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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

Leading companies recognise that a prosperous business relies upon nature. Nature’s health is under pressure from upward trends for consumption, population and economic growth across the globe. This creates long-term risks to business, consumers and wider society who depend on nature. Through its Business and Nature team, CISL collaborates with companies to identify what the ecological crisis means for their businesses and take steps to transform their operations and strategies.  We provide the structured path that businesses need to establish sustainability solutions and create momentum at scale. 

Catchment Leadership Network

A collaborative initiative that aims to drive a step change in catchment management by bringing together businesses from across sectors with UK government and NGO stakeholders.

Business for Nature

CISL is a key partner in helping this coalition demonstrate business action and amplify a powerful business voice calling for governments to reverse nature loss.


Thought leadership and news

Pavan Sukhdev: Can today’s corporations deliver tomorrow’s economy?

23 October 2014

December 2012 – As nations entered Rio+20 to negotiate around the theme of a “green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication”, I was left confused. UNEP’s report Towards a Green Economy defined a “green economy” as one which increases well-being and social equity whilst reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. In other words, a green economy must reduce poverty and inequity. So why did the UN feel the need to reiterate this as a tautology in the central theme in the run-up to Rio?

Jeremy Grantham: Living on a finite planet (where no-one likes to hear bad news)

23 October 2014

December 2012 – We’re going through one of those very rare things indeed: a paradigm shift. Having spent the past 200 years with the prices for everything declining, around 2002 this shifted, and the price of almost everything started going up. In 10 years, without much fuss, we’ve given back all the price declines of the previous 100 years. That’s quite a remarkable shift.

Professor Jorgen Randers: 2052: A global forecast for the next forty years

23 October 2014

December 2012 – If I could persuade you of one thing, it should be this: the world is small and fragile, and humanity is huge, dangerous and powerful. This is a total reversal of the biblical perspective on humanity, and the way in which man has thought during most of his presence on Earth. But this is the perspective we need to take if we’re to be sure that sustainability emerges or, at least, that the world as we know it survives for a couple of hundred more years.

Sustainable Water Stewardship: The Next Big Step Forward

23 October 2014

June 2011 – summary of the workshop on Sustainable Water Stewardship: The Next Big Step Forward, organised by the University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership (CPSL) and sponsored by Anglian Water.

SABMiller Case Study – Academic paper: Assessing the externalities of SABMiller's barley extension program in Rajasthan

23 October 2014

November 2013 – This report examines the externalities associated with the increased production of malting barley for a brewery in Rajasthan, India. The company has been working with independent small scale farmers to increase yields through better crop management and increased adoption of new barley varieties that are more beneficial to the brewing process than the feed barley which has traditionally been grown in Rajasthan.

SABMiller Case Study: The (Sustainable) Business Case for Natural Capital Valuation

23 October 2014

November 2013 – Working closely with the Natural Capital Leaders Platform and academics co-funded by the Valuing Nature Network, SABMiller developed its own valuation study, using a bottom-up approach.

E.Valu.A.Te Practical Guide

23 October 2014

November 2013 – E.Valu.A.Te: The Practical Guide forms a part of this suite of resources, including an online tool. The Practical Guide provides the technical background and additional information to assist the use of the online tool.

E.Valu.A.Te Listening to Business

23 October 2014

November 2013 – This report discusses what businesses need to close the gap between understanding/identifying externalities and mainstreaming the response to address them.

Natural Performance Metrics Selection Framework

23 October 2014

December 2013 – Over the last few years, progressive companies have significantly advanced their understanding of natural capital and the critical services provided by nature, including food, fibre and water provision through to clear air and climate regulation. But to go further, and embed this into day-to-day business processes and decision making, it is vital that these companies select the most informative metrics to manage their impacts and dependencies on these resources effectively.

Linking Landscapes and Livelihoods Framework Overview

23 October 2014

April 2014 – A series of in-depth interviews were carried out in the summer of 2013, across the business operations of companies and with key external stakeholders, to collect information on current business practice and the decision-making points which impact on smallholder engagement. These interviews informed the development of the framework.