Towards a more sustainable publishing industry

Springer Nature Group
By: Nicola Jones, Tue Jan 19 2021

We have written before on this blog about the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their importance to us at Springer Nature. The SDGs are an urgent call for action by all countries in partnership, to tackle the world’s greatest challenges, to end poverty and hunger, tackle climate change, reduce inequality and spur economic growth. Springer Nature has long felt that, through content we publish, partnerships we create and different voices we can convene, we can make a difference to the SDGs and accelerate their progress. The Springer Nature SDG Programme (which you can read more about here) aims to do just that. 

Partnerships are at the heart of the Global Goals. There is one goal - number 17 - specifically dedicated to them, and it is evident that none of the goals can be delivered without the combined efforts of governments, civil society, businesses and citizens. 

In October last year, the UN and the International Publishers’ Association launched the SDG Publishers Compact. This pledge to be part of the decade of action, and to contribute to delivery of the goals, comprises ten action points for publishers, publishing associations and related organisations. Springer Nature was delighted to be one of the first signatories to this compact, following its launch.

By joining the SDG Publishers Compact we have signed up to ten commitments (outlined here on the UN website). For Springer Nature here’s what this means: 

  1. We’re committed to the SDGs: You can read more about how Springer Nature supports the delivery of the SDGs, relevant policies and the targets we are working towards at www.springernature.com/SustainableBusiness
  2. We are actively promoting and acquiring content related to the SDGs: We have a dedicated SDG publishing programme, which you can read more about at www.springernature.com/sdg-programme. Since 2015, we’ve published more than 300,000 articles or book chapters relevant to the SDGs - and these have been downloaded more than 700 million times. Our journal portfolio includes titles like Nature Sustainability and Nature Climate Change (the most highly-cited climate change journal) and reference works such as the Encyclopedia of the Sustainable Development Goals. SDG content is highlighted on dedicated hubs, such as these for SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities and SDG14: Life Below Water.
  3. We will annually report on progress through our Sustainable Business report, (find the latest here) as well as in our work with - for example - the UK Publishers’ Association.
  4. We have a dedicated Head of SDG Publishing who coordinates SDG themes throughout the organisation and Springer Nature’s Editor-in-Chief, Sir Philip Campbell, is the programme sponsor. 
  5. We will continue to raise awareness of the SDGs amongst our colleagues, through our committed group of more than 60 SDG Champions and during periods such as Global Goals Week, and will identify and develop new projects that will help achieve the SDGs using our core capabilities as publishers of research educational content. 
  6. We will more actively raise awareness of the relevance of the SDGs among our suppliers aligning with existing work that we do through our supply chain on issues related to environmental and labour standards. 
  7. We will continue to actively connect with researchers and other stakeholders to amplify SDG related issues and discuss solutions through our content promotion (for example here) and events (for example here).
  8. We will collaborate with others, globally, on projects that will advance progress on the SDGs, including with the UK Publishers’ Association and will share updates on these on our website and Sustainable Business report.
  9. We will continue to prioritise these activities with dedicated resources, executive oversight and progress reporting. 
  10. We will take specific actions on at least one SDG goal and share progress annually. In 2020 we committed to become carbon neutral in our own business operations and travel.

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We will report on progress in our next Sustainable Business report, to be published in April 2021 at www.springernature.com/SustainableBusiness and provide regular updates for the research community at www.springernature.com/sdg-programme



Nicola Jones

Author: Nicola Jones

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.

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