Sustainability takes centre stage for Dutch publishers

On a bright, sunny day in the centre of Amsterdam, Dutch publishers gathered together to be inspired to take action on climate change. In a historical 19th Century wooden warehouse, in a completely sustainable venue, publishers discussed their own actions and challanges to reach Net Zero. Whilst some were further ahead in their journey, installing solar panels in offices and using sustainabile materials in their book designs. For others, it was the perfect venue to be inspired and launch the new knowledge platform,, to help give practical resources and tools.  We heard from the co-organizers, and sustainability leads, Sanne Walraven and Nienke Bakker about the event and sustainability for Dutch publishers.

What inspired you to host a sustainability event? What did you hope to achieve through the event?

Climate change is one of our biggest societal challenges that we are facing right now. We wanted to raise awareness among our members about this issue and support them in taking the next step towards corporate social responsibility. In a survey of our membership, we revealed that many Dutch publishers are willing to take steps to address climate change but are not always aware of the available opportunities. By hosting the Sustainability Seminar, we intended to inform and inspire our members to take action. It was also the ideal time to launch our new platform,, with valuable information regarding sustainability for our members.

What was pivotal moment during the seminar for Dutch publishers?

Our first keynote was the researcher Bebette Porcelijn, author of the book "De Verborgen Impact" (The Hidden Impact). Babette explained the science behind climate action. One statement shared from the book was that if everyone in the world consumed resources like the Dutch, we would need 3.5 earths to meet the demand. This made a profound personal impact on many in the audience, both in terms of reflecting on personal choices, and choices made within their organizations. It helped to highlight the urgency to reduce the negative impact within our supply chain for our sector.

What advice would you give IPA members considering helping their members address climate change?

Engage in conversations with your members. Prior to the seminar we conducted a survey and established a sustainability working group where we could discover the needs of our members and how we, as industry organizations, could address them through the event. This gave the event a clear purpose: to inform and inspire members to engage with sustainability.

To accomplish this, we started the seminar with a challenging presentation from Babette on the realities and scale of climate change. Midway through the event, members were then able to choose workshops where they received practical tips for implementation. Finally, we finished with two quick presentations from publishers explaining their own lessons about their sustainability journeys. 

What’s next for Dutch publishers on climate action?

In the coming period, we will continue to enrich our new platform,, with valuable information regarding sustainability. Additionally, we are exploring the development of a tool for our members to calculate their carbon footprint. We will maintain ongoing conversations with various stakeholders in the supply chain, from distributors to booksellers, to foster collaboration in sustainability efforts. In the summer of 2023, we will launch an SDG Book Club where young individuals will have the opportunity to choose from a selection of books that address climate and other topics related to the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals).

We have the ambition to make the publishing industry more sustainable and we will continue to encourage and support our members in conducting business responsibly in various ways in the coming years!