15 June 2015

What has happened with the UN post-2015 Development Agenda and how is access to information progressing?

With the negotiations over the UN post-2015 development agenda reaching their final phases in New York, it is an appropriate moment to share an overview of what is happening at the United Nations.

At IFLA we have continued our active engagement in the post-2015 process and we have further worked on bringing the issues of the Lyon Declaration to the attention of Member States and the United Nations.

What's been going on?

The United Nations have continued to finalise the results presented to them by the Open Working Group (OWG) at the end of 2014.

At the beginning of June a Zero draft of the outcome document for the UN Summit to adopt the Post-2015 Development Agenda was released. Based on this draft, and our knowledge of the negotiations, seems highly unlikely that the Goals and Targets will be re-opened before the summit in September 2015, although there is still some discussion on the wording of certain targets. This is good news for IFLA and all the signatories of the Lyon Declaration as the target on access to information: 16:10 ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements remains firmly within the final 17 goals and targets.

Furthermore it has been our consistent position that access to information is essential in achieving all 17 targets and IFLA, in cooperation with other civil society groups, is actively working on communicating this to the UN with help of Member State representatives.

The UN is now working on several processes at the same time in order to finalise the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by September. In order to make this happen Member States are currently discussion on how to finance the new Development Agenda and how to measure the success of it. IFLA is represented and engaged in the discussion on measurements as several statistics are already in place which would enable the measurement of access to information. In addition, we are working on the Development and Access to Information report called for in 6d) of the Lyon Declaration.

Connected to this, IFLA took the Lyon Declaration and the voice of all its signatories to the UN meeting in February and highlighted to Member States and the UN in general the importance of access to information for a long lasting sustainable development. For this, we also provided a background paper addressing the main elements of where libraries can provide guidance and leadership in implementing the SDGs.

In April, the UN held a special session on ‘Strengthening Science, Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Development’. This clearly relates to many of the core aims of libraries who provide access to science, technology and foster innovation. In order to communicate this to Member States, IFLA provided a brief which outlined how libraries are key partners for these issues.

In May, IFLA joined the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum and presented a high level policy statement which stressed the importance of access to information for all of the SDGs. Prior to the event, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) released an analysis of the WSIS action lines in relation to the SDGs and clearly stated that access to information (WSIS action line 3) is essential and spans across all of the 17 proposed SDGs.

What's next?

See our just released call to action on Targeting your National Development Plans for how you can effect change by engaging with national ministries and policymakers.

IFLA will continue to engage with the process currently taking place, but as the goals and targets are now almost certain it has become ever more crucial to work directly with Member States to get our message heard at the UN. Therefore, any help you can provide to raise awareness on a national level for access to information, or the role that libraries have in enabling sustainable development will ultimately help the negotiations at the UN.

IFLA will continue to attend the essential meetings held at the UN in New York and represent Lyon Declaration signatories. In June and July two intergovernmental negotiations will be held which will further address the goals, targets and indicators of the SDGs, and the text for the Declaration on Sustainable Development to be launched in September.

Between now and the Summit in September, we will actively work with other civil society organisations and NGOs to ensure the right indicators are used to measure access to information and to stress the point that libraries are essential agents in sustainable development. The Lyon Declaration underlines all these points and your signature helps to put weight onto a document which will facilitate long term change for access to information.

Access to information, Access to knowledge, Advocacy, Development, post2015, UN

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