One of the focus of Readmagine event in 2022 has been the United Nation’s Sustainability Development Goals (SDG). The initiatives for the reduction of environmental impacts is one of the most notorious SDG.

Michiel Kolman, Juan Mera and Patxi Beascoa, who acted as moderator, took part in this colloquium on sustainability and the relationship between the publishing industry and ecological policies.

Patxi Beascoa, the CEO of Penguin Random House in Spain, begun the discussion with brief but effective questions on the issue: what are the main steps to follow? How much courage will it take to dare to walk in this direction? After a few minutes of debate, other questions are asked, such as to what extent readers demand sustainability policies.

Michiel Kolman, Senior Vice President at Elsevier, representing the IPA (International Publishers Association) set out the responsibilities of publishers in relation to sustainability and lists two main objectives that can be broken down into more specific ones. The first would be to become a responsible organization (that is, one that has fair labour policies, that values diversity and inclusion, and that has work dynamics that are considerate of the environment); the second is to be a catalyst for change (publish content related to the global agenda, work on the SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals] to catalogue and promote content, organize projects and collaborations).

The ‘SDG Publishers Compact’ is a declaration and an alliance that brings together different publishing firms that want to be part of the sustainable commitment. Joining it means establishing ecological policies in line with the precepts of the SDGs.

Kolman listed some of the main implications of this pact, including prioritizing sustainability, raising awareness, and taking action.

In 2018, the IPA conducted a survey among its members to find out which objectives seemed to be top priorities to them: quality education, gender equality, peace and justice, responsible production and consumption, climate action and collaboration to achieve these objectives. The conclusion is that we live in an unstable climate, which suggests that there are three approaches to climate action:

-Direct emissions that are emitted from resources that companies own directly.

-Indirect emissions of own resources.

-The indirect emissions of resources that are not ours but are part of the same network as us.

The role of collaboration in climate action and IPA’s ideas for the sustainability subcommittee are explained by sharing resources and setting sustainability standards. Differentiate between what can be done within the sector and outside.

Triggering a climate action may require the following:

-Take action now: the technology exists.

-Responsibility of everyone across the sector.

-Check the feasibility of the proposals now.

Juan Mera -director of supply chains at Grupo Planeta- shared with the audience that he had more than 20 years of experience in the publishing sector but that he was happy to still be on this business at this time because it is a time of change and challenges about which he will now speak to us.

He divided his presentation into three parts. The first dealt with the fact that sustainability is not a passing trend but rather a philosophy that is here to stay. In the second part he listed the sustainability problems that the publishing sector will have to face. Finally, in part three, he shared some insights on how an environmentally friendly approach can result in profits and growth for the industry.

He pointed out that publishers have to lead this transformation, not just follow it.

Dr. Michiel Kolman is Senior VP and Academic Ambassador at Elsevier and former President of the International Publishers Association (IPA) where he now chairs Inclusive Publishing and Literacy. Michiel also serves on the Federation of European Publishers (FEP) board. Since joining Elsevier in 1995, he has held various core publishing roles in Amsterdam and Tokyo.  Prior to Elsevier, he worked for Wolters Kluwer in a division that is now part of Springer Nature. He holds a degree from Leiden University in the Netherlands and a PhD in astrophysics from Columbia University in New York, where he studied with a Fulbright scholarship. Michiel is co-chair of Workplace Pride supporting LGBTIQ+ workplace inclusion internationally.

Juan Mera is Director Supply Chain y Transformación Digital sector editorial at Grupo Planeta, the group where he has developed different projects and departments during more thab twenty years. Previously he was the Director of Planeta in Portugal (2008 -2019), Director of International Expansion, Managing director of Don Quixote.

Readmagine is the professional meeting about reading, books and libraries that takes place at the centre of Germán Sánchez Ruipérez Foundation in Madrid. This event was founded by Luis González, the Managing Director of the foundation in 2006 as a gathering about prospects, new ideas and the use of tools from other industries.