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Ways in which AGU demonstrates support for the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a publisher.


The Editors’ Vox blog is published by the Publications Department of AGU.

As the world’s largest scientific society for the Earth and space sciences, AGU cares about our planet, its systems, and all the living things dependent upon it. AGU’s vision includes a “thriving, sustainable and equitable future supported by scientific discovery, innovation, and action.” Our mission is to advance the potential of Earth and space sciences for the benefit of humanity and the environment. More specifically, one of the strategic goals is to “catalyze discovery and solutions to scientific and societal challenges”.

As a society publisher, the Publications Department under AGU is dedicated to promoting sustainability and sustainable development, as well as supporting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As part of our commitment to Global Goals Week, an annual event focused on taking action, raising awareness, and being accountable for the SDGs, we would like to highlight some of our initiatives in this field.

AGU is dedicated to promoting research that aligns with the goals of sustainability. As part of this commitment, we have signed the SDG Publishers Compact along with more than 100 other organizations.

AGU has demonstrated its dedication to promoting sustainability by joining the SDG Publishers Compact along with more than 100 other signatories. This initiative, created by the United Nations and the International Publishers Association, urges publishers and publishing associations to adopt sustainable practices and serve as advocates for the SDGs. By publishing informative and inspiring books and journals, these organizations can contribute to the advancement of the SDGs and encourage action towards achieving them.

The individuals who sign this document are requested to pledge their support for ten specific actions. Many of these actions are already being carried out by AGU. Some examples are provided below in the hopes that they will motivate others to also take similar steps or to join forces with us. This also fulfills one of the commitments outlined in the agreement, which requires signatories to report on their progress each year.

Actively promoting and acquiring content in support of SDGs

Besides the customary discovery science menu released by AGU, our dedication to the SDGs involves promoting the dissemination of solution-focused science, specifically studies that tackle pressing global concerns and social problems like climate change, air pollution, and natural disaster resilience. However, we acknowledge the ongoing importance of discovery science, as it serves as the foundation for the research and approaches necessary for solution-based and policy-oriented science.

The database Dimensions has incorporated a classification system created by Springer Nature and VSNU/UKB, utilizing machine learning, to label content pertaining to the SDGs. The methodology and data used for this system can be found on Zenodo. Users can utilize Dimension’s explorer tool to access articles related to the SDGs for free. By expanding the “Research Categories” filter on the left, all SDGs can be viewed. This tool was used to gain a better understanding of the quantity and range of our published work that pertains to sustainable development. A search was conducted on all articles published between 2017 and 2022 in 21 journals indexed in Dimensions (excluding Perspectives of Earth and Space Scientists and Community Science Journal) for SDG tags. The percentage of journal articles connected to at least one SDG increased each year, from 31% in 2017 to 38% in 2022.

We examined the main topics covered in our books released between 2017 and 2023. Almost every year, a range of 2 to 4 out of our total 9 to 15 publications have directly addressed the Sustainable Development Goals.

We are pleased to observe that all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are represented in our recent publications. It was not unexpected that the largest number of article connections were related to the three goals directly linked to the geosciences: Goal 13 on Climate Action, Goal 14 on Life Below Water, and Goal 15 on Life On Land. We also had a significant amount of content relevant to Goal 3 on Good Health and Well-Being, including research on pollution and harmful substances in the air, soil, and water; Goal 6 on Clean Water and Sanitation, which covers topics such as groundwater resources and urban water networks; Goal 7 on Affordable and Clean Energy, which includes studies on carbon dioxide sequestration and renewable energy options; and Goal 11 on Sustainable Cities and Communities, which addresses the resilience of urban areas to natural disasters like flooding and coastal inundation.

We are highlighting our published content that pertains to the SDGs by including SDG icons in features discussing topics such as heavy metal buildup in the Nile Delta, the effects of pesticide exposure on human and ecosystem well-being, and the development of a more resilient public water system in response to climate change.

An example of a Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) link that has been included at the end of an article feature on Eos.org.

One way we promote our sustainable development-related content is by organizing collections of articles on specific topics. For instance, in March 2023, in honor of World Water Day, we gathered articles from our journals that discuss The Obstacles to Obtaining Clean Water and Potential Solutions for Sustainable Management. In August 2023, we also compiled a special collection of interdisciplinary research from our journals on the role of Geoscience in Promoting Sustainable Cities and Communities. This collection showcases research that contributes to the development of inclusive, safe, and resilient communities worldwide.

Bridging the gap between research and application.

According to the SDG Publishers Compact Fellows, a subgroup of the SDG Publishers Compact, those who have signed the Compact are obligated to synchronize the daily routines, content, and definitions of success with the SDGs across the entire research and education community. There is a comprehensive collection of essential steps that various segments of the scholarly community can implement. These informational sheets can be accessed for free on the Fellows’ webpage, which includes a guide for Publishers, Editors, and Reviewers, as well as one for Connecting Researchers and Practitioners.

The Fellows suggest that editors and publishers should encourage academic researchers to communicate the impact of their work to practitioners, in addition to collecting data and expanding content. This aligns with AGU’s goal of making research more applicable and is in line with other global efforts to make science more actionable. At AGU Publications, we promote this by asking authors to write a summary in simple language and share three main points about their article. We also offer training for authors at our yearly conference and through online seminars to help them effectively communicate their scientific findings.

In March of 2023, we collaborated with UNESCO to release the Geoscience in Action report. This report highlights the interconnection between the geosciences and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. By using global examples, it illustrates how the geosciences offer various approaches, resources, and advancements that can be utilized to shape policies and address significant challenges for our planet and its inhabitants.

Committing to sustainable publishing practices and policies

As an organization and publisher, we take responsibility for our impact on the environment and are taking steps to decrease our energy usage and carbon footprint. For instance, our headquarters in Washington DC has been renovated to operate as a net zero energy building. We strive to organize sustainable meetings and events that are financially viable, environmentally friendly, and socially responsible. In terms of our Publications Department, we have made a conscious effort to reduce our paper usage. Since 2017, all AGU journals have been available exclusively in electronic format. We have also decreased the amount of promotional materials we print and provided our editors with digital resources for community outreach. To lessen the environmental effects of travel, we have minimized the number and frequency of in-person journal editorial board meetings. Our publishing partner, Wiley, shares our commitment to environmentally sustainable practices.

The examples given demonstrate how members of the scholarly publishing community can contribute towards achieving the SDGs. In the future, we aim to actively seek out additional journal special collections and books related to the SDGs. We also anticipate an increase in the number of our publications that address significant global and societal issues. We will provide updates on our progress and welcome collaboration from those interested in joining our efforts.

—Mia Ricci ([email protected], 0000-

“Jenny Lunn (0000-0002-8789-0565) is listed as a contributor.”0000-0002-4731-6876); Paige Wooden (0000-0001-5104-8440); and Tanya Dzekon (0000-0003-2230-1341), Publications Department, American Geophysical Union

Reference: Ricci, M., Lunn, J., Wooden, P., & Dzekon, T. (2023). Ways for publishers to promote the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: snapshots from AGU. Eos, 104, https://doi.org/10.1029/2023EO235026. Published on September 20th, 2023.

The views expressed in this article do not reflect those of AGU, Eos, or any related organizations. They are solely the opinions of the author(s).

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