10 Juli 2020

Update on IFLA's Work on Sustainable Development - July 2020

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

The below update, distributed to participants in IFLA's International Advocacy Programme on 3 July 2020, provides an overview of activities and resources in the past weeks.

1. HIGH LEVEL POLITICAL FORUM

Next week, the 2020 High Level Political Forum opens in New York. Given limitations on travel, however, on-site events are heavily restricted, but more is taking place online than ever before. This means that library and information workers can follow meetings and events more than ever before.

In particular, all ‘main’ sessions will be live streamed, including thematic sessions on issues such as transformative pathways towards development, global responses to COVID-19, and how to deliver on the SDGs at the local level, and Voluntary National Reviews (see below). There are also lots of other sessions, including Voluntary National Review Labs (which share experiences of being involved in VNRs from different perspectives), learning sessions, and lots of side-events, including one co-organised by IFLA looking at the role of culture in the response to COVID-19 and long-term sustainable development.

Do take a look at the programme here, register for VNR labs, learning sessions or side events (space may be limited), and follow the website for information on how to watch the main sessions. You can sign up for the IFLA co-organised webinar, on 13 July at 12pm New York time (check when this is for you) at this link: https://bit.ly/385c77N.

Finally, as promised in our previous e-mail, you may wish to write to the person leading on the SDGs in your government to ensure that they remember the importance of libraries as they participate in the High Level Political Forum. You may wish to use a version of the below to do this:

Dear […],

I am writing to you from [your association/institution] concerning the United Nations High-Level Political Forum, held on 7-16 July 2020. Through the participation of the delegation of [your country], I hope that you will be able to recognise and support the potential of libraries in our country to achieve sustainable development.

As you will be aware, libraries have a mission to support stronger, fairer, more sustainable development by giving everyone access to information and the skills they need to use it. Through this, they do not only support literacy and life-long learning (SDG4), research and innovation (SDG9) and the safeguarding of heritage (SDG11), but at least 20 targets across the 2030 Agenda. In particular, they can have a transformative impact on the local level, building on their knowledge of their communities’ needs.

As we enter the Decade of Action, at the same time as planning for rebuilding after the COVID-19 pandemic, libraries represent an excellent partner for governments in order to achieve transformative change. With countries with stronger library networks having higher levels of literacy, lower levels of inequality, and better performance on indicators of innovation such as publishing and patenting, our institutions have a major contribution to make.

For example, libraries in [your country] [examples of what you are doing].

I therefore hope, in your interventions at the High Level Political Forum, that you will be able to use examples from [your country] to highlight all that libraries can do to accelerate progress, and to encourage colleagues from other countries to do the same.

I wish you a successful Forum.

2. VOLUNTARY NATIONAL REVIEWS

Almost all the countries presenting Voluntary National Review reports this year have now published their reports (on this page, scroll down and select ‘2020’). In addition to Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, India, Liberia and Nigeria for the fact that libraries are referenced in your countries’ reports, we also have extensive references in the reports for Argentina, as well as ones in the documents for Brunei, North Macedonia, Papua New Guinea and Slovenia. We will issue a summary of what’s in these documents early next week.

We also have the opportunity to shape the statements made by civil society organisations on each of the VNR reports, and are grateful to participants from Bangladesh and Burundi for suggesting points which we will try to integrate into civil society statements.

3. IDENTIFYING DEVELOPMENT ACCELERATORS

As mentioned in the last e-mail, the UN has a call open for examples of ‘development accelerators’. You can find out more about what this means in our blog from last year, but in short, it is a great way to show examples of how libraries help achieve a number of SDGs at the same time, and of course to have your work featured on the UN website.

4. CULTURE, COVID-19 AND THE SDGS – STATEMENT ENDORSED BY PRESIDENT OF THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY

In our last e-mail, you read about the Culture and COVID-19 statement prepared by IFLA alongside other members of the Culture 2030 Goal Coalition. There are already over 200 signatories to the statement, and we have now received the exciting news that the President of the 74th United Nations General Assembly, His Excellency Mr Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, has endorsed it. This is a welcome recognition – at the highest level – of the message that cultural actors such as libraries need to be integrated into policy planning.

If you haven’t already, you can sign up to the statement using this form.

5. NEW LIBRARY MAP OF THE WORLD RESOURCES AND LIBRARY STAT OF THE WEEK

For those who did not already see the e-mail on our IFLA-L mailing list, there is new information on IFLA’s Library Map of the World! This includes new stories from Argentina (on supporting people with disabilities), India (on supporting research), Ireland (on sustainability), Singapore (on employment) and Ukraine (on childhood development).

There is also now data for the first time on libraries in Pakistan, as well as updated data from Latvia and Sweden.

Through our Library Stat of the Week series, we have been looking at data around academic libraries and library workers, and connections to indicators of research performance (linked to SDG 9 and SDG 17). Through these, we have analysed the strength of the academic library field in different regions, as well as the links between numbers of academic libraries and librarians and publishing/patenting, including at similar levels of wealth.

These figures help underline that more librarians in particular tend to be associated with higher research performance, including in countries with similar levels of GDP per person, but also highlight inequalities between countries and regions.

As ever, we are keen to hear about what you are doing, including your successes in building contacts and awareness, and ensuring that the role of libraries is recognised, celebrated and supported. So don’t hesitate to let us know!

Access to information, Development, sustainable development goals

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