IPA Cheers First 100 Signatories to the SDG Publishers Compact

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In just nine months, the new international SDG Publishers Compact has attracted its first 100 commitments to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

In London’s High Holborn, June 26. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Alena Kravchenko

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

Kolman: ‘Sustainable, Equitable, Inclusive’
You’ll remember that in October 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. Like the SDG Book Club, the Publishers Compact is a cooperative project with the International Publishers Association (IPA), which also spearheads the SDG Book Club program with the UN.

Image: United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

On Thursday (July 22), the association announced that registration in the SDG Publishers Compact had reached 100 signatories, a handsome milestone, particularly for a program that was inaugurated in the autumn depths of the pandemic year 2020 and at a Frankfurt program mounted only digitally because of prevailing coronavirus COVID-19 conditions.

It seems hard to think of a better moment for such favorable news for such a program, originally announced here on the UN’s site. Many are disappointed today (July 23) to learn, as Gavin Jones reports for Reuters from Naples, “Energy and environment ministers from the Group of 20 rich nations have failed to agree on the wording of key climate change commitments in their final communique, Italy’s ecological transition minister Roberto Cingolani said on Friday.”

And while the climate crisis is far from the only key focus of the Sustainable Development Goals, in many ways it’s fundamental to enabling progress on virtually all 17 of them.

Michiel Kolman

In welcoming the news of the 100 signatories, IPA has posted commentary from Michiel Kolman at Elsevier in Amsterdam. Kolman is a former president of the association and now is its special envoy for diversity and inclusion.

“When we asked the signatories about why they decided to sign up to the SDG Publishers Compact,” Kolman writes, “many told us of a long history of positively contributing to society. Whether this is through the content they publish or their organizations’ business practices. In every case, our values aligned with the UN’s vision for a more sustainable, equitable, and inclusive future.”

The Compact’s 10-Point Framework

Springer Nature’s Nicola Jones speaks to the question if why the company has become one of the first 100 signatories to the SDG Publishers Compact in this video.

To refresh your memory, the SDG Publishers Compact is a program devised as that most valuable thing in efforts to move the world and its book business forward: a framework. it comes in the form of a 10-point pledge of action in support of achievement of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and each signatory to the program is endorsing the list. Here are the 10 points:

  • 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

“Over the past six months,” Kolman writes, “there have been a number of analyses that have assessed the initial impact of the pandemic on our industry.

“These have focused on the financial aspects, the impact of employment and more importantly how the very essence of the book, as an ‘essential good,’ was called into question. So, it’s amazing that during this period, the SDG Publishers Compact was not only launched but gained incredible momentum to hit the 100th signatory milestone in less than a year.”

In this video, Pierre Dutilleul, director general of the French Publishers’ Association (SNE) talks about the organization’s decision to join, which we covered at the time of the announcement here.


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 for the International Publishers Association.

More on the cor onavirus 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.

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