SDG Publishers Compact signatories

London Book Fair (5-7 April) was bristling, bringing back memories of easier times. IPA was also back and with a big focus on sustainability. From inspiring the leaders of the future through children’s books, to a challenging and thought-provoking Sustainability keynote. From a new InSPIRe report on how to make our sector more sustainable and resilient to practical panel discussion on what publishers can do now. All of this crowned by the Sustainable Development Goals Publishers Compact reaching and surpassing 200 signatories.

Day 1 saw Michiel Kolman, Chair of the IPA’s Inclusive Publishing and Literacy Committee guide a delightful discussion around the Sustainable Development Goals Book Club which wrapped up its reading lists at Bologna Children’s Book Fair.

Olatoun Gabi Williams underlined the role of books as both mirrors and windows and how the African chapter of the SDG Book Club was something powerful on so many levels, from encouraging authors to write about the goals, to supporting local book sectors and promoting indigenous language publishing. The African Chapter of the SDG Book Club celebrated its 1st anniversary on 23 April.

Irina Lumelsky, acting head of United Nations Publications expressed her delight at the success of the book club and the hope that the books can inspire children around the world to influence and make a difference and become the leaders of the future.

Karine Pansa, Vice President of IPA, told of how the Brazilian chapter had brought together stakeholders from across the sector with a common purpose and really captured the imaginations.

The IPA has partnered with Simbi to bring the books of the SDG Book Club everwhere and will be launching a readathon to combine learning about the goals with improving literacy rates.

 

Day 2 included a full sustainability afternoon split into three sessions. The afternoon was opened by London Book Fair helping take the SDG Publishers Compact past 200 signatures and being joined on stage by those present who have already signed the compact and committing to including the Sustainable Development Goals in their work practices.

IPA President Bodour Al Qasimi then welcomed The Lancet editor, Dr Richard Horton to the stage where he delivered a compelling and forthright lecture on Planetary Health. He ricocheted from the pandemic to our own failings in risk evaluation. He underlined the power of books as an early warning system noting a number of books that tackled the Russia – Ukraine conflict well before the the 24 February invasion. He also underlined the importance for publishers to keep taking risks and risking offending people. The speech covered demographic challenges and how these might affect geopoliticial power balances but also attitudes towards peace.  He closed by calling on the audience to examine their own prejudices.

The keynote was followed by two panels moderated by Michiel Kolman. The first featured Stephen Lottinga of The Publishers Association (UK), children’s author Ken Wilson-Max and Jessica Lobo of the UN Global Compact Network in the UK. Stephen Lotinga spoke to Publishers Association campaign ‘Publishing Declares’ while Ken Wilson-Max spoke of the increasing recognition of the importance diverse characters and Jessica Lobo spoke about the work of the UK Network and the value of the SDG Publishers Compact in raising publishers’ awareness of the SDGs and hopefully encouraging some to sign the Global Compact.

The final panel featured Stacy Scott of Taylor and Francis, Caroline Priday of Princeton University Press, Rachel Martin of Elsevier and Brian O’Leary of the Book Industry Study Groupon behalf of the Green Book Alliance.

Stacy Scott underlined the importance of publishers getting ready for the European Accessibility Act but also the importance of accessible books for the life chances of print disabled people. Caroline Priday talked about the EvenUp initiative and the opportunities for University Presses to make themselves more inclusive. Rachel Martin spoke of Elsevier’s sustainability journey and the urgency with which action is required if 2050 Paris Climate agreement deadline is to be achieved.  Brian O’Leary spoke to the work of the Green Book Alliance in coordinating action across the book supply chain to make a difference.  

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