EBLIDA Activities on Sustainable Development Goals in Europe02 April 2019
Sustainability is no longer an issue to be dealt with in small circles or specialized departments. The catastrophic results of climate change are visible anywhere in the world. The concept of sustainability is slowly, but firmly penetrating all social and economic arenas. Under the pressure of NGOs, economic actors, in particular if multinational, are discovering the importance of preparing Sustainability Plans that are often followed by publicly available Sustainability Reports. Central banks, the financial sector and regulatory authorities are re-directing investments towards green objectives or low carbon assets. Ms Ursula von der Leyen, the new President of the European Commission, has put the environment first in her plans for the next five years and committed herself to promote a European Green Deal, a carbon border tax and a zero-pollution future.
Ecological concerns and social emergency are not the only drives behind the UN Sustainable Development Goals. SDG 16, for instance, is focused on Peace, Justice and strong Institutions. And the notions of democratic developments, equal access to information and social inclusion are at the heart of each of the seventeen SDGs. Libraries are per excellence sustainable agencies. All what they do - education, culture, inclusion, integration – is pivotal for the development of a sustainable society.
Despite this, libraries’ administrative culture on sustainability is quite faulty. There are certainly libraries preparing Sustainable Reports or Sustainability sections within their Annual reports, but this is not (yet) a widespread practice. Libraries’ participation to sustainability projects is a story to tell, but not (yet) a policy to pursue, an overall scheme to implement, or a statistical report impacting on sustainability indicators.
Nowadays, many libraries are getting involved in sustainability plans. A sustainable library, however, is not only a library using an energy-saving heating system. It is a library which is embarked upon a vision where the needs of future generations are not compromised by the needs and the lifestyle of the current generation. It is a library promoting a future where the disruption of human values is not an option. It is also a library which is re-orienting its objectives, enlarging its scope and convincingly implementing its social mission alongside a sustainability vision.
And here is the role EBLIDA may play. The EU 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is slightly different from that of the UN. Goals are the same, but they are adapted to the relative wealth of the European continent. This is quite self-explanatory: No poverty (SDG 1), for instance, is not the same if poverty is fought in Berlin or in Dakar. Nations are trying to attain each of the Goals differently because there are large differences, both in terms of GDP and in sustainability priorities, among countries. Moreover, in Europe, a large panoply of instruments may well serve all actors working for sustainability, and libraries among them.
Within the framework of the newly approved 2019-2022 Strategic Plan, EBLIDA may work out the instruments that libraries could use to implement sustainability plans. It could reinforce an administrative culture through the diffusion of appropriate tools and well-constructed policies.