Topical Guides 

Sustainability and Academic Libraries

This guide contains useful information resources to understand sustainability across Europe. It also includes information resources related to sustainability in libraries and links to publications relevant to the Are Libraries Green?: Sustainability in Academic Libraries event. The information guide will be continuously amended and expanded as required.

Further Information

In 2015, all United Nations Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which highlights 17 key areas of focus in creating a more equitable, peaceful, and prosperous society, while mitigating climate change and safeguarding planetary ecosystems. These 17 Sustainable Development Goals have since become central to the strategies of many international organisations.

The European Green Deal was approved by the European Commission in 2020, with an aim of reaching climate neutrality in the European Union by 2025. The Green Deal focuses on the development of a sustainable circular economy and the greening of the construction and aviation industries, as well as developing more sustainable energy, transportation, and food systems.

Sustainability, from a policy perspective, includes economy, industry, and finance, as well as environmental conservation and support for biodiversity.

Universities across the world have joined with government and industry to declare a climate emergency and set in place policies and strategies for sustainable development. The library sector has also recently begun to include sustainability in its remit.  Many academic and research libraries in Europe and the UK are beginning to use the UN’s SDGs to orient their own Climate Actions Plans.

EU Policy response to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Following up on the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the European Commission led by Jean-Claude Juncker adopted in November 2016 a Communication in response to it. It explained how the Commission’s ten political priorities contributed to implementing the Agenda and how the European Union (EU) would meet the SDGs in the future. It also announced the launch of a high-level multi-stakeholder platform aimed at following up and exchanging best practices on the implementation of SDGs. In January 2019, the Juncker Commission adopted another Communication providing an overview of its contribution to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as part of a wider debate on the future of the European Union. It outlined the main policy highlights and provided a list of different actions that were taken on each of the SDGs.

The SDGs were an integral part of the political guidelines presented by Ursula von der Leyen in 2019 as the new President of the European Commission. Notably, the Commission adopted the European Green Deal in 2019, a roadmap seeking to aimed at resetting the Commission’s commitment to tackling climate and environmental-related challenges. This umbrella strategy sought to embed climate change and environmental concerns in all policy areas.


International Organisations

  • International Labour Organization (ILO)

European Union institutions and agencies

  • European Council and Council of the European Union

Other European institutions

Interest Groups & Professional Networks

Media Reporting

Opinion and Analysis

Libraries and universities