The International Publishers Association General Assembly on Monday 23 November was marked by the results of the association’s elections but also featured the publication of a COVID-19 stocktaking report and guest speeches from United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres and Booker-shortlisted author, Tsitsi Dangarembga.
President-elect, Bodour Al Qasimi, revealed the IPA’s new report From Response to Recovery: The impact of Covid-19 on the Global Publishing Industry, based on interviews with 33 IPA members from around the world and taking stock of the impact of the COVID pandemic. Speaking at the assembly, she said: I want to thank all of those members who contributed to our Post-Covid report. It provides in-depth information on what members are doing to weather the pandemic and leverage points for IPA action. One of the key themes that emerged is how the publishing industry ecosystem, not just publishers but booksellers, libraries and many others, came together to keep books in the hands of readers. Building on this theme, the IPA is planning to convene a multi-stakeholder taskforce to develop a global publishing industry plan.
The IPA is now seeking to work with international organisations from across the book value chain.
In his remarks to the IPA’s General Assembly, United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres thanked and congratulated the IPA for becoming such a strong partner of the UN’s work on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through the SDG Book Club and the SDG Publishers Compact. He also confirmed the UN’s support for the Freedom to Publish: Our ability to change the world for the better has often relied on brave authors and publishers who challenge conventional wisdom and those in power. At a time when we urgently need change and action, the freedom to publish and authors’ freedom to say and write what’s on their minds are more important than ever.
Tsitsi Dangarembga, gave a captivating speech on the responsibility of publishers to ensure a diverse and sustainable future and how international cooperation was particularly essential to overcome the challenges to freedom of expression in many countries around the world: It is my strong belief, that successful international cooperation in publishing and in the creative industries in general, can be very effective in contributing to overcome structural impediments to freedom or expression.
The IPA also published its 2019-20 Annual Report which summarised the work of the association’s different committees and progress on specific projects.