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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership

Centre for Policy

 

The global economy is facing multiple waves of innovation and change. At the same time, evidence is building that it is both necessary and possible to reshape our society and our economy to resolve the environmental crises we find ourselves facing, to deliver real social benefit to all of society and to secure economic opportunity. However, the change from our current approach to new business and industrial models is not straightforward, requiring innovation and action to tackle political and economic barriers.

The complex and interconnected nature of the challenges we face means no single perspective is sufficient. Business, the finance sector and governments all have a role to play as policy, technology and investment trends all need to be geared to deliver an unprecedented economic transformation.

CISL’s Centre for Policy and Industrial Transformation develops high impact, systemic solutions to drive policy and industrial change towards a sustainable economy.

 to find out more.

 

Collaboration


CISL has pioneered partnerships between business leaders, policy-makers and academics to help unlock the economic change required to deliver the safe and sustainable economy of the future and achieve the goals of critical international agreements such as the Paris Climate Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals. 

The Corporate Leaders Groups

A group of leading global businesses from a range of industries working together to advocate solutions to climate change with policymakers and business peers at the highest level.

Green Growth Partnership

Ministers from 16 governments, 18 members of the EU parliament and over 40 major businesses who discuss and debate the economic opportunities and challenges involved in the transition to a zero carbon economy.

Future of Plastic Packaging

A group of leading bottled water and soft drink manufacturers, convened by CISL, which has set out an ambitious roadmap to eliminate plastic packaging waste from the bottled water and soft drinks value chain in the UK by 2030.

 

Aviation Impact Accelerator

The AIA is an international group of academics and practitioners drawing on a broad range of expertise assembled by the University of Cambridge, to develop an interactive, evidence-based tool to engage decision makers and the wider public in a discussion on the pathways to net zero flight.

   

Interaction with policy

The Centre brings together businesses and policymakers, to co-develop solutions to the climate crisis and broader sustainability challenges. For example, the CLG Europe works at the EU-wide and member-state levels to raise policy ambition and drive the transformation to a zero carbon economy, as well as working in partnership with others to secure wider global action. Through the Green Growth Partnership, CLG Europe members partner with progressive governments and Members of the European Parliament, to explore, promote and pursue the economic and strategic case for an economic transformation in response to climate change. The Centre has organised collaborations with other groups of business and experts to develop policy-relevant insights and consensus on eliminating plastic waste, and transforming heavy industrial sectors.

 

Research


Our research, grounded in business insight and policy understanding, has sought to showcase leading examples and perspectives that can illustrate solutions to the challenges we face. 

Building a net zero carbon economy

Helping businesses prepare for a net zero future

Industrial transformation and the circular economy

Inspiring collaboration and interaction across industrial sectors to drive future productivity and competitiveness. 

Eliminating plastic waste

Helping companies work towards eliminating plastic packaging waste.

Research hub for sustainability

Our research is intended to strengthen the impact of business, government and financial institutions by informing their transition to a sustainable economy.

Working Lives and Climate Change

Starting from youth experience and agency, this research project investigates how climate change in Uganda is affecting young lives and youth livelihoods in the regions of Karamoja and Jinja.

 

Our research is intended to strengthen the impact of business, government and financial institutions by informing their transition to a sustainable economy, herein defined as a net zero, circular, restorative economy within an inclusive, resilient society exhibiting high levels of social and environmental justice. As part of our commitment to enacting real-world change, we have identified five ‘applications in practice’ which drive research at CISL:

  • Future risk and opportunity - A better understanding of sustainability risks allows companies to convert them into opportunities.
  • Business strategies and models - Sustainable business models enable companies to go beyond financial success into purposeful impact on society.
  • Measures, targets and disclosure - Key to trust is transparency, and sustainability provides the perfect performance framework.
  • Culture, capacity and leadership - Seeing problems differently demands leadership, yet this is exactly what companies must do to become agents of positive change.
  • Social and political change - Companies can use their influence to drive sustainability, aligning their ambitions with long-term value creation for society.

This may include harnessing existing research, commissioning new academic research or working with business to pilot new responses and inform our core research themes:

Net zero

Zero carbon

 

Circular economy

Circular economy 

 

Protection of nature

Protection of nature

 

Inclusive and resilient societies

Inclusive and resilient societies

 

Education, advisory and practice


Our education and advisory work develops the capacity of with businesses to engage with their peers and policymakers to leverage change. 

We build the leadership capacity of individuals and help them to address sustainability challenges such as climate change and the circular economy. We equip board directorssenior executivessustainability practitioners and managers across organisations with the with the knowledge and capability to lead change within and beyond their organisations to accelerate progress towards a sustainable, zero carbon economy. 

We also develop the capability of organisations and regions to lead the transition to a zero carbon economy through our customised programmes and advisory work. For example we worked with Sky to help remove single-use plastic from its business through its strategy, leadership, management and engagement. We also worked with Interface to transform its supply chains through new business models. We help organisations to identify material risks and opportunities – including opportunities to shape systemic change, to develop strategies that align sustainability and commercial performance, and to build and inspire leadership capability to drive transformational change across complex systems.

 

Latest thought leadership


Climate talks will fail without more young people's voices

29 June 2021 – Anna Barford, CISL Research Fellow, reflects on why it is critical to engage diverse young people in decision making to find successful pathways to respond to climate change.

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Brexit and UK climate leadership: The emerging opportunities and challenges

18 March 2020 – A new report from University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership examines the opportunities and challenges for climate leadership in the context of Brexit. 

Brexit and UK climate leadership: The emerging opportunities and challenges -Read More…

Working towards a climate neutral Europe: Jobs and skills in a changing world

April 2020 – This CLG Europe report looks at the implications of the transition to a climate neutral economy for jobs and skills in the context of broader megatrends such as globalisation, technological change, resource scarcity and demographic changes.

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Towards sustainable packaging materials: Examining the relative impact of materials in the natural source water and soft drinks value chain

April 2020 - A new report from the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership provides recommendations for businesses and government to help address the issue of eliminating plastic waste. The publication examines how companies from natural water and soft drinks sector can adopt a considered approach in their future packaging material decision making.

Towards sustainable packaging materials: Examining the relative impact of materials in the natural source water and soft drinks value chain -Read More…

Acting Together: How the UK can accelerate action to deliver a thriving net zero economy that works for all

March 2020 – This briefing outlines a set of leadership priorities for the UK Government, which aim to engage all parts of society in taking action in response to climate change.

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Forging a carbon-neutral heavy industry by 2050: How Europe can seize the opportunity

October 2019 – This briefing synthesises some of the latest thinking around the challenges and opportunities involved in decarbonising European heavy industry.

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A new agenda for Europe: Business priorities to deliver a prosperous, climate neutral economy

June 2019 – This briefing sets out what business sees as five priorities for Europe’s new leaders, identifying the key areas where EU policymakers and businesses must work together to deliver a competitive, prosperous, climate neutral future.

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Industrial Transformation 2050: Pathways to net-zero emissions from EU Heavy Industry

April 2019 – The report, supported and co-funded by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), sets out multiple possible pathways the EU could pursue to achieve the full decarbonisation of its heavy industries by 2050.

Industrial Transformation 2050: Pathways to net-zero emissions from EU Heavy Industry -Read More…

 

Academic journal publishes CISL research on social impacts of transition to low carbon economies

15 April 2019 – New research from CISL researchers Dr Sanna Markkanen and Dr Annela Anger-Kraavi, which draws on existing literature on the social co-impacts of climate change and implications for inequality, has been published in the academic journal Climate Policy.

Academic journal publishes CISL research on social impacts of transition to low carbon economies -Read More…

The energy transition in Central and Eastern Europe: The business case for higher ambition

March 2019 – This report explores the emerging economic opportunities and challenges relating to the transition to low carbon, resource efficient economies in three core areas: energy efficiency in buildings, renewable energy, and mobility. It puts forward recommendations for companies and governments in the region to address the current challenges and fully realise the economic opportunities of the energy transition.

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Towards sustainable packaging: A plan to eliminate plastic packaging waste from UK bottled water and soft drinks

September 2018 – The significant challenges presented by plastic packaging waste can only be solved through collaborative actions from business, government and society. This industry-led report lays out practically how stakeholders across the bottled water and soft drinks value chain can work together, and more widely with others, to achieve zero plastic packaging waste from UK bottled water and soft drinks by 2030.

Towards sustainable packaging: A plan to eliminate plastic packaging waste from UK bottled water and soft drinks -Read More…

A business change case study: Sky’s approach to removing single-use plastic from its business

February 2018 – Urgent action is required by business, government and consumers to create a transformational shift in the way we consume and use single-use plastic to stop the flow of this material into the natural environment. This case study explores how Sky has taken action to remove single-use plastic from its business through its strategy, leadership, management and engagement.

A business change case study: Sky’s approach to removing single-use plastic from its business -Read More…

European industry in the 21st century: New models for resource productivity

September 2017 – This report is based on interviews with companies that are using circular economy principles to reduce their exposure to risk, and to access new markets. It discusses some of the successful transformations and changes made, obstacles faced, and potential policies for overcoming those obstacles.

European industry in the 21st century: New models for resource productivity -Read More…

 

UK Industrial Strategy: Navigating a changing world

20 January 2017 – This discussion paper has been commissioned by The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group to inform the development of an industrial strategy fit for the 21st century.

UK Industrial Strategy: Navigating a changing world -Read More…

 

Methane, Markets and Food How the Climate Emergency will drive an urgent focus on methane and what this means for the food and agricultural industries

22 April 2022

Friday 22 April - Faced with the threat of irreversible tipping points in the climate system, humanity is looking for options to rapidly reduce the rate of warming - with the most viable approach being to dramatically reduce methane emissions.

Corporate Leaders Groups top InfluenceMap ranking on climate policy engagement

20 April 2022

20 April 2022 - InfluenceMap has recently launched an interactive platform tracking influencing efforts of companies and industry associations on key files within the EU Green Deal’s landmark initiative of the ‘Fit for 55’ package. The Corporate Leaders Groups were awarded an “A” ranking for their ongoing policy engagement for climate action, topping the industrial association list.

Preparing the runway for sustainable aviation

26 January 2022

26 January 2022 - Miruna Rapeanu and Beth Barker reflect on the challenges and the next steps for the Aviation Impact Accelerator following COP26.

CISL and the Corporate Leaders Groups respond to Glasgow Climate Pact

15 November 2021

15 November 2021 – On 13 November, a final COP26 agreement was reached within the Scottish Events Campus in Glasgow. The Glasgow Climate Pact will mean that all nations should formulate and publish updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement for 2030 by the time COP27 begins in Egypt. They should strive to align targets and plans with a 1.5C temperature pathway.

The moment of truth?

15 November 2021

15 November 2021 - Eliot Whittington, Director of the Corporate Leaders Groups, argues COP26 was not the failure some have accused it of being - but now the onus is on businesses to prove their critics wrong

Living in the Climate Crisis: Young People in Uganda

1 November 2021

5 November 2021 - This report documents the diverse livelihood strategies of young people living in Uganda, the impacts of climate change on their lives, and the adaptation and mitigation strategies that they have employed to address the crisis so far. By foregrounding views of young people, our research presents a vivid picture of how climate disruptions are already impacting young people.

High-level event – On the Borderline: The EU CBAM and its place in the world of trade, 25 October 2021

8 October 2021

Learn more about how the EU proposal for a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism is driving forward discussions around trade and climate.

University of Cambridge leads team developing a simulator to accelerate the path to net zero flight

25 August 2021

Cambridge University announces the launch of the Aviation Impact Accelerator (AIA), an international group of experts in aerospace, economics, policy, and climate science, who are building an interactive evidence-based simulator that enables exploration of scenarios for achieving net zero flight.

Targeting Net Zero: A strategic framework for business action

5 July 2021

Introduction A net zero emission economy will be essential to maintain a stable global climate. The private sector has a critical role in delivering this and there is a growing body of evidence to demonstrate that it makes good business sense to act. Business action on climate change can inform...

Climate talks will fail without more young people's voices

29 June 2021

29 June 2021 – Anna Barford, CISL Research Fellow, reflects on why it is critical to engage diverse young people in decision making to find successful pathways to respond to climate change.

Rewiring the Economy

The Centre contributes directly to CISL’s Rewiring the Economy plan.Read more