Publishers have power in spreading knowledge, and can drive discussion about the environment and climate change. This published content can be a powerful agent of change among readers and in the wider culture.
Recent books on Indigenous history and identity have reinforced the ageless relationships between Australia’s first peoples and the continent’s land and seas. Australian writing about nature and the environment has provided ways to explore and project national identity.
The various areas of publishing can contribute to the environmental cause in different ways.
Children's and educational publishing
Reading on environmental issues can start at an early age. Children’s books (for early childhood through to adolescents) are powerful tools in fostering a deeper understanding of nature. They can also lay the groundwork for awareness of environmental issues and the future challenges of building sustainable societies.
In adult trade publishing, the environment has been a preoccupation of Australian fiction, both as a source of wonder and as a tangible force of action. Trade nonfiction has a unique power to bring reflections on the environment – from historical, scientific, political, cultural or personal perspectives – to wide audiences. Nonfiction books offer the space to reflect on recent research and events as well as on history, and to tie these to broader scientific and political conversations.
The rigour and regularity of the journal publishing model makes journals a powerful medium for sharing the newest research around climate change and sustainability. Scholarly and journal publishers light the path to change. Among scholarly journals most content is also provided online rather than in print formats.
Promoting and producing environmental content
As a community, publishers who commit to publishing work addressing environmental matters are making an important contribution to environmental sustainability. Opportunities to expand on this includes discussion of environmental issues through events, special series, reading groups, etc.
Sustainable Development Goals publishers compact & book club
The SDG Publishers Compact asks publishers and publishing associations to commit to action and reporting in pursuit of the UN's Sustainability Development Goals by the end of the
The goals address the broadest possible conception of sustainability including poverty, hunger, good
health, decent employment and economic growth, but they also address more straightforward
environmental goals such as clean water and sanitation, affordable clean energy, and climate action.
While publishers sign up to the achievement of all goals, there are a number which speak more directly
to publishing content including supporting quality education,
peace and justice, strong institutions, and reducing inequality.
The SDG Book Club was launched in 2018 as part of the Compact. The initiative focuses on fostering awareness of sustainability issues among children worldwide.
'There are so many ways publishers can contribute and one way is the idea of publishing content on the SDGs. This could be conducting and publishing multi-disciplinary, international research that we need in order to nourish policy decisions and challenge some of the assumptions that we have. It can also be digital platforms and books dedicated to the SDG themes. You can also recommend children’s books for the SDG Book Club and we definitely encourage publishers to do that as well.'
– Sherri Aldis, Chief, United Nations Publications
Learn more about the SDG Publishers compact, and Australian involvement here.