Celebrating collective action for the Global Goals

Springer Nature Group
By: Nicola Jones and Thea Sherer, Thu Sep 23 2021

It is Global Goals Week, an annual event intended to raise the profile of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, set out in 2015 to galvanise world leaders, governments, policymakers, businesses and civil society to act together on some of the most pressing global challenges the world faces: from tackling climate change, to fighting hunger; from creating sustainable cities, to ensuring equitable access to justice for all. In 2020, the UN acknowledged that progress towards the goals is not yet advancing at the speed or scale required. We are now in the ‘Decade of Action’ and the UN has called for the acceleration of sustainable solutions that will require collective action. 

At Springer Nature, we believe that research and education have a fundamental role to play in accelerating progress towards these goals and, as such, it is part of our mission to support the delivery of the Goals. We know that our most significant contribution is made through our publishing activity, which helps bring to light and disseminate important knowledge related to these challenges and the solutions that are required. We also use the SDGs to help us consider the potential impacts of Springer Nature as a business - both positive and negative - and how we should manage them. 

While we are already a leading publisher of research on all of the SDGs, our aim is to be the publisher of choice for research on societal challenges, expanding our portfolio to support the publication of this work, and connecting researchers tackling societal challenges with the policymakers and practitioners who can build on these insights and contribute to progress. And in our Education business we help to develop curriculum content that builds critical thinking and global citizenship skills to ensure that sustainable development is integrated into learning throughout the lifespan. 

Since the SDGs were launched in 2015, Springer Nature has published more than 400,000 articles or book chapters relevant to the SDGs, and these have been downloaded more than 750 million times. Between 2015 and 2020 the volume of SDG-relevant content published by Springer Nature increased by more than 72%. In 2020, Springer Nature was an early signatory of the UN SDG Publishers Compact, launched by the UN in collaboration with the International Publishers’ Association to inspire action in the publishing industry. This commitment sits alongside others we have made to ensure that our work as a publisher is sustainable for the long term. Earlier this year we joined the Climate Pledge, which sets us on a course to be Net Zero carbon by 2040. We also champion diversity, equity and inclusion, and have set targets for representation in our leadership tiers, and are members of the Valuable 500, an initiative focused on improving disability inclusion in the workplace. 

This Global Goals Week we are celebrating and rewarding the work of many of our colleagues across Springer Nature who have, over the past few years, who have been the real champions for sustainable development within our global operations. Over recent weeks, we have had the pleasure of hearing stories from colleagues across our global operations about the individuals and team projects that they have taken on - often on top of their day-to-day work, and driven by their passion to be part of the solution to challenges - that are making an impact on sustainable development. Some of these projects are about how we ensure that our business is operating in a sustainable way. Others are about ensuring that we are giving a strong platform to the researchers who are themselves dedicating their careers to tackling global issues. 

Just to give a handful of examples…..

  • A team of colleagues in Korea and Japan created focused events aimed at tackling ocean plastic waste and biodiversity loss in close collaboration with the Ministry of Environment in South Korea, Korea University, the National Institute of Biological Resources (NIBR), and the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU).
  • Our open access books team, worked with the LYRASIS consortium to create a UN Sustainability Development Goal Book Publishing Fund to support openly accessible books on climate change, equity, peace and justice that will advance global collaboration. 
  • A dedicated group of internal “green office” advocates have implemented solutions to make our working environment more environmentally friendly, and kept awareness of sustainability high amongst colleagues, even throughout the pandemic when the majority of our colleagues were working from home.
  • We drew on the expertise of our journal editors in developing our plans to become carbon neutral through the purchase of renewable energy certificates and carbon offsets, to ensure that the programmes we were contributing to would have demonstrable positive impacts.

We’re proud to champion the SDGs both internally and externally throughout the year - not just in Global Goals Week.

  • On October 5th, along with the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network we’ll be hosting the second Science for a Sustainable Future virtual event exploring the role of research in addressing some of the challenges represented within the Goals. Hosted by economist Jeffrey Sachs and Nature Editor in Chief Magdalena Skipper, panels will bring together leading experts on topics including Climate Finance, Universal Health Coverage and Food Systems. You can find out more and sign up here
  • Throughout the autumn a series of focused roundtables with participants from the natural, applied, and social science disciplines will explore important global and local parallels between two crises - the COVID-19 pandemic, and the climate crisis - and how interdisciplinary collaboration can increase our ability to succeed in meeting global climate goals. The series will conclude in November and registration to join the conversation will open shortly here.

You can find up-to-date information on Springer Nature’s SDG Programme here

Nicola Jones and Thea Sherer

Author: Nicola Jones and Thea Sherer

Nicola Jones  is Head of Publishing for the Springer Nature SDG Programme 

Nicola is responsible for coordinating the publishing activity across Springer Nature where it relates to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, in order to bring research that can contribute to achieving the Goals to the attention of those best placed to implement it. Nicola is passionate about the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration for solving complex global problems, and the need for solid research evidence to inform policy and practice.

Thea Sherer is Director of Sustainability at Springer Nature Group. 

Since 2017 Thea has led on sustainability strategy and corporate reporting, driving forward a programme that measures, monitors and works to improve the publishers’ environmental and social impacts.

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