Businesses must play a role in sustainable development

Springer Nature Group
By: Stefan von Holtzbrinck, Wed Mar 27 2019

Author: Stefan von Holtzbrinck

Today Springer Nature launches its Responsible Business report for 2018. Chair of the Springer Nature supervisory board, Stefan von Holtzbrinck, introduces the report with a call to action for international business to make a positive contribution to sustainable development.

Responsible Business © unsplash

Looking at the global picture today, there can be no doubt that as politics become more turbulent and polarising, the need for international businesses to make a positive impact on sustainable developments has become even more important.

Even though millions of the world’s poorest are lifted out of extreme poverty every year, we are still quite a distance away from becoming a world of equality. Indeed, we are likely moving further away from it. Sound answers to these problems are needed especially in the light of artificial intelligence and its impact on our societies. At the same time with the arctic temperature exceeding its historic average by more than five degrees in two consecutive years and with almost every continent suffering its own drought, fire or flood, climate change is undeniably happening at an accelerated rate. And last but not least, this year we witnessed the birth of the first genetically engineered baby and with it, potentially a turning point in human history.

These grand challenges are not being solved fast enough and big new questions are out there waiting for an answer: Who do we want to be? And in what state do we want to pass on both the beauty of our planet and our wisdom to future generations? In finding answers, Springer Nature has a clear role to play building on its own strong heritage: one of our founders Julius Springer engaged himself politically on the social-progressive front in 1848 and his contemporaries Alexander and Daniel Macmillan stood for wide curiosity, optimism, tolerance and integrity. 150 years ago, in 1869, the Macmillan brothers launched Nature and the first statement in its mission was and still is to this day to “place before the general public the grand results of Scientific Work and Scientific Discovery and to urge the claims of Science to a more general recognition in Education and in Daily Life.”  If one takes it all together: The core commitment of Springer Nature is to ‘factfulness’ and evidence, to sustainability and equality, to ethical behaviour and a humanistic education, all of which are the prerequisites of progress and peace in our societies.

Needless to say: We should not only publish but also live up to these values, to the latest findings and to best practices ourselves. As Chairman I am proud to see us moving decisively in that direction.

In 2018, Springer Nature reduced its environmental footprint considerably. The diversity and inclusion programme made significant progress and new appointments to the Supervisory Board added a range of skills and experience as well as improving governance and gender mix. As a Board we are also entrusted with the long-term sustainability of the company beyond 2018 and so the future financing of Springer Nature was secured for the next three years. But there is way more to highlight. This report shares our approach to responsible business in more detail. You will read about what we do exactly to help children to learn, to support professionals in their career and to make better informed decisions, to engage with researchers on their journey to new discoveries and to help them to share their work as open as possible. It tells how we always try to connect with our customers and communities. In that vein, I hope that you will share with us any suggestions or comments about how Springer Nature can further develop its Responsible Business actions to support the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Please let us know as ‘the best is the enemy of the good’.

Read more in the Responsible Business report here.


Author: Stefan von Holtzbrinck

Chairman, Springer Nature

Stefan von Holtzbrinck’s career in publishing began at Kirch Media Group, Bloomsbury and then in the New Media division of Holtzbrinck Publishing Group. He joined Macmillan Limited as a director in 1997 and then served as Managing Director at Nature Publishing Group. He joined Holtzbrinck Publishing Group as Chief Executive Officer in 2001. Dr von Holtzbrinck was born in 1963 in Ettlingen, Germany. He studied Law and Literature and earned his PhD in Media Law from the University of Munich.

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