What’s on the Agenda for Libraries and the SDGs in the Rest of 2020?

2020 has been a big year for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A third of the way into the time Member States gave themselves for their implementation, there is only a decade left to deliver.

Clearly, this is not the only way in which 2020 has not been a normal year.

Following the African Regional Forum on Sustainable Development in February, all other regional meetings on the SDGs were held virtually or simply postponed. Similarly, the 2020 High Level Political Forum took place online.

However, work has continued, and indeed is as important as ever as the world looks to make progress while also dealing with the consequences of the pandemic.

This emphasis on the need to accelerate efforts to make a reality of sustainable development will therefore mark the last four months of the year, and bring with it opportunities for libraries to highlight the role they can play.

Here are just a few of those opportunities:

18 September – SDG Moment: in the context of the United Nations General Assembly, there will be a morning where heads of state and government will underline their commitment to the SDGs. For those countries participating (the list is not yet available), this could be an opportunity to underline your work around the SDGs on social media. Find out more here.

18-25 September – Global Goals Week: also taking place at the time of the UN General Assembly, Global Goals Week offers a programme of events and activities, online, that run from the 18 September SDG moment to the anniversary of the agreement of the UN 2030 Agenda on 25 September. In particular, look out for the global day of factivism on 25 September, where people will share facts that set out how the world is doing towards achieving the SDGs – a perfect opportunity for the library field to show what it can do! Find out more here.

28 September – International Day for the Universal Access to Information: September is a busy month! Following four years as a UNESCO international day, last year, the UN General Assembly upgraded the International Day for the Universal Access to Information to a UN-level observance. With a strong focus on the power of information to improve lives, it’s a great opportunity to share how libraries make a difference, through social media, op-eds, or letters to newspapers, radio or TV shows. Find out more here.

October – Urban October: the month of October opens with World Habitat Day on 5 October, and ends with World Cities Day on 31 October. With libraries playing a major and acknowledged role in promoting inclusion and social cohesion, it’s a great time to be highlighting how libraries build communities. IFLA will be planning communications around the celebrations and will share information in due course, but you also can register events on the Urban October website. Find out more here.

19-21 October – World Data Forum: while it will not be possible to meet in person, the virtual World Data Forum provides a great learning opportunity for anyone interested in how statistics are being – or can be – used to strengthen efforts to deliver the SDGs. IFLA will be highlighting its own statistical outputs – and what you can do with them – with a special focus on World Statistics Day on 20 October. Find out more here.

24 October – UN Day/World Development Information Day: another opportunity to highlight how libraries and information contribute to sustainable development is World Development Information Day. This can be an opportunity to show how libraries are supporting research addressing major development challenges, and so accelerating progress towards the SDGs! Find out more here.


There are also ongoing projects where you can play a role:

Gather stories and data to power your advocacy! You can help both yourself and colleagues elsewhere in the world by contributing stories, data and country profiles to the Library Map of the World. Find out more on the website.

Establish or refresh your contacts with SDG leads in your country: do the people responsible for delivering on the SDGs in your country know about what libraries can provide? Try to find out who is in charge in government and parliament, as well as among civil society organisations. There are great examples from Brazil and Costa Rica of the benefits of forming these links.

Get involved in preparing your country’s Voluntary National Review: for the countries which will undertake Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) of progress towards the SDGs in 2021, it is useful to try and understand early what the process will be. A provisional list is already available, and will be finalised soon. If your country is on there, find out how the process will be run, and consult our guide on engaging in VNRs.


Good luck, and please do share your plans, either in the comments below or by e-mailing us at [email protected]!