IPA: driving towards widening Initiatives on Sustainability

The International Publishers Association (IPA), the world’s largest federation of national, regional and specialist publishers’ associations with 92 members in 76 countries in Asia, Africa, Australasia, Europe and the Americas, has been actively priotising sustainability in a wider global perspective.


Setting the deadline of 2030, The International Publishers Association (IPA) observes that publishers all across the globe are uniquely positioned to drive progress towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Towards this, IPA firmly believes in publishers improving their sustainable business practices by acting as agents of change in critical areas such as education, equality, and justice.

IPA and SDGs…

IPA gears up to utilise the global goals to develop key programmes and activities as part of the Inclusive Publishing and Literacy Committee, which is led by Michiel Kolman, Former IPA President (2018 -2020), Chair of Inclusive Publishing and Literacy Committee IPA, Vice President, Research Networks, Elsevier. Michiel remarks, “The IPA’s SDG Report has the great example of how publishers can contribute towards the (SDG) goals.”

Michiel continues, “We do not want to go back to exactly the way it was. We now have the opportunity to truly shape a new type of world. All publishers can contribute, whether they are small or if they are large and can contribute more significantly.” The IPA’s SDG dashboard shows initiatives from publishers and their associations from all over the world playing their part in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the areas of gender equality, zero hunger, reduced inequalities, and so on.

Climate Action Report…

On the sustainability front,Elsevier has released its ‘Climate Action Report’—the company’s journey towards a more sustainable future — and a guide titled ‘Net Zero Fundamentals’. What does ‘Net Zero’ mean exactly? In short, Net Zero is the ambition to reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions produced by human activities to as close to zero as possible and removing any remaining emissions from the atmosphere by supporting ‘carbon sinks’ such as forests and oceans.

Key highlights in Elsevier’s ‘Climate Action Report’ are: Elsevier as Responsible Business; Advancing Research & Knowledge; and Partnering for Action. “When we talk about being a responsible business, the science is clear – climate change is already happening. It is no longer a problem for the future, and we have challenges to face as a responsible business,”says Rachel Martin, Global Director, Sustainability, and Co-Chair of Elsevier’s Climate Action Program, Chair of UK Book Industry Communications Green Supply Chain Committee, Chair of STM Social Responsibility Committee and Member of International Publishers Association IPLC Sustainability Committee.

Rachel adds, “Better understanding our carbon footprint and ensuring we take a data-led approach will be critical to our ability to realise our net zero goals. But we shouldn’t forget the need for sustainability to be integrated across every part of our business. Empowering staff to understand climate change and take climate positive steps in their everyday lives is just as important.”

IPA initiatives towards SDG…

IPA has been indulging in a handful of SDG related activities across the globe. African Publishing Innovation Fund (APIF) supports literacy, book access, indigenous publishing, and library restoration in Africa. The fund provides USD 800,000 for projects and initiatives from 2020 to 2024 in the continent.

In 2020, IPA joined UNESCO’s Global Education Coalition to support countries in scaling up their best distance learning practices and reaching children and youth who are most at risk. Likewise, through Freedom to Publish and Prix Voltaire, IPA defends the rights of authors and publishers to create and distribute their works of the mind in complete freedom. This work is carried out by the IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee.

IPA was also instrumental in the founding of the UNESCO World Book Capital, which is part of the selection committee that will encourage a culture of reading. In addition, IPA is a founding member of this multi-stakeholder initiative that aims to increase services available in accessible formats for people living with a visual impairment. IPA and WIPO established the accessible publisher charter, signed by over 100 publishers to dive critical progress.

Global Goals and sustainability are universal and interlinked as IPA’s multi-stakeholder partnerships play crucial roles in the effort to attain them. IPA always commits to improving its understanding of the environmental, social and economic impacts and benefits.

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