Springer Nature Group has published its fourth annual report on its progress as a Sustainable Business. The report, which covers environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance, shares the steps being taken to champion open science, support delivery of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, and the work it is doing to reduce its own environmental impact. The company updates on the progress it is making in increasing diversity, equity and inclusion within its own leadership and how it is seeking to influence greater inclusion within the research and education communities it works with. The report also highlights the role of research publishing in the global endeavour to tackle COVID-19.
Since 2017, Springer Nature has taken significant steps to reduce its net carbon emissions and in March 2020 pledged to become carbon neutral. The Sustainable Business Report confirms the company is now net carbon neutral for carbon emissions associated with its offices, fleet and flights (Scopes 1, 2 and partial Scope 3). This has been achieved by significantly increasing the use of green electricity, via suppliers or through renewable energy certificates, for more than 150 offices around the world, and the use of high-quality and socially-responsible carbon offsets from CommuniTree, a Plan Vivo-certified reforestation and carbon balancing project in Nicaragua.
During the year, Springer Nature has built on its commitments to improve diversity, equity and inclusion across its business. On track to meet its 2023 targets for greater diversity in leadership, women now make up 43% of Springer Nature’s most senior leaders – up from 39% in 2018. In 2021, the company is committed to setting targets for race, ethnicity and international representation in leadership.
As a leader in publishing independent and evidence-based research tackling societally important issues, the 2020 Sustainable Business Report shares some of the ways in which it is supporting delivery of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Since the Goals were signed by 197 countries in 2015, Springer Nature has published more than 300,000 relevant articles or book chapters, which collectively have been downloaded more than 750 million times.
CEO Frank Vrancken Peeters commented: “2020 was a year like no other: the COVID-19 pandemic affected all our lives and showed unequivocally the importance of a research ecosystem that can operate at its most efficient. These events have highlighted the need for collaborations that can accelerate solutions to urgent global challenges including climate change. I am proud to say that we are now net carbon neutral and we continue to work to reduce the wider environmental impacts of our publishing, while sharing critical research on climate change, adaptation and mitigation with the policymakers and practitioners who need it most.”
The 2020 Sustainable Business Report addresses the most significant material issues for Springer Nature, including:
Accelerating solutions to urgent societal challenges
- Since the UN launched its sustainable development goals (SDGs) in 2015, Springer Nature has published more than 300,000 articles or book chapters relevant to the SDGs, and these have been downloaded more than 750 million times. Between 2015 and 2020 the volume of SDG-relevant content published by Springer Nature increased by more than 72%
- Springer Nature is committed to an open research future, and is the most comprehensive OA publisher in the world. We have published more immediately OA content than any other publisher – more than 900,000 OA articles by the end of 2020 and over 1,000 OA books.
Championing diversity, equity and inclusion
- 2023 target set for 45% women in the most senior leadership tiers. In 2020 the figure reached 43%, up from 39% in 2018.
Using technology to advance discovery and learning
- In 2020, Springer Nature’s technology enabled delivery of over three billion online article and book chapter downloads – 50% more than in 2019. That’s 15 article or book chapter downloads for each of the approximately 200 million university students and researchers in the world.
- During the pandemic, Springer Nature’s technology teams developed solutions to enable authorised users to easily access content from any location. More than 13 million researchers benefited from Persisted Access across nature.com and SpringerLink.
Living our values
- We are committed to taking action on Springer Nature’s carbon footprint and in 2020, for the first time, became carbon neutral for emissions related to our offices, fleet and flights (Scopes 1, 2 and partial Scope 3). Gross carbon emissions fell by around 59%, due to the effects of COVID-19 lockdowns, before the purchase of green electricity and renewable electricity certificates is accounted for, compared with 2019.
- Springer Nature’s green office network of more than 120 volunteers from across the company helps engage colleagues in ways to reduce the company’s, and their personal, environmental impacts.