At Guadalajara: Mexico’s Publishers Promote Sustainability, Social Responsibility

In News by Adam Critchley

Established last year, the Mexican book chamber’s commission on sustainability and issues in diversity has gained traction, according to officials at a session at the Guadalajara Book Fair.

At a CANIEM presentation during the 37th Guadalajara International Book Fair on the book chamber’s initiatives in sustainability and social responsibility. From left are Evodio Sánchez of Mexico’s Center for Philanthropy; Carmen Morales of the United Nations Development Program; CANIEM president Hugo Setzer; and Gina Constantine Llegero, a CANIEM board member who leads the organization’s commission on diversity and sustainability. Image: Publishing Perspectives, Adam Critchley

By Adam Critchley

Sánchez: ‘We Have To Work Together’
Mexico’s book chamber, Cámara Nacional de la Industria Editorial Mexicana (CANIEM), reported last week at the Guadalajara International Book Fair on progress with its commission on social responsibility and greater sustainability.

The initiative was opened in 2022, in an effort to create awareness among publishers of the needs to lessen their environmental footprints, promote gender equality in publishing, and create a more equal and just industry.

One sign of progress is that the chamber now has a board of directors that’s evenly divided between men and women.

The head of the commission, Gina Constantine Llergo—a member of CANIEM’s board of directors and the founder of Constantine Editores—told the Guadalajara audience, “The idea behind the commission is to promote the creation of a more just society; to gauge how much progress we have made and where we want to get to; and how we can accelerate the pace.

“We have called on the government and private companies,” she said, “to support the publishing industry, and for people to get more involved in the themes of social responsibility and inclusion.”

“We’re also calling on publishers to focus on an objective, to make a commitment, on how they can enhance their social responsibility,” Constantine said. She highlighted how the United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) act as guidance to help companies focus their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) themes, which include making books more accessible and promoting social inclusion.

Publishers are also encouraged to create a departments for sustainability and diversity as part of joining the SDG Publishers Compact, created by the UN and the International Publishers Association during the IPA presidency of Hugo Setzer, now president of CANIEM.  Since that project was opened at Frankfurter Buchmesse in 2020, the SDG Publishers Compact’s signatories count has risen into hundreds.

Publishers, both trade and academic, are welcome to engage and endorse the program, which has as its own 10 points of agreed responsibility.

Constantine: ‘Part of That Innovation’

On the exhibition floor of the Guadalajara International Book Fair, December 1. Image: FIL Guadalajara, Natalia Fregoso

The benefits for the publishing industry of adopting sustainability and diversity policies are multiple, Constantine said.

“Reading, for example,” she said, “is also a way of reducing violence—books make a huge contribution to that,” she asserted. “We can have a big impact because people will turn to look at a publishing company that’s doing something to achieve sustainability goals.”

Setzer said, “What consumers expect of companies is for them to act responsibly, and by establishing this commission what we’re doing is making a space for that and dedicating time to ensuring that the publishing industry is part of that innovation.

Evodio Sánchez, the director of social responsibility at Mexico’s Center for Philanthropy, the Centro Mexicano para la Filantropía (CEMEFI),  said that the work toward achieving sustainability and diversity goals “is not a question of a sole sector, but requires cooperation and collaboration across sectors, and which the CANIEM is undertaking.”

It’s also important for publishers to involve all of their employees in these initiatives, he said.

Sánchez spoke of a new level of concern perceived among young people in Mexico regarding the environment and the future, and how that’s impacting spending habits.

“‘What am I buying? And what impact does it have?’ are questions being asked by consumers,” he said. “A greater proportion of people are concerned about the impact of climate change, and people won’t purchase a product or service without being aware of that impact.”

“Millennials are seeking to simplify their lives,” Sánchez said, “by consuming less and [evaluating] their impact on the planet. We have to work together so that publishers’ content has an influence on how they consume products and services.”

At a session with Costa Rican anthropologist and poet Shirley Campbell at the Guadalajara International Book Fair, November 26. Image: FIL Guadalajara, Carlos Zepeda


More from Publishing Perspectives on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is here, more on the climate crisis is here, more on the SDG Publishers Compact is here, more on issues in diversity, equality, and inclusion is here, and more on the Mexican market is here.

Publishing Perspectives is the International Publishers Association’s world media partner.

About the Author

Adam Critchley

Adam Critchley is a Mexico-based freelance writer and translator. His articles have been published in Latin American Literature Today, Brando, Forbes, GQ, Gatopardo, Publishers Weekly, Travesías and Vinísfera, among other publications, and his short stories have appeared in The Brooklyn Review, El Puro Cuento and Storyteller-UK. His translations include a series of children's books based on indigenous Mexican folk tales. He can be contacted at adamcritchley@hotmail.com.