During these past weeks I’ve been advocating about libraries and access to information, along with colleagues from IFLA, at events related to the Sustainable Development Summit which took place as part of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). I was able to have meaningful conversations with UN Member States, representatives from NGOs, civil society, private corporations and public agencies. All the Summit events including opening, statements from countries and adoption of the SDGs should be available on the UN Web TV.
I was fortunate to have been approved by the U.N. to attend the Sunday morning Summit plenary at the UNGA Hall where Presidents and Prime Ministers gave statements supporting the SDGs goals and targets and shared what their countries are doing to establish and implement the SDGs. A number of them included remarks about Goal 16. The President from Bosnia and Herzegovina mentioned that the world in 2030 should be a place where we respect human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction of any kind. The President of Bulgaria emphasized that Bulgaria will make every effort to foster peaceful and inclusive societies according to the rule of law. The Prime Minister of Italy said that his country is basing its national development plans on the five Ps and also peace keeping; they support Goal 16 just, peaceful and inclusive societies. The Prime Minister of Belgium expressed that freedom of expression, civil society and rule of law are very important to his country. Peace and security as well. He also said, “access to information for sustainable development should be encouraged,” which is a very positive statement for libraries and librarians because we provide access to millions around the globe.
On Tuesday, September 29, IFLA along with IREX and NYPL hosted Connecting the Next 4 Billion a successful reception to discuss why inclusive access to information and technology is imperative to meet the new development agenda, and how community spaces like libraries are already implementing this vision. I was happy to hear about how much attendees liked the event and the speakers. As a Governing Board Member of IFLA, it was fantastic to greet and engage in encouraging talks with attendees along with IFLA President Donna Scheeder, and IFLA Deputy Secretary General, Stuart Hamilton.
Although I’ve been advocating at the U.N. since January 2014 and my colleagues, our amazing global team and I are ecstatic that Target 16.10 of the SDGs reflects our advocacy efforts, I believe our work is only starting. We, the global library community, must continue working together to position libraries within the national development plans of each country. Together we can make it happen!
16.10 Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements