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Think Global Act Local: SDG Symposium for the GLAM sector



ALIA and the Newcastle Regional Library sponsored this symposium on 30 October at the historic Newcastle City Hall. The presentations started with the international perspective and carried on from the national to state to local.

Chris Woodthorpe, United Nations representative for the Oceania region opened the day with an overview of the United Nations 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. He started his presentation with compelling reasons why we all need to be engaged in working for a sustainable future for the planet. Two of the reasons he gave were that in the next 10 years there will be an extra 1 billion people; and in 30 years, the weight of plastics in the ocean will be greater than the weight of fish. The UN’s goal is that no one is left behind.

All nations have signed up to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 178 targets. This is a lot. He simplified this for us by talking about how the SDGs can be allocated to the 5 Ps - People, Prosperity, Place, Partnership and Planet. The next stage of the UN2030 Agenda is about taking promises to action. He encouraged us as librarians to consider how all the SDGs are related and how we can particularly influence SDGs relating to education, gender equality, cultural heritage and digital literacy.

I spoke next on how IFLA is working with the library field to advocate for the SDGs and libraries. Access to information is absolutely essential to achieving the goals and libraries are well positioned to be able to work with partners to contribute to achieving the SDG targets. Print and digital literacy are the key to ensuring that no one is left behind. I also talked about the Library Map of the World and how that is being developed as an advocacy tool to promote the work of libraries relating to the SDGs.

Sue McKerracher, CEO of ALIA, described how ALIA is working with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to promote the important work that libraries do to helping achieve the targets and reported how libraries are mentioned in Australia’s 2018 voluntary country review. ALIA is being recognised internationally for the way that it has positioned libraries in government in relation to the SDGs.

Mylee Joseph shared how State Library of New South Wales staff helped her prepare her presentation by playing SDG bingo. She outlined a number of state-wide initiatives including a newly released research project undertaken with the University of NSW on the role of public libraries and pre-literacy, and linked these to the SDGs.

The Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Nuatali Nelmes, brought the morning to a close with a presentation on how Newcastle City Council has embraced the SDGs and incorporated them into the City’s 2030 Planning process. The strategic goals of the city are mapped to the SDGs and therefore are making the global local and the local global.

The afternoon was spent discussing how the GLAM sector could work together on different problems and issues that were identified and ended with a presentation on two projects that will be further explored.

The day was very successful and a real tribute to the Newcastle City Librarian, Suzie Gately and the Manager of Programs, Alex Mills who were responsible for organising the event in collaboration with ALIA.


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