skip to content

Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

Education services


We help individuals understand the changing context for the financial sector, the risks and opportunities for key industry sectors and clients, and changing stakeholder needs and expectations. Our courses explore opportunities for value creation, examine risks for the current approaches and equip individuals to navigate a growing range of tools and methodologies to analyse and report risk and impact.

Our programmes are carefully customised to each organisation’s needs and context. From targeted board level briefings, to targeted interventions for specific audiences such as client relationship managers, through to support for awareness-raising at scale. In practical terms, these can vary from short briefings, to multi-day residential or modular programmes over several months, to facilitated strategy workshops, and bespoke online courses.

 Contact us to learn how our education programmes .


Organisational strategy Organisational strategy development

We help organisations align strategy with sustainability through: 

  • Better understanding of the underlying science, economic analysis, stakeholder and investor expectations, evolving regulatory requirements, leading practice and likely shifts in the real economy.
  • Mapping risks, opportunities and impacts of sustainability and developing strategic responses to enhance competitive positioning and long term commercial performance.

Example: Developing strategy at the group level of a major British bank

CISL has a long-term relationship to engage the Board, executive teams across all commercial divisions and key functions. This engagement has informed a commercially-relevant strategy which anticipates and addresses environmental challenges and opportunities, builds cross-group alignment and supports the development of detailed implementation plans. 

Target setting Upskilling Boards

We help Boards:

  • Understand changes to fiduciary responsibility in light of new sustainability-related risks such as climate change and disclosure requirements.
  • Analyse the risks and opportunities that sustainability – and particularly climate change – poses for the organisation’s long term commercial performance.
  • Engage their executive team on the alignment of strategy with sustainability.

Example: Climate change briefing for the Board of an international insurance group

In 2018, we ran an intensive briefing on the implications of climate change on the insurance sector. This customised engagement reviewed best practice internationally and provided an independent perspective on how the client could build climate resilience and align investments to support the transition to a sustainable economy. As a result of this, the Board called for a more ambitious strategy on climate change from the business.

Example: Upskilling the Board of a UK based banking group

Over 2018, we ran regular upskilling workshops for relevant sub committees of the bank's Board. These conversations advanced the understanding of the underlying environmental challenges, the implications for the UK economy, shifts in key sectors, and offered peer benchmarking. These face-to-face engagements were supported with analysis of what leadership would look like for each division so that executives could bring forward an ambitious strategy on sustainability; a strategy which the Board fully approved. 

Embedding sustainability Embedding sustainability into decision-making

We enable individuals to include sustainability within their decisions by:

  • Raising awareness and understanding amongst their staff.
  • Building alignment at scale across the organisation.
  • Equipping staff with the knowledge, skills and practice to identify the implications of sustainability on their decisions.

Example: Aligning strategy and sustainability within an specialist fund management company

CISL delivered a customised education programme to raise awareness of sustainability among investment teams and equip them with insights – including into client needs and expectations – to lead and support strategic and operational excellence for long-term value creation.

Example: Informing strategy and educating clients of several development banks

We regularly run education courses for decision-makers in development banks and multi-lateral organisations. For instance, we worked with the African Development Bank to deepen understanding of climate change and its implications across the continent. We focused on developing the skills and confidence of participants to communicate with clients and find ways to co-develop new responses across the continent.

Example: Building a foundation for sustainable practices

We have been working with an international bank to develop an exclusive online course for up to 140,000 employees. Drawing on the latest thinking in online learning, this course combines key sustainability trends and insights from the bank’s research team to enable individuals to analyse the commercial consequences of sustainability and develop a personal response. 

Innovation for sustainability Innovation for sustainability

We engage decision-makers from key functions, technical staff, and client-facing managers from across the organisation seeking to innovate and create:

  • New products and services
  • New opportunities for value creation
  • New tools and methodologies for understanding, measuring and reporting risk and impact

Example: Developing and scaling new products and client strategies with a global banking group

We work with a network of ‘impact pioneers’ and senior relationship managers to deliver a series of six-month, modular programmes. These programmes build individual agency and the collective capacity to develop positive impact products and services, including catalysing and facilitating new propositions. Several propositions have been successfully pitched to the Executive Committee and will be rolled out across the group.

Capacity building Capacity building

We work with client relationship managers to:

  • Better anticipate their client’s needs and expectations.
  • Find ways to engage, educate and influence their clients.
  • Create opportunities for co-creation of solutions.
  • Advance client engagement strategies.

Example: Supporting pioneering work on sustainability with a major commercial bank

As part of the bank’s Sustainable Business Programme, we ran a series of workshops for 700 staff to provide them with the insight, confidence and motivation to engage fellow colleagues and clients on sustainability-related risks and opportunities. This ‘client first’ approach aims to strengthen the bank’s competitive position and enable them, with their clients, to support the transition to a low carbon economy.

Example: Educating and engaging influential clients of a global bank

Each year, we run an annual three-day course for clients of a private bank. This engagement enables key clients to understand the commercial implications of the changing global context, while exploring ways for the bank to co-develop products which have positive environment, social and commercial outcomes.


 Learn more about the work of the Centre for Sustainable Finance

Finance logo side bar