France’s Publishers Sign on to the UN’s SDG Compact

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

The SDG Publishers Compact was introduced at Frankfurter Buchmesse and today gains the support of the Syndicat national de l’édition in Paris.

In Paris’ Montmartre district, February 26. Image – iStockphoto: Franck Legros

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

Sustainable Development Goals and Publishers
During October’s Frankfurter Buchmesse events last year, the International Publishers Association (IPA) invited the world’s publishers to sign the SDG Publishers Compact in support of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), which the world body wants to see achieved in nine years, by 2030.

Today (March 23), the Syndicat national de l’édition (SNE), France’s publishers’ association, has announced that it is signing the compact.

As Publishing Perspectives wrote in October on the creation of the Publishers Compact, Melissa Fleming, the UN’s under-secretary for global communications, said, “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.”

We’ll embed below a video from the October 14 event in which the then-president of the IPA, Hugo Setzer, was joined by former president Michiel Kolman; Buchmesse president and CEO Juergen Boos; UN Publishing chief Sherri Aldis; and Nadja Kneissler of the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, Germany’s publishers and booksellers association, which became the first national-market publishers’ association to sign on to the compact.

What the Publishers Compact does is create a 10-point actionable guide that can be agreed to not only by publishers’ organizations but also by individual publishers, booksellers, “and any other organization active in the publishing industry.” And the intent is to raise and deploy awareness in the book publishing industry, outlining what its role(s) can be in the effort to achieve the 17 goals of the plan.

Today’s message to the news media from Paris says, “Aware of the environmental footprint of the book publishing business, the SNE has been conducting for several years—in particular through the Environment Commission created in 2011–numerous awareness-raising actions among its members, for a better consideration of sustainable development in their activities.

“By signing the UN Publishers’ Compact today, SNE is committed to continuing its awareness-raising activities among its members and encourages all French publishers to sign it and take concrete measures.”

The French association goes on to propose that “By virtue of its very activity, book publishing, in all publishing segments, meets the sustainable development goals defined by the UN.”

That may seem a reach for an association to say at this point. But at least for its own efforts, the SNE has for years worked diligently on making its use of paper recycled or “green-certified” to the greatest degree possible. And the association has a rationale for what it means about book publishing and the SDGs.

“As a source of knowledge,” the SNE writes today, “publishing plays an essential role in the construction of tomorrow’s society and the dissemination of ideas.

“Moreover, in an era marked by the phenomenon of fake news, the importance of the publishers’ action is visible in all fields, and particularly in the field of education, notably with children’s books or school and university textbooks, which provide access to quality and verified content.

“More specifically, by using a large majority of paper from sustainably managed forests (95 percent of purchases), by recycling 100 percent of its drumsticks, by developing an active policy in favor of the adaptation and accessibility of books to people with disabilities (especially visual), many French publishers are adopting concrete practices that are increasingly eco-responsible, both within their companies and on a collective scale.”

And the Syndicat national de l’édition in signing the compact today, says that it commits to:

  • Continue efforts to raise awareness of sustainable development policies
  • Continue to raise awareness of sustainable development policies among members and, more broadly, among all those involved in the book publishing industry
  • To cooperate in France and internationally with other signatories of this pact, in order to implement projects that will advance the SDGs in the publishing sector
  • To report on the progress made in achieving the SDGs in the field of books and publishing, on all its communication tools, and in particular on its site and its annual activity report

Karen Politis Boublil, who is in charge of the SNE’s environment and manufacturing commission, has been appointed to coordinate and monitor the organization’s actions in the field of sustainable development.

And in urging its member-publishing houses to sign on, the SNE may bring quite a boost to the Publishers Compact’s roster. The syndicat has at least 720 member-companies.

The SDG Publishers Compact’s 10-Point Framework

Image: United Nations

Those signing the compact agree to:

  • 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

Below is a recording of the October presentation from the International Publishers Association on the introduction of the SDG Publishers Compact.

The Coronavirus in France

The news reported this morning by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Dominique Vidalon for Reuters Paris is very concerning. Emmanuel Macron has said today that from the weekend, France will offer COVID-19 injections to anyone older than 70. There is concern that “Hospitals could face an ‘unprecedented shock’ within three weeks as infections explode,” according to the head of France’s hospital federation, Frederic Valletoux.

Inoculations currently are available only for those older than 75 and older than 50 with a serious pre-existing condition, the Reuters story confirms. “’The epidemic is gathering pace, the figures are exploding,’ Valletoux told LCI television.” One term being used for the steep and fast climb of France’s coronavirus numbers is “vertiginous.”

At this writing, the 9:25 a.m. ET (1325 GMT) update of the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center sees 4,358,910 cases in France’s population of 67 million, with  92,776 fatalities. These numbers move France past the United Kingdom into fifth place in the world for caseload (behind the States, Brazil, India, and Russia). In deaths, France now stands at No. 8 in the world.


More from Publishing Perspectives on Frankfurter Buchmesse is here, more from us on the International Publishers Association is here, and more on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is here. Publishing Perspectives is the international media partner of IPA programs and services.

More on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he 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.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As as an arts critic (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.