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“Brand owners need to make bold decisions to evoke change”

BBC Studios’ Rikesh Desai on why, as an industry, we need to adopt a more deliberate and ambitious approach to sustainability.

“2020 was meant to be the year in which we all focused on climate change, especially with the UN Climate Change Summit (COP26) due to take place in Glasgow in November 2020,” writes Rikesh Desai, licensing director for merchandise, partnerships and interactive at BBC Studios. “However, in the wake of the pandemic, it has been pushed back to November 2021. With the continuing health crisis at the forefront of everyone’s thoughts, the big question is – what will we do in 2021 to address the climate crisis?

There are parallels between the pandemic and the climate crisis. We had pre-warning of both climate change and the potential for a new coronavirus, but due to an unwillingness to modify our behaviour, the warnings weren’t heeded, meaning we’re now left to deal with the consequences whilst working to prevent similar events, or, in the case of climate change, to mitigate and limit its effects.

However, there were some positives that came from lockdown. We’ve changed how we do business, the way we travel, what, where and how we buy, how we even interact. When the lockdown is finally lifted, I am optimistic that some of these new behaviours will remain – that our renewed care for the planet will be a long-term and not just a short-term response.

Similarly, as an industry we have started to realise that we’re all in this together and the time is now for us to not revert to a ‘business-as-usual’ approach. As we plan for life post pandemic, this is vital if we are to make significant progress in the limited time we have left to act.

There is a risk we become shortsighted in what we want and set short-term goals linked to only the bottom line, which in turn has a big impact on the decisions we prioritise. This is where initiatives, such Products of Change come in, helping to provide the knowledge, know how and connections that individuals and businesses require to motivate them to take action, and thus lead the way to wider change.

As our industry wakes up to the severity of the environmental destruction, we must collectively demand more urgent action from our business leaders and work together as a global community to achieve this. We must acknowledge that now is the time our industry needs to commit to real positive change. More consumers than ever are making an effort to buy greener, healthier, ethically sourced and more environmentally sustainable products.

As an industry we need to adopt a more deliberate and ambitious approach with brand owners making bold decisions to evoke change. This is certainly something we are focused on at BBC Studios and we are committed to working with our partners to help create a more sustainable future.”

This feature originally appeared in the spring 2021 edition of Licensing Source Book. To read the full publication, click on this link.

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