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Centre for Business Transformation

Tomorrow’s successful companies will need to align purpose, strategy, and ambition with long-term value creation for society in order to play their part in delivering a sustainable economy.

CISL’s Centre for Business Transformation works with influential businesses and their stakeholders to explore the critical questions that will inform the future of corporations, enabling the ‘rewiring’ of business through the development of commercially viable, high-impact solutions and effective approaches to embed sustainability across culture, governance, leadership and systems.

Combining practitioner-focused research and thought leadership, convening innovative communities of practice, strategic advisory services and world-class education programmes, the Centre will support organisations to develop transition pathways to zero carbon, to achieve healthy ecosystems and resource security, and to optimise, measure and demonstrate their value to and impact upon society.

about the opportunities to work with the Centre.

 

The work of the Centre


The Centre aims to help business deliver a sustainable economy.

Our 2015 publication, Rewiring the Economy, identified four strategic tasks that business needs to address in order to create long-term value in the context of a sustainable economy. While some businesses are already making progress on these, we know that in many instances key questions need to be answered in order to unlock scalable, meaningful progress.

Our work with businesses over the last 30 years indicates that in many instances, even when leadership teams are enthusiastic and energised about their role in delivering a sustainable future, often it is unclear what they need to do, how they should prioritise tasks, and which stakeholders they need to engage in order to be most effective.

 

Key questions


The Centre aims to unpack and explore some of these key questions, working by convening organisations to explore, research and analyse solutions, as well as drawing on expertise within the University to pilot solutions.

Possible lines of inquiry could include:

  • What are the pathways for hard-to-abate companies to transition to a sustainable economy?
  • How can business demonstrate and optimise its value and impact on society and the environment?
  • How can businesses restore and regenerate the environment while remaining profitable and building competitive advantage?
  • What role should business play in reversing growing inequality?
  • Why should and how can businesses positively influence their external system (value chain, peers, regions, regulation etc)?
  • What organisational culture and leadership is more effective to deliver sustainability within companies? And what are the implications for governance and structures?

While the Centre for Policy and Industrial Transformation has a primary focus on the interface between government and business, this Centre will primarily look at the most important questions that businesses need to answer.

 

Workstreams for the next 12 months


Over the next 12 months, the Centre will work to identify and respond to the most important questions that will shape the future of corporations. It will do so through:

Convening organisations

We will convene organisations to raise the collective level of ambition; understand common challenges and barriers to progress; and co-create or co-fund solutions. In many instances, even the largest and most progressive business cannot adequately respond alone.

Conducting research

The Centre will address the gaps in the evidence base that are barriers to business progress, for example, through demonstrating the value of a purpose-led strategy, or identifying rigorous methodologies to achieve traceability across supply chains. This may include harnessing existing research, commissioning new academic research (including via The Prince of
Wales Global Sustainability Fellowship Programme
) or working with business to pilot new responses.

Supporting businesses to find specific answers

Where required, the Centre will help individual organisations develop and pilot new, scalable solutions to common business challenges that push the boundaries of leading practice.

Each of these activities will draw on CISL’s long-standing relationships with businesses across key sectors including members of the Natural Capital Impact Group.

 

Latest business transformation publications


Linking planetary boundaries to business: Part of Kering’s series on planetary boundaries for business

January 2019 – Incorporating the Planetary Boundary framework into business decision-making can help companies understand the consequences of their environmental impacts at a global level and provide a critical new perspective on how to tackle their impact.

Linking planetary boundaries to business: Part of Kering’s series on planetary boundaries for business - Read More…

The future of sustainable business: Reflections from 30 sustainability leaders

December 2018 – In a period of urgent environmental and social challenges, it's clear that business as usual cannot deliver the required response at the pace and scale required to achieve a positive impact. This working paper highlights the challenges and opportunities faced by businesses during periods of change, outlining the leadership required to deliver positive actions.

The future of sustainable business: Reflections from 30 sustainability leaders - Read More…

Catchment management: the declaration

May 2018 – This declaration is a call from business, civil society organisations and the public sector to commit to the water catchment-related ambition of the UK Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan and support collective activities that will deliver successful catchment management.

Catchment management: the declaration - Read More…

The pollination deficit: Towards supply chain resilience in the face of pollinator decline

April 2018 – Companies face potential shortages of raw materials, a fall in crop quality and challenges around security of supply because of an emerging pollination deficit, according to a report authored by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and the University of East Anglia (UEA).

The pollination deficit: Towards supply chain resilience in the face of pollinator decline - Read More…

Rewiring leadership: The future we want, the leadership we need

March 2018 – Businesses face unprecedented change from social and environmental challenges, technical innovation and business model innovation. There is growing public expectation and a commercial case for businesses to shape and lead the change we need for a better future – not just adapt to it. This report outlines the Cambridge Impact Leadership Model, informed by CISL’s work with over 9,000 leaders. It describes how to develop the leadership we need to deliver value for business, society and the environment.

Rewiring leadership: The future we want, the leadership we need - Read More…

Modelling better business: Nestlé trials natural capital premium with UK dairy farmers

February 2018 – In the first in a series of ‘Modelling better business’ case studies, the Natural Capital Impact Group (NCIG) showcase its work with Nestlé to protect natural capital through an innovative scheme which provides dairy farmers with a price premium for taking practical measures to enhance the natural environment.

Modelling better business: Nestlé trials natural capital premium with UK dairy farmers - Read More…