International Insights

Advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Experiences of international academic and research libraries

Opportunities for Academic and Research Libraries to Advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals—Loida Garcia-Febo, International Library Consultant

In January 2016 the United Nations (UN) launched new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)1 to guide development efforts worldwide. In the years leading up to this launch, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) participated in the UN Open Working Group meetings held to discuss the way forward for a new development plan once the Millennium Development Goals ended in December 2015. IFLA advocated for culture, information and communication technologies (ICTs), and access to information to be included in the SDGs.

As a nongovernmental organization with consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council, a UN Major Group, IFLA was able to send delegations to participate in post-2015 Millennium Development Goals activities. The IFLA president, Governing Board members, and staff members were able to secure alliances with other civil society groups, and met with countries’ permanent representatives to the UN to raise the profile of libraries and our core principle of providing access to information. Thanks to this work and to global teams of library advocates connecting with nationally-elected officers at country levels, in coordination with the colleagues at the UN, we were able to achieve a historical win for libraries.2 The end result is reflected in Objective 16.10, which is part of Goal 16 Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions: “Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.”

As per IFLA’s Lyon Declaration,3 “Public access to information enables people to make informed decisions that can improve their lives. Communities that have access to timely and relevant information for all are better positioned to eradicate poverty and inequality, improve agriculture, provide quality education, and support people’s health, culture, research, and innovation.” Academic and research libraries in all parts of the world are essential in providing information access to academic communities, and promoting SDGs to drive development along with all types of libraries. They can partner with civil society groups, local government, and other libraries to establish joint initiatives.

One potential partnership is with The Open Science Lab, hosted by the National Library of Finland, that enables open access to research publications, and research data and methods used in research, which advances Goal 9: “Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.”4

Academic and research libraries on their own and in collaboration with others play a significant role in providing access to data, research, and knowledge that supports scholarship, learning, and innovation. While the published literature includes more examples of the work of public libraries in sustainable development, examples of academic and research libraries, such as those found here, are starting to be documented.


  1. United Nations. Sustainable Development Goals.
  2. International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. Libraries and the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda. n-2030-agenda-toolkit.pdf.
  3. International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. Lyon Declaration.
  4. International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. Access and Opportunity for All: How libraries contribute to the United Nations 2030 Agenda.

South Korean Academic Libraries: Advancing Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure—Ju Hee Kim, Seoul National University Library

South Korean university libraries are making contributions to the UN SDGs in matters of higher education, that is, Goal 8. Here, I address their contributions to advancing Goal 9 which emphasizes industry, innovation, and infrastructure powered by technologies, recognizing that the advancement of technologies cannot be discussed without the nationwide R&D efforts mainly led by the government, industries, universities, and their libraries.

Presently, the government of South Korea is keen to bring about the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which emphasizes Digital Transformation, Going Digital, or Next Production. As of July 19, 2017, the government announced its new vision with five goals and 20 strategies, which includes achieving sustainable economic growth, propelled by industrial development and technological innovation.

Government agencies and foundations are thus accelerating their actions. The Ministry of Education released its 2017 work plan that prioritizes innovation in teaching and learning to foster more creative and multidisciplinary education. It also plans to provide more funds and grants for university start-ups and R&D projects to create more value out of the universities’ source technologies and research output.

Universities are working to strengthen their global competencies and collaborations with diverse partners. They are devoting themselves to supporting researchers and experts who are capable of driving sustainable industrialization and building resilient infrastructure. University administrations are reviewing their policies to make them more effective and to allocate their budgets more efficiently. R&DB (Research and Development Board) Foundations are helping researchers with technology licensing and providing guidelines for their technical consultancy activities.

In this context, the roles and responsibilities of university libraries are expanding and changing. South Korean academic libraries are taking their responsibilities more seriously than ever to provide access to quality and related resources with relevant skills and tools. Systems and services are getting more sophisticated and customized, yet easier and faster thanks to technology and resource sharing.

As one of the leading universities in South Korea, Seoul National University is also concentrating on maximizing its research impact and promoting collaborations with domestic and global institutions. A new research project management system called S-RnD was developed last year, and its international campus will open in 2019. It will be mainly oriented to cutting-edge technology research and university-industry collaborations, such as smart technologies and autonomous mobility, and biomedical and shipbuilding industries.

With the recognition of the importance and necessity of research performance analysis, the library launched a new project to build an integrated research performance management platform last year. It consists of a researcher profile database, performance analysis system, and academic information recommendation system, which is connected to various resources and repositories. It is expected to provide better understanding of the university’s research competency, and enables the university members and units to make better informed decisions and promote outcomes and collaborations with broader communities.

Academic libraries help researchers throughout the cycle of research. They provide access to a multitude of resources, teach how to use them, manage data, and promote research output and preservation, so its value is amplified and of benefit to society.

Importance of Partnerships in Academic and Research Libraries in Implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals: An Indian Perspective—Lallaisangzuali, Central Library, Mizoram University, India, and Vinita Jain, Maharshi Dayanand College of Arts, Science and Commerce, Mumbai, India

Over the last two decades, India has remarkably transformed its higher education landscape. It has created widespread access to a low-cost, high-quality university education for students of all levels. India has undertaken large-scale reforms to improve faculty-student ratios by making teaching an attractive career path, expanding capacity for doctoral students at research universities, and delinking educational qualifications from teaching eligibility.

With the world being more interconnected than ever before, access to technology and knowledge is important for sharing ideas and fostering innovation. A successful agenda to advance the UN SDGs (or 2030 Agenda) requires partnership among government, private sector, educational institutions, and civil society. Some of the initiatives taken by the Government of India for the promotion of education and research are:

  • NITI Aayog ( has undertaken “a mapping of schemes” of SDGs and their targets, with the lead and supporting ministries for each target. Its government-wide approach emphasizes the interconnected nature of SDGs across economic, social, and environmental pillars.
  • e-ShodhSindhu ( provides access to more than 15,000 core and peer-reviewed journals and a number of bibliographic, citation, and factual databases in different disciplines from a large number of publishers and aggregators to its member institutions.
  • E-PG Pathshala ( is a gateway to post-graduate e-content in 77 subjects at postgraduate level, is an initiative of the National Mission on Education through Information and Communication and Technology.
  • NPTEL (, the National Program on Technology Enabled Learning, is a joint initiative of the Indian Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institute of Science, which provides about 1,000 free online courses. NPTEL takes the credit of world’s most accessed educational channel with more than 280 million in viewership.
  • NDL India ( is a virtual repository of learning resources designed to hold content of any language and provides an interface in leading Indian languages.
  • SWAYAM ( is an online platform providing opportunities for a lifelong learner.
  • SWAYAM Prabha Channel ( is a group of 32 DTH channels devoted to telecasting 24 hours of high-quality educational programs using the GSAT-15 satellite.
  • University Grants Commission (UGC) (Online Education) Regulations, 2017 ( allows students to obtain a UGC-recognized degree online. Libraries in institutions offering approved online degrees need to provide online information resources and user instruction.

Some areas for libraries to partner in order to achieve the UN 2030 agenda include:

  1. Train librarians to create e-content and deliver information at the right time to the right user.
  2. Train researchers to generate quality research and showcase their work to society via libraries.
  3. Identify and support innovation in small and rural areas. Local literate people can assist the elderly to document local knowledge and practices, with the help of nearby research/academic libraries, to ensure their preservation.
  4. Collaborate with public libraries to develop services for independent researchers in order to advance idea development outside of academia.
  5. Promote SDGs by training patrons on how they can engage in advancing them.

Advancing UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 on Education in Jamaica—Yolanda Tugwell, The University of the West Indies-Mona

In Jamaica, Vision 2030 is the national strategic roadmap to guide the government in its attainment of the UN SDGs by 2030. Its Vision Statement speaks to Jamaica being seen as the place of choice to live, work, raise families, and do business. Vision 2030 is the impetus for the implementation of SDGs in alignment with the four national goals:

  • Jamaicans are empowered to achieve their fullest potential.
  • The Jamaican society is secure, cohesive, and just.
  • Jamaica’s economy is prosperous.
  • Jamaica has a healthy natural environment.1

Jamaica worked with the United Nations Development Programme MAPS (Mainstreaming, Acceleration and Policy Support) Mission in October 2016 to align its Vision 2030 Development Plan with SDGs. This exercise revealed that Jamaica’s planning documents reflect a 91% alignment with the 115 SDG targets.2

A Caribbean Regional Workshop of the IFLA International Advocacy Programme, themed “Libraries, Development and the Implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda” was held February 16-18, 2017, in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Representatives from ten Caribbean countries from public libraries and library associations met and discussed the ways libraries can contribute to the UN 2030 Agenda and SDGs. This workshop has fueled, sensitized, and educated library personnel with ideas to apply SDGs.

The Library and Information Association of Jamaica has added its voice to the discussion by indicating to the government of Jamaica that libraries need to be included and recognized for their very important contributions to development in areas such as education. Libraries provide information for people to be able to develop their communities.

The Jamaican Government in partnership with The University of the West Indies (UWI) and the UN hosted a meeting on June 28-30, 2017. Eighteen Caribbean countries met at the “Caribbean Action 2030” meeting, where UWI Vice Chancellor Hilary Beckles stated that, “The realization of the SDGs will be intellectually exciting and operationally challenging, but working together they are more than attainable.”3 This is seen as a step in the right direction, which will aid SDGs implementation in the region.

The Global Alliance for Partnerships on Media and Information Literacy is one area in which academic libraries in Jamaica can be included by embarking on media and information literacy workshops to educate tertiary-level students and train them with updated ICT skills and other competencies, such as the ability to critically evaluate information and use it wisely on the Internet. At UWI-Mona, this is realized through compulsory two-hour information literacy library sessions with the Foundation English courses each semester.

These sessions allow librarians to assist students in being independent information users which make them far more accountable learners, and in turn, foster positive development. During Global Media and Information Literacy Week 2017, a conference will be held October 24–27, 2017, in Kingston, Jamaica, with special emphasis on youth.

There will be a forum at the UWI-Mona, an active partner in this conference. Academic libraries playing a part in advancing the SDGs is essential as an educated populace is crucial for development.


  1. Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ). “Executive Summary.” Accessed August 23, 2017.
  2. Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN). “A road map for SDG implementation in Jamaica.” Accessed August 23, 2017,
  3. UWI Nexus. “The 17 SDGs addressed at Caribbean Action 2030.” Accessed August 23, 2017.
Copyright Loida Garcia-Febo, Ju Hee Kim, Lallaisangzuali Sailo, Vinita Jain, Yolanda Tugwell

Article Views (Last 12 Months)

No data available

Contact ACRL for article usage statistics from 2010-April 2017.

Article Views (By Year/Month)

January: 40
February: 55
March: 70
April: 97
May: 140
June: 162
July: 24
April: 0
May: 0
June: 0
July: 0
August: 0
September: 0
October: 240
November: 158
December: 35