IPA President Bodour Al Qasimi (centre front), SBA Chairman Ahmed Al Ameri (right), and other attendees of the 'Publishers Conference' at Expo Centre Sharjah on Sunday Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: Stakeholders have joined a global recovery movement for the publishing sector reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, it was revealed during the ‘Publishers Conference’ in Sharjah on Sunday.

In the lead up to the 40th Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF), diverse voices representing the global publishing ecosystem have come together for the 11th edition of the three-day conference to unite industrywide efforts to build a roadmap for post-pandemic recovery.

Organised by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) in partnership with the International Publishers Association (IPA) at Expo Centre Sharjah, the conference began on Sunday highlighting the need for stronger stakeholder collaboration.

In a keynote address, IPA President Bodour Al Qasimi reiterated their commitment to help support publishers emerge stronger from the pandemic.

“As we celebrate the 125th anniversary of the IPA this year, we are reminded of its long-standing role in giving a voice to publishers around the world”, said Al Qasimi, recounting the role IPA has played during global crises as well as throughout history to address key issues such as protection of copyright, freedom to publish and the development of literacy.

‘Inspire Plan’

Referring to IPA discussions in the context of the pandemic over the past 18 months, she added: “We want to enhance multi-stakeholder cooperation and strengthen solidarity between each. This is why the IPA worked with many partners to develop the International ‘Sustainable Publishing and Industry Resilience Plan’, also known as the ‘Inspire Plan’.”

More than 50 publishing stakeholders have already committed to collaborating on its 10 objectives, following its recent launch. “We hope to see more trade organisations endorse the Plan during [SIBF], and strengthen our chance of a strong recovery through collective action and increased dialogue,” the IPA President said.

Bridging the skills gap

She also reiterated to the conference attendees that IPA is working with partners to help bridge the skills gap through the launch of IPA Academy.

Upon its launch, “the Academy will offer online masterclasses in multiple languages to all our members, which will help bridge the skills gap, and help our members adapt to rapidly changing readership and consumer behaviour trends”.

Publishing sector on UN agenda?

Welcoming participants to the conference, SBA Chairman Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri said: “In 2001, the world agreed on the Millennium Development Goals, and in 2015, the United Nations announced the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. The vital sectors of growth as identified by these Goals included health, education, services and food security. I suggest putting the publishing sector on this list too as it fulfils functions vital to life and progress.”

Delegates heard from a panel discussion at the conference Image Credit: Supplied

Landmark charter

Leading the professional agenda of the conference was a panel discussion that explored IPA’s Inspire Plan.

Moderating a conversation on ‘Coming Together in Crisis: How the International Sustainable Publishing and Industry Resilience (Inspire) Initiative is Supporting Industry Recovery in Unprecedented Times’, IPA Vice President Karine Pansa said: “Inspire was born from a landmark IPA report ‘From Response to Recovery: The Impact of COVID-19 on the Global Publishing Industry’, published in November 2020. A headline finding was a universal call for solidarity in working together towards a more coherent and resilient publishing industry. Our future will be even more co-dependent, and stakeholders need the support of IPA, of governments, and local and international agencies and bodies.”