15 July 2017
No Truly Sustainable Development Without Access to Information, and No Meaningful, Inclusive Access Without Libraries
In the context of the United Nations High Level Political Forum (UN HLPF), and in preparation for the launch of the first Development and Access to Information (DA2I) Report, IFLA and the United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld Library (DHL) held a side event on 13 July at the heart of the UN’s New York Headquarters.
The DA2I side event “2030 Vision: How Libraries Support the UN’s Work on Sustainable Development” was a unique opportunity to highlight and illustrate the major role of libraries in delivering effective and meaningful access to information driving progress for development at the national and global levels.
The event kicked off with a welcome from the host, Thanos Giannakopoulos, Chief of the DHL. He recognized DA2I as an ambitious endeavour that offers inspiration as well as a roadmap for changing and transforming communities through libraries. As he underlined, “Libraries, supported by policies, can advance the SDGs. The achievement of the SDGs can only be advanced by access”.
The introduction was followed by a lead intervention by IFLA President Donna Scheeder, outlining IFLA’s advocacy work to ensure the inclusion of access to information in the UN 2030 Agenda. She explained why it is crucial for governments to invest in libraries, and give them the laws they need, if they are to leverage them as invaluable partners in development. She remarked that “there is no truly sustainable development without access to information, and no meaningful, inclusive access to information without libraries. The DA2I report, to be launched next Monday, makes the case”.
Maria Garrido (Senior Researcher at the Technology and Social Change Group, University of Washington) spoke about the DA2I Report. Her intervention introduced the DA2I project and first report, and focused particularly in the conceptual framework, including the dimensions that influence access to information and its ability to advance the SDGs. She set out details about the baseline indicators of the first DA2I report and next steps, but stressed: “We need more data, and we need better data, and the DA2I report is a first step to achieve this”.
With a presentation “Putting (UN) information to work on the ground – the case of Ghana”, Helena Asamoah-Hassan (Executive Director of the African Library and Information Associations and Institutions - AfLIA) showed how the work of libraries in Africa is driving progress towards the achievement of different SDGs, particularly quality education, gender equality and inclusive societies.
The event included the participation of development experts working for the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), who offered their perspectives on access to information and libraries: Sami Areikat, (Sustainable Development Officer, Division for Sustainable Development), Richard Alexander Roehrl (Senior Economic Affairs Officer, Division for Sustainable Development), and Wenyan Yang (Chief of Service, Social Perspective on Development Branch). In their interventions they shared experiences related to the information access needed to perform their work and highlighted the key role libraries play in facilitating policy-relevant research. Libraries were crucial for work on the SDGs at the highest level.
The event closed with a wrap-up by DHL Chief and a discussion co-moderated with Stephen Wyber, IFLA Manager of Policy and Advocacy.
The Development and Access to Information (DA2I) Report, produced by IFLA in partnership with TASCHA, will be launched on 17 July in New York.
You can find out more about the report, and sign up to receive a notification when the report is ready for download, on the dedicated website: DA2I.ifla.org.