There are many big challenges that face the world and societies today and Springer Nature is committed to creating a sustainable business to help tackle them. This not only means using technology to open up research and accelerate solutions to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but doing so in a manner that is ethical and responsible, and supports people in a fair and impartial way.
‘Accelerating Solutions’ is the first in a series of blog posts to accompany the publication of Springer Nature's Sustainable Business Report 2021. It highlights just a few of the contributions we have made towards some of the SDGs over the past year, and how we continue to build foundations for the future through the continued opening up of research and the building of new partnerships.
The SDG at the forefront of many people’s minds towards the end of 2021 was Climate Action, with the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP 26) focusing attention on the world’s need to combat climate change and its impacts. To accompany the conference Springer Nature launched its Climate Research in Action campaign to highlight the importance of research in identifying both climate problems and solutions.
The accompanying Climate Research in Action microsite included a compilation of the most important climate research from across the Nature Portfolio. This enabled policymakers, activists and others interested in climate change to understand the evidence, threats, and possible actions that can be taken to tackle climate change.
The site also included the Ozone Story timeline, providing an example of the power of published research to make a real difference and how positive change can come about from following the science. The timeline shows the scientific discovery of a hole in the ozone layer, first published in Nature in 1985, which led to the development of the Montreal Protocol in 1987 to regulate ozone-damaging chemicals, and how if we continue to follow the science the ozone layer is expected to be fully recovered by the middle of the 21st century.
Of course following the science requires a quality education, another of the UN SDGs that has been the focus of a number of Springer Nature initiatives over the past year. Únicos is one such example, a podcast series and accompanying Bullet Journal launched by Macmillan Education Iberia to support teachers in delivering the best quality of education. The goal of Únicos is to support educators with practical advice and ideas in managing diversity in the classroom, creating an inclusive environment, and reducing situations that can lead to exclusion.
We have also been highlighting the contribution of Springer Nature publications to SDG-related topics by launching the #BooksInspired social media campaign to coincide with UNESCO’s World Book and Copyright Day 2021. This campaign aims to highlight research books that can also motivate and inspire, and draw attention to books as a format that allows greater depth and exploration, when compared with academic papers. As UNESCO has noted, the power of books can “combat isolation, reinforce ties between people, expand our horizons, while stimulating our minds and creativity”.
Springer Nature has also been working closely with the United Nations on a number of initiatives to help advance the SDGs. In collaboration with the UN’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) we have brought together experts from disparate disciplines and sectors for events such as the virtual conference Science for a Sustainable Future and a series of roundtable discussions Learning from Crises: from Covid to Climate, which was designed to explore lessons that can be taken from the response to the pandemic and applied to the climate crisis. We were also chosen to be scholarly publishing partners to the Scientific Group at the Food System Summit, convened by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, to launch bold new actions to deliver progress on all 17 SDGs, as each relies to some degree on healthier, more sustainable and equitable food systems.
Accelerating solutions is not only about bringing together experts, or the publishing and promotion of research, but finding new ways to be open. Easy and open access to protocols and methods sits at the heart of reproducibility in open science. Access is critical to ensuring research results can be successfully replicated and research time and money not wasted. That is why Springer Nature, the world's leading publisher of protocols, launched a pilot this year with protocols.io, an OA protocol and methods repository, to better understand how protocols are used by researchers in the lab. The pilot will explore the discoverability of protocols and their use and re-use in experiments, to better support researchers and advance open science and research.
There is still much work to do to achieve the SDGs, and Springer Nature will continue to find new ways to accelerate solutions to sustainable publishing by opening up research in an ethical and responsible way, and by building new partnerships and supporting people in a fair and impartial way.