At Frankfurter Buchmesse: Publishers Endorse a New SDG Compact

In News by Porter Anderson

With 10 years to go on the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, the IPA and Frankfurter Buchmesse have initiated a program for publishers’ participation and commitment.

Image: United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

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‘Publishers Can Play Such an Important Role’
Today (October 14) at Frankfurter Buchmesse, an “SDG Publishers Compact” was inaugurated, giving publishers throughout the world industry an opportunity to signal their dedication to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The program was announced here on the UN’s site.

Like the SDG Book Club, this is a cooperative project with the  the International Publishers Association (IPA), which in turn is partnering with the Frankfurt trade show this year in a series of programming efforts, as Publishing Perspectives readers know.

One of the first publishing houses to announce its endorsement of the new agreement is Emerald Publishing in the UK, which was quick to reach news media with the word that it has become a founding signatory  of the accord, “which is designed,” Emerald’s statement says, “to inspire action among publishers and accelerate progress to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.”

The key value of the new compact, of course, is structure. When a publishing house signs on, that company is signaling that it is endorsing a 10-point pledge of action in support of the achievement of the 17 goals.

Here are the 10 points of the compact:

  • Committing to the SDGs: Stating sustainability policies and targets on the signatory’s site, including adherence to this compact; incorporating SDGs and their targets as appropriate
  • Actively promoting and acquiring content that advocates for themes represented by the SDGs, such as equality, sustainability, justice, and safeguarding and strengthening the environment
  • Annually reporting on progress toward achieving SDGs, sharing data and contributing to benchmarking activities, helping to share best practices and identify gaps that still need to be addressed
  • Nominating a person [in the signatory company] who will promote SDG progress, acting as a point of contact and coordinating the SDG themes throughout the organization
  • Raising awareness and promoting the SDGs among staffers to increase awareness of SDG-related policies and goals and encouraging projects that will help achieve the SDGs by 2030
  • Raising awareness and promoting the SDGs among suppliers, to advocate for SDGs and to collaborate on areas that need innovative actions and solutions
  • Becoming an advocate to customers and stakeholders by promoting and actively communicating about the SDG agenda through marketing, sites online, promotions and projects
  • Collaborating across cities, countries, and continents with other signatories and organizations to develop, localize, and scale projects that will advance progress on the SDGs individually or through [the company’s]
  • Dedicating budget and other resources toward accelerating progress for SDG-dedicated projects and promoting SDG principles
  • Taking action on at least one SDG goal—either as an individual publisher or through your national publishing association—and sharing progress annually

Melissa Fleming

In a prepared statement for today’s presentation of the compact, Melissa Fleming, the UN’s under-secretary-general for global communications, is quoted, saying, “With the ‘decade of action’ now under way, we’re looking to build a coalition of partners to help us identify and accelerate sustainable solutions to the world’s biggest challenges.

“That’s why we at the United Nations are excited to know that the publishing industry is becoming part of this global movement.

“This compact is a welcome initiative and one we hope will showcase innovative ideas from a sector that has a critical role to play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.”

Hugo Setzer

IPA president Hugo Setzer is quoted, saying, “Publishers can play such an important role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals through the books we publish, but we must also look at our business practices and contribute in our own right.

“This compact gives publishers the opportunity to mark their commitment with clear targets to aim for.”

Juergen Boos, Frankfurt’s president and CEO, says, “Frankfurter Buchmesse is the annual meeting place for the publishing industry.

Juergen Boos

“It not only brings together the international publishers and communities to facilitate business deals and promote literature but it also is the platform where current societal issues are being discussed in the spotlight of the global media.

“The fair is therefore ideally placed for the launch of this timely and important initiative.

“I would strongly encourage publishers to sign up to the SDG Publishers Compact and commit, together, to help create a sustainable future for us all.”

Nadja Kneissler

And Nadja Kneissler, chair of the publishers’ committee of the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels—Germany’s publishers and booksellers association–said, “We do not only want to watch the future unfold. Instead, we want to actively shape it.

“The book industry plays a vital role in our society. Therefore, publishers and booksellers feel a special responsibility to help shape social developments.

“In order to do so, we must stand up for core values and promote critical thinking. The challenges of social inequality and climate change haven’t gone away just because we are currently occupied by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The German book market can serve as a role model by driving positive change through entrepreneurial initiative and sustainable publishing activities.”

Publishers interested in joining the compact can find a PDF for the purpose of signing up here.

The IPA has produced this video, nine minutes, on the launch of the SDG Publishers Compact:


More from Publishing Perspectives on Frankfurter Buchmesse is here, more from us on the International Publishers Association is here, more on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is here, and more on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here

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About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.