When the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) opens in Glasgow, Scotland on October 31, the international publishing community stands ready for action.

Government leaders and others planning for COP26 have described a sense of urgency to remain in line with the Paris Agreement goal of holding global temperature rise to keep 1.5 degrees Celsius. They have also emphasized the central role of the latest science in informing what must be done.

Today, CCC announces it has signed onto the SDG Publishers Compact, joining stakeholders from across the publishing industry to pledge a commitment to the future and dedication to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

The Compact is a 10-point call-to-action in support of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be achieved by 2030. CCC has committed to develop sustainable practices and act as champions of the SDGs during the Decade of Action (2020-2030) specifically in the areas of Quality EducationIndustry, Innovation and Infrastructure; and Reduced Inequalities.

Publishing Takes On Climate Change

Sherri Aldis, Chief of UN Publications, sees obvious common ground for publishers and SDGs.

“There seems to be really a natural alignment between the values of the publishing industry and those of the Sustainable Development Goals,” Aldis tells CCC. “Naturally, publishing already contributes directly to SDG number four on quality education. And from there, there seems to be a natural transition towards contributing to the other goals.”

In a special statement on September 30, the International Publishers Association and other leading organizations across the global book sector committed to taking responsibility for the industry’s environmental impact and adopting climate-friendly practices across the publishing supply chain.

Dr. Michiel Kolman is Senior Vice President and Academic Ambassador at Elsevier and former President of the International Publishers Association (IPA) where he now chairs Inclusive Publishing and Literacy. During his tenure as IPA President, Kolman launched the SDG Book Club together with the UN. In October 2020, he launched the SDG Publishers Compact with the UN.

According to Kolman, IPA will convene a series of conversations on climate for publishers beginning this week in Frankfurt Book Fair and followed by virtual sessions with the aim to release the agreed conclusions and actions ahead of COP 26.

“I think there’s an incredible sense of urgency right now among publishers. I think the UN Secretary General called it correctly – it’s code red for humanity,” Kolman explains. “There is irrefutable evidence that climate change is human-induced, and we must take action now, otherwise it’s simply too late. Publishers across our sector must think about their responsibility for our collective environment.”

The Green Book Alliance, a joint effort led by UK’s Book Industry Communications, BookNet Canada, and the Book Industry Study Group, surveyed the current state of sustainability in book publishing between November 2020 and January 2021.

“We received answers from about 10 different countries. The most significant responses came from the UK, Canada, and the US, which you’d expect,” noted Brian O’Leary, BISG executive director.

“I’d love to come out of COP26 with a really firm commitment to conduct research in one, two, or perhaps up to three different areas that are of value in shaping decisions about what the industry as a whole does going forward,” he added. “If we could get that work done, I think it would give us a vehicle to move ahead from the significant commitments that the Publishers Compact and the IPA have been able to solicit.”

On November 10, as COP26 draws to a close, Michael Healy, CCC’s Executive Director, International Relations will host a virtual panel discussion, “UN Sustainable Development Goals: The Way Ahead for Publishing and the Content Industries,” as part of the IFRRO International Conference. Sherri Aldis and Michiel Kolman join him along with Simone Taylor of AIP Publishing.

Author: Christopher Kenneally

Christopher Kenneally hosts CCC's Velocity of Content podcast series, which debuted in 2006 and is the longest continuously running podcast covering the publishing industry. As CCC's Senior Director, Marketing, he is responsible for organizing and hosting programs that address the business needs of all stakeholders in publishing and research. His reporting has appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, The Independent (London), WBUR-FM, NPR, and WGBH-TV.
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