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TLL and SPLiCE Launching Sustainability Award Program

There’s some exciting news this month as The Licensing Letter and SPLiCE launch a new program recognizing those companies leading the way on sustainability in the licensing industry. 

Beginning Nov. 1, The Licensing Letter and the Society of Product Licensors Committed to Excellence (SPLiCE) will present an award every month to a company for its innovations in the area of reducing pollution, waste, or carbon emissions. 

Discussions around the topic have been ongoing for months, but the impetus to take action immediately came from the series of climate change-related disasters in the US and around the world. 

“We’ve known for decades that climate change would bring more extreme weather, and would impact our people and our economies around the world,” says SPLiCE CEO Kimberly Kociencki. “This year, however, we have seen millions of people devastated by climate-related disasters. We have seen people losing their homes to wildfire across the western United States, in Europe and Algeria. We were shocked when hundreds of people died of heat exposure in the normally temperate Pacific Northwest and in Canada. Recently, another climate-fuelled hurricane has devastated the coastal regions of Louisiana and Mississippi. 

“It’s very clear the climate disasters predicted by scientists in the 1980s are now here, and things will continue to get worse until we first reduce and then eliminate greenhouse gas emissions.”

Gary Symons, the Editor in Chief of the Licensing Letter, says climate change is no longer something that will happen in the future, or that will affect other people far away. 

“Despite the terrible impact of the pandemic, 2021 has been the year when it was made clear to all that the worst crisis we face on Earth is runaway global warming,” said Symons. “All of us have been part of the problem, but all of us can be part of the solution, and I do believe there are solutions to this unprecedented global emergency.

“We hope, by recognizing those companies that are working toward sustainability, and telling their stories, that we can inspire others to launch their own environmental programs.”

Symons has in some ways been on the front lines of the climate crisis for many years. As a reporter based in British Columbia, Canada, Symons covered weather related disasters for more than two decades, and prior to that time he was a forestry worker and woodlands firefighter for three years.

“When I fought fires way back in the 1980s, no one I met in BC had ever seen a Rank 6 wildfire,” said Symons. “Now these fires happen with terrifying frequency. As a reporter in 2003, I covered what turned out to be the first of many disastrous fire seasons in Canada, when both the town of Barriere and parts of the city of Kelowna lost hundreds of homes and businesses to wildfire, touching off what were then the largest evacuations in Canadian history. 

“Now, these types of disasters are almost commonplace, as we’ve lost homes and even entire towns to Rank 6 wildfires.”

This year, in 2021, the Province of BC made global headlines during the recent ‘heat dome’ crisis, when the rural town of Lytton reached a previously unheard of temperature of 49.6 degrees Celsius during the heat wave. The next day, the entire town burned to the ground. 

In the following months, fires spread across BC, Washington State, Oregon, and California, leaving devastation and ruined communities in their wake. All of the American Southwest faces a devastating drought, while the Gulf Coast in Louisiana and Mississippi have been devastated by climate-fueled, Category 4 hurricane.

Symons, who works remotely from Kelowna, BC, fled the smoke-filled Okanagan Valley to work from his family cabin on the relatively cool BC coast, but even there the impacts of global warming could be seen. 

“Between the extreme heat and the thick smoke, it was difficult even to breathe, so coming to Savary Island from the Okanagan Valley was like escaping hell and landing in paradise,” he recalls. “We arrived at a time when a pod of humpback whales had moved into the area. We spent our free time hiking, kayaking and paddle boarding, all while these majestic whales were breaching and playing nearby. 

“It was almost magical, but then we began noticing other things. While walking on the beach, we realized that all of the oysters, mussels and other shellfish had died, and then we learned that the temperatures had gotten so extreme, these millions of shellfish had literally cooked inside their shells. 

“While we enjoyed our time at Savary, we were horrified to see yet another environmental disaster unfolding before our eyes.”

Ironically, it was during this wave of heat, wildfires and floods that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its in-depth report on the state of climate change on Earth, and the news, not surprisingly, is not good. 

“If you read the IPCC’s Summary for Policy Makers, it’s hard not to be frightened for the future of our planet and our society,” says Kociencki. “We already know it’s unavoidable that we will see increasing extreme weather events for the coming decades, but what is truly terrifying is what will happen if we don’t cut global greenhouse emissions radically within the next 30 years. 

“The IPCC Report makes it clear that, if global temperature increases are not kept below 1.5 degrees Celsius, we will see increased wildfires, frequent droughts, catastrophic flooding, loss of land masses due to rising ocean levels, and more frequent hurricanes. Worst of all, it is entirely possible that many parts of the world will literally become uninhabitable due to extreme heat.”

Kociencki adds, however, that it is not too late for governments and businesses to act. 

“We think of the IPCC report as a call to arms in the fight against climate change,” she explained. “There will be unavoidable impacts from global warming, but it is not too late to stave off the worst impacts of global warming, and to maintain an environment that will support our society and our global economy. 

“We believe our industry has a leading role to play in reducing waste, curbing pollution, and most of all, in reducing carbon emissions,” Kociencki says. “With the help of The Licensing Letter, we hope to help innovative companies share their stories on what they’re doing to make their businesses more sustainable while remaining prosperous, and that’s really what these awards are about.”

SPLiCE and TLL are now inviting all companies within the licensing industry to submit their stories about current or upcoming programs intended to increase sustainability, and help all of us live on a healthier planet.

Submissions can be sent directly to Gary Symons by email at

The first Sustainability in Licensing Award will be revealed in the Oct.1 edition of The Licensing Letter, and on the publication’s home page at

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