Tag Archives: Civil society

IFLA at the Second meeting of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development – Days 3, 4 and 5 (Advocacy at the Forum, Side event and Civil Society Declaration)

IFLA Delegation at the ForumAfter taking active part in two days of Civil Society meetings on 16-17 April at the Second meeting of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development, IFLA’s delegation in Santiago, Chile, continued its advocacy efforts to get libraries and access to information into the Agenda.

18 April started bright and early, securing a seat in the Civil Society area to attend the official opening of the Forum by Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) (read the speech and watch the video).

During her welcome address, she stressed:

“It is essential that the civil society is actively involved in the processes that contribute to decision-making, planning and implementation of policies and programmes that promote sustainable development in its three dimensions and at all levels, and that appropriates it to ensure it permeates widely in all social sectors, and everywhere.

This is even more relevant in the current political context, and the changes in the governments that the region is going through. Civil society must be guarantor of continuity in the process of implementing the 2030 Agenda and that this roadmap is a substantial part of the development agendas of the new governments of the region.”

“Let’s continue creating together the conditions for civil society to continue articulating its modalities of participation, dialogue and collaboration with national and regional mechanisms such as the Forum for monitoring and progress review of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and that, in this way, we generate renewed and solid partnerships for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and their respective targets.”

She then continued by adding:

“Actually, the 2030 Agenda will only be achieved if all the actors are sitting around the table and that’s why we wanted the present Forum to have a multi-actor characteristic.”

The address was followed by a message pronounced by Norma Munguía, Director General for Global Affairs, on behalf of Ambassador Miguel Ruiz Cabañas, Undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights of the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs of Mexico and Chair of the Forum (read the speech).

In her message, Norma Munguía stated:

We must encourage the use of technology and innovation in improving the living conditions of our societies, while facilitating access to information and promoting the mobilization of public and private resources.

Later, Alicia Bárcena gave an overview of the key points (download presentation) of the Second annual report on regional progress and challenges in relation to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Latin America and the Caribbean launched during the  Forum.

While part of IFLA delegation was still working on drafting the Civil Society Declaration, the rest of IFLA delegates attended the peer learning sessions in the afternoon. This helped to find the right moment to approach Alicia Bárcena to bring the message of libraries.

Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)Adriana Cybele Ferrari (FEBAB President, Brazil and IFLA IAP participant) approached ECLAC’s Executive Secretary and delivered a copy of the Development and Access to Information (DA2I) report, informing her that the library community is present at the Forum advocating for libraries and access to information. She also took the opportunity to mention the side event at the ECLAC Library on 19 April, and the launch of the “Santiago Declaration: Access to information to achieve sustainable development in Latin America and the Caribbean” during this event, which was enthusiastically encouraged by Mrs. Bárcena.

IFLA ECLAC Side Event19 April was an extremely successful day for our IFLA delegation, with two main highlights: the side event hosted by ECLAC’s Hernán Santa Cruz Library in partnership with IFLA: “The importance of access to information to achieve sustainable development in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the reading of the Civil Society Declaration during the session “Dialogues on multi-stakeholder contributions to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, including access to information and culture. Learn more details of these two key milestones by reading our news piece and watching the recording of the side event.Reading of the Civil Society Declaration

At the end of this day, Jonathan Hernández Pérez (CNB President, Mexico and Associate of IFLA’s ILP) had the opportunity to meet Miguel Ruiz Cabañas, Undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights of the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs of Mexico. Jonathan took this chance to introduce himself, IFLA and the CNB, present the work of libraries supporting development in Mexico, and offered the support of the library community for the preparations of Mexico’s next Voluntary National Review (VNR), providing clear examples of libraries’ contributions to development.

On 20 April, the last day of the Forum, IFLA delegates attended several sessions, including “Special statement on the importance of the regional dimension in the 2018 and 2019 meetings of the high-level political forum on sustainable development” and the side events: “Engaging scientists in the Latin American and Caribbean region to support the implementation of the SDGs” and “Recognizing the whole-of-society approach to the SDGs through integration of volunteerism data in VNRs”.

A quieter day at the Forum, allowed for pop-up advocacy action by both of our delegates Adriana Cybele Ferrari and Jonathan Hernández Pérez.

Jonathan approached Adolfo Ayuso-Audry, General Director of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Office of the President of Mexico, at the end of a side event to introduce the work of libraries in development, and ask for involvement in the Mexican VNR Commission. Minister Ayuso-Audry asked for his contact information and requested a brief to learn more about how libraries support the SDGs.

Adriana found her chance when she bumped into Enrique Villa da Costa Ferreira, National Secretary for Social Coordination of the Government Secretariat of the Office of the President of Brazil, and took the opportunity to introduce herself, present the work of libraries in Brazil, and ask to be included in the sectoral committees that work in the monitoring and implementation of the Agenda at the national level. Secretary Villa da Costa Ferreira provided guidance on how to get involved and Adriana promised to follow up.

Would you like to learn more about the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development – 2018?

Watch the recording of our side event with ECLAC’s Library in YouTube, find out more about IFLA’s work on libraries and development and the Development and Access to Information (DA2I) report.

*Photos by Sueli Mara Soares Pinto Ferreira, Lucia Abello and IFLA.

IFLA at the Second meeting of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development – Days 1 and 2 (Civil Society Meetings)

Kicking-off a full week advocating for libraries and access to information at the Second meeting of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development, IFLA’s delegation in Santiago, Chile, took active part of meetings organised by civil society at the Forum on 16-17 April.

On 17 April, local organisations representing civil society, Mesa de Articulación de Asociaciones Nacionales y Redes Regionales de ONG de América Latina y El Caribe and Asociación Chilena de Organismos No Gubernamentales (Acción Internacional), organised two side events about relevant issues related to Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) involvement in the UN 2030 Agenda and international cooperation, as well as the status of alternative reporting and their interactions with Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs).

South-south cooperation and the 2030 Agenda: challenges of civil society in LAC

Starting in the morning of 17 April, IFLA was present at the side event “South-south cooperation and the 2030 Agenda: challenges of civil society in LAC” where the situation of international cooperation in Chile and the role of CSOs in the 2030 Agenda implementation process and mechanisms was presented.  

In the afternoon, the “Training workshop on alternative reporting” was a perfect opportunity to present the Development and Access to Information (DA2I) report, a contribution from IFLA and TASCHA to the monitoring of the 2030 Agenda by measuring access to information and the libraries’ contribution to achieving sustainable development and the 17 SDGs. The event discussed shadow reporting, including an overview of challenges presented by SDG indicators, and reflections related to financing and CSOs involvement and support.Training workshop on alternative reporting

The programme of the Forum started officially on 17 April with the “Latin America and the Caribbean civil society consultation prior to the second meeting of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development” (morning and afternoon programmes).

Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) opened with a speech addressing her views on the current status of the 2030 Agenda in the region, and she stated: “Governments have stopped talking about the 2030 Agenda (…) The 2030 Agenda is a priority, a necessity. It’s the only way to battle inequality.”

Opening by Alicia Bárcena

This event was an excellent opportunity for IFLA delegates present on the first days of the Forum: Adriana Cybele Ferrari (FEBAB President, Brazil) and Maria Violeta Bertolini (IFLA), with the support of Sueli Mara Soares Pinto Ferreira (IFLA Governing Board Member/FEBAB, Brazil) to connect with other civil society organisations and ensure the need for meaningful access to information is considered throughout the event as a key element for sustainable development.

IFLA delegation at the ForumAs a few highlights: as a result of networking with fellow Brazilian civil society members, Adriana was invited to be involved in the Comissão Nacional para os Objetivos de Desenvolvimento Sustentável (CNODS) of Brazil. Moreover, the IFLA the delegation had the opportunity to connect with Rosario Diaz Garavito, founder of The Millennials Movement and one of the UN NGO Major Group Operating Partners for Latin America as well as Co Focal Point on Humanitarian Affairs for the LATAM region. This was an opportunity to identify the common interests related to empowering youth, in our case through libraries, and to discuss potential room for collaboration at a regional level.IFLA with NGO Major Group LATAM

During the Civil Society consultation, the IFLA delegation took part in the discussions where key ideas to be included in the Civil Society Declaration were presented, to form a collective declaration that will be read at the Forum before the end of this week. In addition to submitting a key idea arguing for the need to recognise access to information as a human right, and the need for informed, empowered and committed citizens to have a participatory, inclusive and democratic agenda, IFLA volunteered to be part of the Civil Society team compiling all contributions and writing the final declaration.Civil Society Declaration

In the afternoon, the proposed mechanism/modality of civil society participation in the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development was reviewed, with very engaging discussions that will shape the future of Civil Society participation in LAC regional forums.

We look forward to continuing engaging with fellow Civil Society representatives after the official opening of the Forum that takes place today!

Civil Society Meetings

Find out more about IFLA’s work on libraries and development, the Development and Access to Information (DA2I) report, and follow us during the event on Twitter (@IFLA and @IFLA_Lib4Dev, and Facebook).

Use hashtags #ForoALC2030, #ForumLAC2030, #DA2I, and #Lib4Dev to stay tuned!

Member, Partner, Host: Libraries and Civil Society

Logo for 2017 International Civil Society Week

Logo for 2017 International Civil Society Week

Libraries play a major role in supporting the development of literate, informed, and participatory communities. They in turn benefit from the energy and enthusiasm of individual users. Strong societies and strong libraries go together.

They can also have an important role in partnering with civil society organisations, such as charities, groups or movements. The relationship is not always easy to define though.

Libraries themselves are organised very differently from one country to the next – even from one state to the next. Librarians can be civil servants, public employees, or more independent. They certainly provide a public service, even though they tend to be seen as less ‘governmental’ by users who might be intimidated by a more formal institution.

Yet as professionals, they have a clear public-interest goal – to facilitate access to information – that is more durable, and deep-set, than shorter term political priorities. This is a goal that cannot necessarily be achieved purely by action within the profession.

Civil society itself tends to be defined by what it’s not – that is government or business – than what it is. The result is a highly diverse field of individuals and organisations, who look to represent larger or smaller groups or interests. In looking to reflect all of the different views and currents running through society, it can struggle to send a single message, and include many whose views may appear extreme. But it also contains many intelligent, passionate people whose goals align perfectly with the public interest objectives of our institutions. It is the best means we have of ensuring that the public interest is heard when decisions are being taken.

It is clear that there are opportunities, but also complexity. For individual librarians, it may not be possible in their professional capacity. Libraries as institutions may face strict rules about working with non-public actors. Library associations, which are often established as independent organisations, do potentially have a possibility here though.

The session organised by IFLA’s Section on Managing Library Associations focused on this point in its open session at IFLA’s World Library and Information Congress last year. Two of the papers in particular tell an exciting story of how library associations have developed partnerships with other organisations, and in doing so taken their place as partners – and members – of civil society. A third example, from outside, highlights how libraries can act as hosts, and in doing so gain from civil society organisations’ expertise.


Hungary – School Librarians Join the Fight for Public Education

A paper from the Hungarian School Librarians Association sets out their process of joining a coalition of non-governmental organisations fighting against legislation that would have radically centralised the public education system. Following a poll of their members, they chose to join with organisations representing teachers, students and parents. The umbrella logo selected for the movement – echoing the umbrellas carried by those who joined the biggest demonstration that took place – also provides a good metaphor for the convergence of sixty different groups.

Yet in their opposition to the legislation – and in their positive support for child-centric learning, equity, a focus on skills, democracy, autonomy and transparency – they found a single voice. This voice not only amplified the messages of the librarians, but also gave them greater profile.

As the article underlines, ‘the good school library and the democratic school strengthen each other. That’s why we have to stand for democratic values, in order to protect our long-term professional interest. We have to act proactively to maintain an optimal political environment which allows the school library to a democratic unit of the school; the information and learning centre where the student’s knowledge and creativity can take flight!’ Membership

Colombia – Libraries Find a Voice through Civil Society

A second paper looks at the Colombian library sector, and its journey from non-engagement in copyright reforms in 2011 to a groundswell in favour of change in 2016.

Copyright is at the heart of what libraries do. While on a day-to-day basis, they stick to the rules when making use of exceptions and limitations, it is usually reform that will deliver the best results for users. Fortunately, we are not alone in wanting to drive change, with organisations representing users also engaged in the same efforts.

In Colombia, there had previously been little focus on the possibility to engage with, and convince government. This changed, following the creation of Fundación Connector, which brought new skills and enthusiasm to the national library field. Through developing new tools and evidence, and supporting libraries in holding meetings, presenting at events and responding to consultations, it created a new energy in the sector. This means that libraries are now seen as an essential stakeholder in debates not just about copyright, but also about anything relating to access to information.

UK – Library Hosts Cryptoparties, Delivers Intellectual Freedom

Finally, an example from Newcastle, UK. This does not come from the Session at WLIC, but still illustrates a final way in which libraries can work with civil society as host and hub. In the case of Newcastle, it was through inviting privacy NGO the Open Rights Group to hold a cryptoparty at the City Library.

Privacy is essential to free access to information, implying that users can search for what they need without fear of surveillance or interference. Cryptoparties offer people knowledge and tools for doing this, and can provide a perfect fit for libraries which may not have the capacity in-house to do this. What libraries can offer is a space – one that is recognised and trusted by the community. Especially in the technical field, the importance of bridging the gap with less confident users is high, and the library can provide a means of doing this.

The Newcastle cryptoparty offers a great example of how a library with some autonomy can forge links with a civil society organisation that shares our values, but can also bring unique expertise.



A speaker at this year’s American Library Association Annual Conference described libraries as political, but not partisan. Promoting free access to information and free expression, especially when some would prefer to shut it down, is indeed a political mission. In achieving this, we have much to gain from working with – and seeing ourselves as – civil society actors.