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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)



Why positive impact matters

The Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Climate Agreement have given the private sector welcome clarity about what success for truly sustainable development looks like over coming decades. 

They have also prompted the emerging realisation that for business models to thrive long into the future, they will need to be ‘net positive’. This means they will need to have a greater positive impact on society and the environment than the costs they impose. 

Financial institutions, driven by demand from various of their customer segments, are therefore looking for commercially grounded ways to orientate their portfolios towards businesses that have a positive overall impact. Yet they face significant challenges in navigating the complexity of what this means in practice. 


What is CISL is doing about it?

Decision-makers in business, government and finance need help to understand how to measure and prioritise positive impact in the context of the natural and social systems represented by both the Sustainable Development Goals and the transition to a net zero carbon economy. They need multi-disciplinary expertise that is authoritative, independent and worthy of their trust. 

Against this backdrop, CISL convenes industry groups to develop commercial strategies and performance metrics that help financial institutions embed business change with confidence. We also work with financial regulators and policymakers to ensure that planned interventions orientate the market appropriately towards enabling greater allocation to positive impact.


Our work and thought leadership

CISL’s Centre for Sustainable Finance welcomes the UK’s Green Finance Strategy

1 July 2019

2 July 2019 – Today the UK government has launched its Green Finance Strategy, setting out its green finance objectives and ambitions.

Applying the Long View to Investment Funds: Introducing the Long-term Disclosure Framework

11 March 2019

March 2019 – The Investment Leaders Group (ILG) has developed an original framework that can be used by institutional and retail investors, and by their advisors, to assess the long-term orientation of the investment funds that they are being offered.

In search of impact - Measuring the full value of capital: Update: The Sustainable Investment Framework

28 January 2019

January 2019 – Supporting progress against SDGs has become one of the main objectives of the sustainable finance industry. However, measurement of this progress at fund level from both institutional and retail investors is still only developing. Although many challenges remain to be solved, the Investment Leaders Group, convened by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) has designed a set of six open-source metrics which investors can use as proxies for their progress towards the SDGs.

Better measures needed to help savers choose investment products, new report finds

28 January 2019

January 31 2019 – The Investment Leaders Group found that the data necessary to assess the social and environmental impact of funds is lacking.

Measuring investment impacts

19 December 2018

The Investment Leaders Group (ILG) has developed an original framework to allow the industry to quantify investment impacts. Our aim is to enable a ‘revolution’ in consumer choice in financial services. This means making the social and environmental impacts of investment transparent to financial consumers in the same way that health and other concerns are apparent to food consumers today.

Trustees should prioritise climate risk

15 October 2018

15 October 2018 – The facts speak for themselves and must be acted on – trustees need to prioritise climate risk says Andrew Voysey, CISL’s Director for Sustainable Finance.

Understanding investments’ sustainability performance to enable more sustainable investment choices

12 October 2018

October 2018 – The concept note proposes a new approach that would help pension beneficiaries make better decisions regarding the sustainability performance of their pensions.

In search of impact: Measuring the full value of capital

9 May 2016

May 2016 – As fiduciaries, investors gain by helping beneficiaries make informed choices about the management of their savings and investments. This report aims to help the investment industry empower savers to understand the impact of their investments on the critical challenges of our generation and to invest in line with their world views.

Rewiring the Economy

This work relates directly to Rewiring the Economy, CISL's ten-year plan to lay the foundations for a sustainable economy.

Task 4: Ensure capital acts for the long term

Task 5: Price capital according to the true costs of business activities