an important opportunity for libraries to receive recognition for the work they do to support sustainable development.

New IFLA analysis has looked across the 199 available reports, from 168 different countries (a number of countries have carried out two reports), looking at how often they mention libraries, and in what ways. Headline statistics include:

  • 41 reports, from 37 countries, mention libraries
  • After a slow start in 2016 and 2017, in each of the last three years, around a quarter of reports submitted have mentioned libraries
  • While the role of libraries in supporting education (SDG4) is the most commonly mentioned, libraries’ work in supporting industry, innovation and infrastructure (SDG9), reducing inequalities (SDG10), sustainable cities and communities (SDG11) and a shift to a greener world (SDGs 7, 12 and 13) also feature at least around 10% of the time.
  • There is also widespread recognition of the role of libraries in raising awareness of the SDGs, and four countries recognise explicitly that libraries and library associations are key stakeholders in wider SDG delivery.

Access the report on our publications page. See also our Guide to Voluntary National Reviews.

Access to information, Development, SDGs, VNRs, Voluntary National Reviews

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