Tag Archives: SDGs

Too brief a brief? A comprehensive approach to a more effective multilateral system needs a stronger focus on culture

The Summit of the Future, planned for 2024, looks set to be a key moment not just in the evolution of the United Nations’ work on its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, but also in what comes next.

It will bring together many of the key workstreams launched in the context of Our Common Agenda, itself a response to the declaration of the UN’s Member States for the organisation’s 75th anniversary. A common thread throughout this the focus on how to enhance the capacity of the UN and wider multilateral system to deliver, correcting some of the weaknesses and blind spots of current structures and agendas.

The Culture2030Goal campaign is built around the understanding that for the sustainable development agenda to realise its goals, it needs to give a stronger and deeper role to culture. As underlined in our statement on the SDG Summit – due in September this year – we cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of 2015, leaving culture out of comprehensive policy agendas. 

While our statement is focused on what is coming up later this year, the same logic applies – perhaps even more intensively – to the Summit of the Future. As a campaign, we cannot conceive of an effort to boost the UN’s ability to achieve its goals that doesn’t include an effort to include culture. 

So how is it going so far? This blog explores the eight Policy Briefs which have already been published by the UN Secretary General as part of the process of preparing for the Summit of the Future. In each case, there’s a short description of the brief, and then an assessment of whether it contributes to a stronger consideration of culture in the UN’s action. 

Beyond GDP (link)

This paper looks to advance work to complement Gross Domestic Product with other indicators that provide a fuller, and more forward-looking idea of where we stand, and where we are going. It proposes to launch work to identify a basket of 10-20 indicators, as well as to boost statistical capacity.

What does it say about culture?: unfortunately, nothing. Despite the well-acknowledged positive impact of culture on wellbeing as well as a wide variety of other goals, there is no mention of it in this paper, risking meaning that future policy-decisions will be made based on highly incomplete data.

Future Generations (link)

This paper aims to advance efforts to integrate considerations about the future more firmly into decision-making. It proposes doing this through more investment in foresight, an envoy or the future, and a Forum to pool expertise and ideas. 

What does it say about culture?: the brief provides welcome recognition that the practice of integrating the interests of future generations is a long-standing practice in the cultural field, and that these have inspired many efforts to do so today. It also notes that work to preserve heritage also, by definition, is about safeguarding the possibility for future generations to access it. The brief could be improved by a more explicit reference to the need to reflect cultural considerations in future efforts in this space, in particular through any forum on foresight work.  

Youth engagement (link)

This brief focuses on the desire to ensure a more consistent and meaningful level of engagement of young people in processes across the United Nations, both as a means of ensuring better decision-making, but also to build a sense of involvement and confidence. 

What does it say about culture?: very little unfortunately. While the brief mentions the need to adapt institutional culture, there is little thought about what role the cultural field could play in developing new forms of engagement, or indeed in building wider cultures of engagement. 

Global Digital Compact (link)

This brief refers to the drive to bring together the various different processes underway around the governance of the internet and the wider digital world, based on a number of shared principles. There is a strong focus on tackling divides, both at the level of individuals, and that of governments when it comes to the ability to regulate the digital world. 

What does it say about culture?: there is a welcome focus on the need to connect cultural institutions to the internet and enable them to engage fully online. More broadly, the brief also recognises the importance of cultures and behaviours in a digital world that will need to evolve. Nonetheless, the cultural sector remains viewed simply as a provider of content. 

Information Integrity (link)

This policy brief builds on parallel concerns about misinformation, disinformation and hate speech spread by private and governmental actors. Complementing work going on in parallel at UNESCO, it suggests a code of practice on information for governments and private actors, aimed both at tackling lies and building skills and resilience

What does it say about culture?: once again, culture tends to be seen in a relatively passive light, with it noted that digital platforms have transformed cultural interactions. There certainly is reflection on the role of behaviours and attitudes among internet users, but the response is mainly to regulate and provide training, rather than to mobilise cultural actors to build possibilities to deepen understanding. 

Outer Space (link)

With major increases in numbers of satellites launched, more private sector engagement and new ambitions to visit deep space, this policy brief sets out a way of ensuring that there are the right governance mechanisms in place. 

What does it say about culture?Again, very little, although it does underline the potential for ambitious programmes to trigger the imagination and get other people thinking about the future. There is also a reference to the chance, some of the references to the need to manage shared resources effectively could build on lessons about traditional cultural approaches to this. 

Financial Architecture (link)

At the heart of this policy brief is the sense that responses to financial crises are all too often inadequate, especially for poorer countries, while the resources available to support development are too scarce. It calls for reforms within financial institutions, better coordination, and a big increase in development spending.

What does it say about culture?: there are no references to culture in here, although it may be possible to interpret calls to give a greater weight to achieving the SDGs and wider sustainability in funding by the IMG and development banks as potentially, in future, allowing for greater investment in culture. 

Emergency Platform (link)

This policy brief looks to learn the lessons from the most recent crises – in particular the pandemic and the cost of living crisis – and proposes a set of protocols that could be activated the next time the world faces a complex crisis. Through this, it should be possible to ensure stronger coordination, and more of a focus on the needs of the most vulnerable.

What does it say about culture?: there is no reference to culture in the paper, despite the key role it  can play both in ensuring resilience upstream of crises and enabling recovery subsequently. Of course, the brief is focused on governance, but this too needs to be based on better information and insights (something that culture can offer), as well as the mobilisation of relevant stakeholders, which should of course include the culture sector. 

Transforming Education (link)

This brief follows on from the 2022 Transforming Education Summit, and calls both for a re-emphasis on the importance of education and lifelong learning as a global public good, and efforts to address the parallel crises of equity (everyone should be able to benefit from education), relevance (people need to learn how to cope with a changing world), and the financing of education.

What does it say about culture?: references are again limited, although there is recognition both of the role of education in addressing more harmful cultural beliefs and practices, and in the value of creative education. The paper also notes the value of ensuring that education adapts to the needs of communities. However, in its thin references to cultural education, and none at all to the need to work with and through culture to ensure effectiveness, there is much that could be improved.

A New Agenda for Peace (link)

This brief addresses the concern that just as polarisation and conflict appear to be on the rise again, the infrastructures in place for addressing them are weakened. The brief calls for a reaffirmation of the values of trust, solidarity and universality, and promotes a more holistic, preventative approach to peace-building, as well as referring to the value of potential UN reform.

What does it say about culture?: sadly, very little at all. There is recognition that conflict within societies can easily be reflected in conflicts between countries, as well as the harmful effects of a lack of understanding or sense of togetherness between peoples. It talks also about ‘cultures’ of peace, but again, does not go into enough depth on questions of peace-building and prevention and how cultural initiatives can help in this respect. A particular concern is that there is no reference to the role of protecting heritage and ensuring its survival as a basis for recovery.

UN 2.0 (link)

This brief looks at the changes the Secretary General believes are necessary in the United Nations itself in order to be a more impactful and sustainable organisation. It sets out a ‘quintet of change’ – actions around data, innovation, digital, foresight and behavioural science, within the context of wider efforts to promote forward thinking and bring about cultural change within the organisation. With a combination of efforts by the UN system and Member States, this should leave the UN better able to achieve its goals, with a plan proposed for 2024-26.

What does it say about culture: a lot in fact – there are more references to culture in this brief than in all of the others put together. The emphasis, however, is on culture understood broadly as a set of attitudes and beliefs which condition the way we work. This is applied both to the UN as a whole (calling for culture change in the organisation) and in policy implementation (where the value of investing in behavioural science is highlighted). However, there is relatively little exploration of how this change can happen, and no reference to culture as the set of cultural institutions and actors, and how their insights and work can help.


Across the briefs, there is certainly space for culture to play a role, and in particular in the final one. However, this approach remains piecemeal, and leaves plenty of gaps, and so is likely to offer an insufficiently strong drive to realise the potential of culture. Based on the MONDIACULT Declaration of 2022, there is both the scope and substance for a policy brief focused on culture, starting the process of correcting the mistakes of 2015. 



Working with the SDGs, Working with Politicians: Interview with the National Parliamentary Library of Georgia

Engaging with the UN Sustainable Development Goals opens up possibilities for libraries to create connections with United Nations agencies, while focusing initiatives on the individual topics they cover can help build support for the work of our institutions across governments, among politicians.

We talked with Maia Simonishvili, from the National Parliamentary Library of Georgia, to find out about her institution’s experience.


1. How are libraries viewed by politicians in Georgia in general?

Actually, we can describe relations between libraries and politicians as normal for today. They express interest in supporting the development of libraries. For example, the undergoing reconstruction process of the buildings of the National Parliamentary Library of Georgia is funded by government bodies. These buildings are part of the cultural heritage of the city. The same might be said about the technical equipment, software, and new printed collections.  We don’t have private libraries in Georgia, and regional libraries are funded by their municipality. Their services are free of charge, our services are also free of charge for all readers and event organizers. We are proud we serve all citizens equally and we perceive ourselves as real democratic organizations. On the other side, financial circumstances are not always the best, and more support would be better, of course.

2. How did you get the idea to open an SDG library? 

We are glad to collaborate with different cultural and educational institutions as well as government agencies.  We are very thankful to Dr. Sabine Machl, UN Resident Coordinator in Georgia for her support.

Some months ago, Mrs. Mariam Gamezardashvili,  a representative of the Education and International Development Academy offered us to work towards the opening of a new book corner funded by the UN Georgia. In doing this, we have focused on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and we have had all these goals in mind while creating a new collection.

3. What did you do around the opening of this?

We choose international manuals and bestsellers in different fields to create a multifaceted collection. The UN Georgia gifted us not only books but needed equipment for the section.  Given the pandemic situation, we had very few public events this year, and the opening event of the SDG library was very joyful for us and our readers. Members of the  Youth Parliament of the Students in Georgia attended the opening and we had an interesting conversation with Dr. Sabine Machl. What is more joyful, we will have further collaboration to develop new programs, and are already seeing donations of materials to the library, for example from the Association of Georgian Alumni of Swiss Universities, via the Swiss Embassy to Georgia.

4. What future plans do you have for it?

I suppose the word “sustainable” was never so meaningful as today. We see how the pandemic is testing the sustainability of our world and all countries at this time. Even our human nature is examined by these events, not only our urban and civic institutions.

On the other side, it is a really good example of why governments and citizens have to take more actions to establish stronger civil societies and structures.

To this end, we are planning to have seminars and programs for our readers. For example, seminars to raise awareness of basic human rights are already planned. Rights to health, women’s rights, and inclusivity will also be covered in our meetings. Lectures for professional development skills, among them skills for startups and project writing will be free for our readers.

Now we are preparing the course in basic programming skills as an online programme. We aim to have different programs that include different goals of sustainable development.

You know, people perceive the term SDG as something too official sometimes – we will try to make it more lively and understandable in the everyday life of citizens.

In fact, the SDG’s areas of focus are familiar to the public. For example, Zero Hunger (SDG1) is  certainly familiar. It is worth mentioning that The Equilibrium, a movement of the National Parliamentary Library of Georgia, works not only for the renewal of libraries but according to its means, delivers food and clothing to underprivileged citizens.

During the first wave lockdown of the Pandemic, Mr. Giorgi Kekelidze, General Director of the Library was working to help older people who didn’t have any possibility to go out and buy products. Of course, we have to mention that we need improvement of social programs in general in the future.

Another SDG is Quality Education (SDG4). The Movement is helping some students to obtain funding for their equipment or their study.  We have to look at SDG goals as ideas for new development programs.

5. What other opportunities have you had to engage with politicians in the work of libraries?

We are working hard to revive regional libraries. You know, we might bring new books and equipment, but salaries and annual budgets are paid by different regional municipalities and it has to be foreseen in their budget too. We have city municipal libraries and new modern media libraries in the city; we have three of them now. We are working with them when they need some support from us, for example, training, information about new standards, IFLA standards, and recommendations, etc.

6. What works well in getting politicians to become more interested and supportive of libraries?

You know, libraries play a crucial role in supporting democracy and ensuring equitable access to information. Libraries are the most democratic places in every country because they are open to all citizens and guests, serve multicultural societies, and ensure their access to information. They have to defend and store banned literature for generations in spite of today’s political views,  they have to improve the lives of underprivileged members, so democracy is an inbuilt characteristic of the library.

We are open to all political parties and institutions, who want to host events or attend them. The National Parliamentary Library of Georgia welcomes any guests, who play an important part in developing and supporting the independence of Georgian Statehood. We are one of the oldest and newest countries at the same time, which explains some turbulent events in the country. Our library has hosted many political events, discussions, presentations with the participation of all political sides.

7. What impact has this engagement had so far?

The pandemic made it clear that we need stronger digital services to reach our full audience. For example,  The National Parliamentary Library of Georgia has to defend its collections for further generations by the law. This time, our library received some financial support from the Parliament to implement needed software to add bar codes to printed materials and to make the lives of our readers easier.

On the other side, it is the space where members of different “bubbles” create the whole society.  Actually, all political representatives have been readers of our library. We also have had fruitful engagements with different embassies; their audiences are our readers as well. We welcome events with the participation of emigrants, parties, guests, who share their creativity and knowledge with each other. It is the place, where some members of our society meet each other for the first time.

We are always happy to see such events, which make their lives more versatile and joyful.  In the last few years, our audience has grown faster with different events for all kinds of readers.  We hope very much that the end of the pandemic will be celebrated with the whole library audience.

Copyright and Sustainable Development – Part 2: Applying the logic of sustainability to copyright

As highlighted in the first part of this blog, the United Nations 2030 Agenda represents a new approach to overall development policy.

That set out how the Agenda focuses on the full range of policy areas and countries (rather than a subset of each), and the interconnections between them. This stands in contrast to the Millennium Development Goals that ran from 2000 to 2015, underlining how every part of government, in every part of the world, has a responsibility to act. This of course includes copyright policy-makers.

In addition to this broader policy and geographical focus, the 2030 Agenda also emphasises the importance of cross-cutting principles in policy-making. Two examples of these are the importance of sustainability itself, and on the right of everyone to be able to fulfil their potential.

This second part therefore focuses on how these principles can apply in the making of copyright policy.

Sustainability: acting now, without prejudicing the future

At the heart of the idea of sustainability is the notion that the way we live today should not compromise the way we live tomorrow. It is most readily applied to the environmental field, where excessive use of resources now risks meaning that future generations live in a poorer, more polluted world.

Similar ideas apply in the economic and social fields. Economic expansion can be unsustainable, while allowing inequalities to deepen causes rifts which threaten social cohesion, as well as being associated with lost capacity to produce overall.

How does this apply to copyright? One side of the argument is that it is the protection that copyright provides that enables future creativity to take place. Without it, investments cannot be recouped, and new projects cannot be launched. When a company produces (publishes) a wider range of materials, the greater success of one (a bestseller) may help compensate for the fact that others will do less well.

At the same time, there is also the fact that the future health of the creative industries depends on there being a literate population, interested and engaged in buying what they have to offer. This, comes from having a strong education system with teachers well placed to develop skills among students, as well as institutions such as libraries which can instil a love of books and reading.

Similarly, the possibility to produce innovation tomorrow depends on students and researchers being able to access knowledge and work together today. This is particularly the case in countries currently experiencing lower levels of development, often accompanied by low literacy and innovation outputs.

Copyright reforms can support this all, freeing up teachers to use materials more freely, and enabling libraries to support them, as well as researchers, effectively.

As such, it is important, when developing copyright policies – including at WIPO – to ensure that the generation of additional revenues in order to recoup financial investments in creative content does not reduce the investment in the future represented by education and research.

The capabilities approach: delivering on the right to access information

Another concept close to the heart of the 2030 Agenda is that of the right of every individual to the capabilities necessary for development. Based on the thinking of Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum, this looks at whether people have the means to realise their own well-being, rather than simply having rights but no means of acting on them.

Arguably, part of this is the possibility for everyone to access the information that they need to improve their own situation, be it to gain new knowledge or skills, for health, or in order to innovate.

Schools, research institutions, libraries, archives, and museums have a key role here, turning the broad right of access to information into something actionable. Libraries indeed often have a mandate to serve everyone, providing possibilities for all, regardless of wealth, social status or other characteristics.

For example, libraries and schools which are enabled under copyright to carry out their work will be better able to serve their communities, including at distance. In turn, members of communities are better placed to take decisions, on their own behalf and on behalf of those around them.

While this access may not always be as simple as making a direct purchase of a book or other resource, it does help to ensure that no-one need be excluded from learning or research for want of money.

Crucially, for policy-makers, the challenge is to ensure that decisions taken around copyright law do not lead to doors being closed for individuals to access the information that can help them achieve their own well-being.


These two blogs have looked, from two different angles, at how the UN 2030 Agenda can feed into the way discussions about copyright, and in particular exceptions and limitations, are approached at WIPO.

As the first underlined, the breadth of the Sustainable Development Goals, and the interconnections between them, mean that not only do copyright policy-makers have a duty to act, but in doing so, they need to consider consequences on progress across the Agenda.

The second explored how cross-cutting ideas behind the Goals – in particular of sustainability itself, and the capabilities approach – are also relevant to the way we design copyright policies.

Both, hopefully, offer a fresh perspective on why balance matters in copyright, and what we need to bear in mind when working out what this looks like.

Copyright and Sustainable Development – Part 1: How a balanced copyright framework supports delivery of the 2030 Agenda

The United Nations 2030 Agenda and its 17 the Sustainable Development Goals set out a comprehensive policy roadmap towards a new, more sustainable model of development. It is designed to steer not only the work of the United Nations and its agencies, but also those of governments, and of all other stakeholders.

In contrast to the Millennium Development Goals that preceded it, the 2030 Agenda does not just focus on a sub-set of policy areas – the tasks of any one single ministry or agency – but on all of them.

Moreover, it highlights how essential it is to consider interlinkages – how actions taken in any one area may affect the achievement of policy goals elsewhere, for better or for worse.

This implies a responsibility. When taking decisions, broader consequences need to be taken into account.

The Agenda is also global, rather than concentrated only on the developing world, recognising the fact that the fates of countries are just as interlinked as different policy areas. This is not only clear in areas such as climate change or pandemic health, but also in wider questions of trade or tax policies.

As such, decisions about copyright, such as those discussed at the World Intellectual Property Organisation, should be based on consideration of the potential impacts on policy outcomes across the board, not just in any one single area.

Moreover, they should also reflect the interconnected nature of the world, avoiding the costs of misalignment and realising the potential of stronger coordination.

This blog – the first part of two – therefore looks at the different goals on which copyright policy decisions may have an impact, and in particular where balance between rights and exceptions (or even setting elements of copyright aside through open licensing) is important. The second part then considers how some of the cross-cutting themes present in the 2030 Agenda as a whole could apply in the way that we think about copyright in general.

Innovation (SDG9): perhaps the most obvious area where copyright – and intellectual property – is seen as having an effect is around the promotion of innovation. Clearly, innovation has a vital role. At its best, it offers new ways of doing things, requiring fewer resources. It is also essential to come up with solutions to new challenges (not least COVID).

The argument for intellectual property rights is that they enable investment in innovation by creating a means of ensuring a return. In other words, if someone cannot make money from inventing or creating things, they may not be able to do it in the first place.

However, as the global shift towards open science underlines, downstream innovation – in terms of new products or ways of doing things – can in fact benefit from greater openness upstream. When the sharing of research findings and data is restricted or slowed, so too is the pace of new discovery, be it for products, or for responding to grand challenges such as climate change or pandemics.

Education and Skills (SDG4, 8): another area where there is already focus on the role of copyright is in access to education. There are strong efforts to argue that easier possibilities to licence content, as well as the development of local copyright industries, will overcome inequities faced.

At the same time, teachers, both in the formal and informal/non-formal education systems often rely not on specifically created educational outputs, but rather materials from everyday life that are freely available online in order to help students learn. The rise of the open educational resources movement is creating new possibilities for teachers themselves to create and share tools among peers.

Such uses do not imply any loss of sales, while educators are better able to focus on instruction when they benefit from rules that do not add complexity or cost. Crucially, they do contribute to improved educational outcomes, in turn supporting wider economic development and so the market for copyrighted products.

Sustainable Consumption (SDG12): an area less frequently talked about, but where copyright law could contribute, is around reducing waste. In particular, there has been the  rise of calls for a ‘right to repair’, focussing on the value of making it easier to fix products, without needing to risk infringing copyright, for example through correcting software, or even accessing repair manuals. In short, making it easier to repair goods is likely to give them a longer life, reducing the demand for new production.

Open Government (SDG16): the SDGs emphasise the importance of openness and transparency in government as a means of enabling citizen participation and improving outcomes. A central pillar of this is the open publishing of public sector information, from legal texts to budgets and beyond.

This is also an area for copyright, given that unless exempted, government texts too are covered. When such texts or databases are be kept behind paywalls, citizens face barriers – insurmountable for some – to exercise their right to democratic participation.

Research Cooperation (SDG17): in addition to the emphasis on innovation in SDG9, SDG17 focuses on partnerships for the goals, and in particular the possibility for research and knowledge cooperation across borders.

While specific agreements to transfer IP, or to give access to copyrighted materials to institutions in developing countries may help, they are necessarily narrow, and risk leaving many left out, also then limiting scope for cooperation. Broader possibilities to share materials in the context of cross-border research, without the uncertainty that unaligned copyright laws create, would expand the scope for new collaborations.

Digital Inclusion (SDG5, 9, 17): the 2030 Agenda recognises the importance of technology as an enabler of development, not just in dedicated targets concerning connectivity, but also when looking at data around usage. Clearly, an important determinant of how useful being online is to someone is whether they are able to access digital content and services.

Among the varieties of content available, online learning is a clear example, as is the possibility to access the collections of libraries and museums. During the pandemic, indeed, digital access has been the only means of doing this for many who cannot afford to buy content directly. Copyright laws can have a determining impact on the possibilities that providers and users have to benefit from these possibilities.

Safeguarding Cultural Heritage (SDG11): finally, the SDGs highlight the importance of safeguarding cultural heritage. This is of course a core function of libraries, archives and museums, which increasingly use digital technologies in order to preserve materials for the future.

However, digital preservation involves copying, and so copyright itself. Unless there are possibilities in law to make copies, the preservation decisions of these institutions are likely to be guided more by what implies least risk or least cost, rather than what is most important.


These represent just some areas where the way in which governments strike a balance in copyright, at the national and international levels, can make a difference to development outcomes. Indeed, the SDGs arguably provide a structure, a checklist even, for thinking through the merits of the decisions that are taken.

In part 2, we turn away from individual SDGs, and to a couple of the principles that underpin the entire 2030 Agenda, notably sustainability and the right to development.

Dates for the diary: advocacy moments over the rest of 2021

A key challenge in advocating for libraries is that you can be working across a huge range of issues. Libraries are cultural, educational, scientific, and civic actors, all at once.

While this means that there are many situations in which libraries have a relevant contribution to make, it can also mean that it is hard to find a focus, or construct a programme of ongoing advocacy activities.

One thing that can help in this is to structure activities around key dates.

Sometimes, there is an important event, with major media interest, taking place. If you are ‘present’ – through social media, articles or op eds, or other tools – you can look particularly relevant for partners, as well as build awareness within the field.

At other times, a day has been declared to be an international observance, meaning that among global – and often national – institutions, there is a special focus on the relevant theme. By engaging, you can underline libraries’ relevance, as well as potentially build new partnerships.

This blog sets ot some key dates and observances between now and the end of 2021. You don’t need to plan something for each one of these of course, and you certainly don’t need to do anything big!

However, as above, even just by posting on social media, you can help show the connection between libraries and the major global issues these dates mark. And if you can do more, all the better!

In each case, there is also a note about IFLA’s own current plans.

8 September – International Literacy Day (link): a particularly relevant day for libraries, this is an opportunity to focus on showing our institutions’ contribution to building literacy (and literacies) at all ages. This year is focused in particular on closing the digital divide. Think about examples you can share that show how libraries help achieve the global commitment to driving universal literacy!

IFLA’s Literacy and Reading Section will be planning publications, and Headquarters will be sharing new research into how libraries feature in collected good practices. Hashtag: #LiteracyDay

15 September – International Day of Democracy (link): a great opportunity to set out how libraries are promoting healthy civic life and participation in decision-making, through everything from enabling parliaments to work effectively to facilitating access to open data, providing information literacy skills, and welcoming debates and discussions in the library. Hashtag: #Democracy

17-29 September – SDG Action Week (link): what is your library or association doing to deliver on the SDGs? Share it via the tools prepared for SDG Action Week by the UN-supported SDG Action Campaign. There are also lots of great tools for social media and beyond, helping you both to underline the need to deliver on the 2030 Agenda, and to show how libraries are making a difference! Hashtag: #Act4SDGs

26 September – 2 October – Banned Books Week (link (ALA) and link (Amnesty International USA)): the mission of libraries to provide access to the widest possible range of materials to their users does not sit well with censorship, be it offline or online. Banned Books Week is an opportunity to highlight the reality of restrictions on expression today and their impact, as well as to resist censorship.

IFLA’s Advisory Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression (FAIFE) will be involved, but take a look at the links to see what the American Library association and Amnesty International USA have planned. Hashtag: #BannedBooksWeek

28 September – International Day for the Universal Access to Information (link): only recently created as a UN-recognised day, the International Day for the Universal Access to Information grew out of work to promote rules on access to government information. It has since expanded to cover all information which can help people to develop.

This year, IFLA, through its regional office for Latin America and the Caribbean, is supporting this year’s celebrations by organising an official event in Buenos Aires. Follow this – and the other events – and use the day to highlight the importance of libraries’ work to provide access to information! Hashtag: #AccessToInfoDay

October – Urban October (link): starting with World Habitat Day on 4 October, and closing with World Cities Day on 31 October, Urban October is focused on the importance of working at the local and regional levels in order to deliver on development, led by UN HABITAT. There is a strong focus this year on climate change and climate resilience, with COP26 coming up (see below!). You can register events on the Urban October website also if you want to organise something! Hashtag: #UrbanOctober

24 October – World Development Information Day (link): this day is about the importance of sharing information in order to raise awareness of and interest in development challenges around the world. As such, it is a perfect opportunity for libraries to underline their own role in supporting learning and engagement in the wider world! IFLA will make posts on the day – you can also! Hashtag: to be announced

24-31 October – Global Media and Information Literacy Week (link): this is another recent addition to the UN calendar, but has been run by UNESCO already for a number of years with strong library engagement. IFLA will be looking to contribute to global events, and we encourage others to hold their own activities or gatherings in order to promote media and information literacy, and the role of libraries in delivering it. See already our save-the-date post! Hashtag: #GlobalMILWeek

27 October – World Day for Audiovisual Heritage (link): recognized by UNESCO, this is an opportunity to recognise the uniqueness and the importance of audiovisual heritage, what it brings to societies, and what is needed to safeguard it. IFLA will be marking the day, and we hope that libraries and associations working with it will join the effort to raise awareness to ensure audiovisual heritage gets the attention it deserves. Hashtag: #AudiovisualHeritage

1-12 November – COP26 (link): delayed from last year, this is a key meeting in delivering on the Paris Agreement on climate change, where governments and others will meet to discuss accelerating climate action. IFLA, as a member of the Climate Heritage Network, will be closely involved in underlining the role of culture and cultural institutions in progress. There is likely to be major attention to climate change issues during this time, and so it’s an important opportunity both to show what libraries can contribute, and to join wider calls for action! See our blogs about climate change, and the work of our Section on Environment, Sustainability and Libraries for more. Hashtag: #COP26, #ClimateHeritage

9-24 November – UNESCO General Conference (link): this is the major biennial meeting of UNESCO’s Member States, taking the opportunity to set the budget and the agenda of the organisation, as well as to discuss key current trends. With libraries engaged in many of UNESCO’s priorities, IFLA engages across a wide range of the Organisation’s work. In advance of the event, we will be encouraging members to get in touch with their UNESCO National Commissions in order to share library priorities. Find out more in our news piece about the Year of Creative Economy, and our guide to the 2005 Convention on Cultural Diversity. Hashtag: #UNESCO

6-10 December – Internet Governance Forum 2021 (link): the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is an opportunity for governments, experts and stakeholders to talk about key issues in the way that the internet is run today, and what improvements could be made to support development. This is an area of major interest for libraries, both given our use of the internet to support access to information, and the relevance of our values in this space. You will be able to join (online or in person at this stage) to listen into the perspectives shared and issues raised – including a side-event on libraries! – or even look out for national IGF meetings. Hashtag: #IGF2021

10 December – Human Rights Day (link): while the theme of these year’s Human Rights Day is not yet known, this is always an opportunity to highlight the connection between the activities of libraries and the delivery of human rights for all. This of course includes the right of access to information, but also to education, privacy, culture and science. IFLA will be marking the day, working with our Advisory Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression – think about what you can do! Hashtag: #StandUp4Human Rights

The 10-Minute International Librarian #49: Think about setting up an SDG Book Club

Books – and so the libraries that provide equitable access to them – can be a great way of discovering and engaging with new ideas.

This is particular the case for children, given the ability of books to open new horizons and raise new questions about key issues.

And are no sets of issues more critical for the future than the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDG Book Club brings together the UN, publishers, libraries and booksellers in order to promote a list of books in all six UN languages, for each of the 17 SDGs.

They provide a starting point for teachers, librarians and parents in helping young people to think about the world.

But you don’t just have to rely on the official selection!

For our 49th 10-Minute International Librarian exercise, think about setting up an SDG Book Club.

What books can you think of that help get people thinking about the issues in the SDGs, in your language, and ideally which are relevant to your users?

What steps will you need to take to get there? Who can you work with – publishers? Organisations promoting books for young people? UN offices?

There are resources on the SDG Book Club page on the United Nations website, as well as information about how to get your club listed on the UN website.

Share your ideas in the comments below!


This idea relates to the IFLA Strategy! 1.1 Show the power of libraries in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals .

As we publish more ideas, you will be able to view these using the #10MinuteInternationalLibrarian tag on this blog, and of course on IFLA’s Ideas Store! Do also share your ideas in the comments box below.

The 10-Minute International Librarian #47: (Re)read the Sustainable Development Goals

It’s clear – sometimes high-level policy documents can seem a long way away from day-to-day work.

They deal in big ideas and big concepts, and can feel too much to do much about on your own.

At the same time, they can also offer an opportunity to think into the long term, as well as understand the ideas – and words – that preoccupy those in power.

As such, they can be a motivator for action, as well as a tool for advocacy.

There are few better examples than the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – 17 high level objectives, running over 15 years.

While the overall 2030 Agenda, set out in a UN Resolution from 2015, comes to over 30 pages, the goals themselves are easy to read and understand.

So for our 47th 10-Minute international Librarian exercise, (re)read the Sustainable Development Goals.

You may well already have gone through them once or twice, but it can be surprisingly useful to refresh your memory.

Sometimes you will spot possibilities or connections you did not see before. Sometimes it’s just useful to have the reminder of the global goals that all governments have committed to work to achieve.

By looking through all of them, you can also think about how wide the contribution of great libraries to societies, economies and culture can be.

Share your experiences of using the SDGs in your thinking and planning in the comments below.

Good luck!


This idea relates to the IFLA Strategy! 1.1 Show the power of libraries in delivering the Sustainable Development Goals.

As we publish more ideas, you will be able to view these using the #10MinuteInternationalLibrarian tag on this blog, and of course on IFLA’s Ideas Store! Do also share your ideas in the comments box below.