The Road to New York: Preparations Begin for the 2018 High Level Political Forum

Camille Delaune, Vesna Vuksan, Raphaelle Bats, Stephen Wyber​In the first of five regional forums on the Sustainable Development Goals, the importance of access to information as a driver of progress was clear. Delegates from Europe and North America, meeting in Geneva on 1-2 March, heard about the contribution of libraries to building sustainable cities and communities, and met with library representatives.

Ahead of the High Level Political Forum, the key annual event for monitoring progress on the UN’s 2030 Agenda, each of the United Nations’ five regional economic and social commissions is organising a meeting. These gatherings of governments, civil society organisations and experts allow a more focused look at implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They also help prepare the voluntary national reviews that 47 countries will undertake this year, sharing ideas and experience on national efforts to promote development.

First Stop: Geneva

The first meeting took place in Geneva on 1-2 March, organised by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), which also covers North America.

An IFLA delegation made up of International Leader’s Programme Associate Vesna Vuksan, International Advocacy Programme participants Raphaëlle Bats and Camille Delaune, and Manager, Policy and Advocacy, Stephen Wyber attended, playing an active role in shaping joint civil society statements, participating in side events, and networking with delegates from countries and UN agencies.

With SDG11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities – in focus in 2018, the meeting was an opportunity to discuss how to build better, more inclusive living environments. Other focus SDGs this year include SDG 6 (water), SDG 7 (energy), SDG 12 (sustainable consumption), and SDG 15 (life on land).

A Promising Start

In addition to a call in a closing statement to the meeting to strengthen access to information to empower citizens, IFLA representatives used the opportunity to build up links with key government officials responsible for implementing the Sustainable Development Goals. In line with the objectives of the International Advocacy Programme, this will help ensure that libraries are reflected in national development plans and strategies. In those European countries undertaking voluntary national reviews, these links are timely.

The next regional meeting will cover Asia-Pacific, taking place in Bangkok on 28-30 March. IFLA will be represented, and looks forward to sharing information on how Asian libraries are making the difference in SDG implementation.