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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

Centre for Sustainable Finance

 

A ‘quiet revolution’ is underway in the global financial system as its leaders wrestle with the implications of global sustainability. Expectations from clients and regulators are climbing steadily, causing financial institutions to rethink current operating practices, and adopt longer term, more forward-thinking strategies. This trend is set to continue as sustainability issues translate into ever more substantive risks and opportunities.

Through a unique combination of deep industry collaboration, high-calibre research, and exceptional education programmes, the Centre for Sustainable Finance is helping financial institutions to play a leading role in building a more sustainable economy.

to find out more.

 

Collaboration


Working with over 50 global financial institutions across banking, insurance and investment, we provide the insight needed to challenge current assumptions and lead change.

ClimateWise (global insurance)

ClimateWise comprises leading insurers, reinsurers, brokers and industry service providers who share a commitment to reducing the impact of climate change on society, as well as the insurance industry.

Banking Environment Initiative

Some of the world’s largest banks working to lead their industry in directing capital towards environmentally and socially sustainable economic development.

Leading investment managers and asset owners with over $9 trillion under management working to help shift the investment chain towards responsible, long-term value creation.

Interaction with policy

The Centre bridges the worlds of business, finance and policymaking in order to enable the transition to a sustainable economy, facilitating stronger mutual understanding between financial institutions, their clients in the real economy and the institutions which govern them. For example, the Centre is academic visitor at the Bank of England helping to support its work in leading the sustainable finance agenda. It has worked with De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) on the financial impact of disruptive energy transition, collaborated with the South African National Treasury and Banco de Mexico on embedding environmental scenarios into financial risk frameworks and was the knowledge partner for the G20 Green Finance Study Group in 2016 and 2017. Finally, as a founding member of the Global Research Alliance for Sustainable Finance and Investment, the Centre is an official research stakeholder for the Network for Greening the Financial System

 

Research


We have a particular reputation for translating high-quality research into practical solutions to advance both policy and market practices.

Risk and resilience

Embedding resilience to environmental risk in routine financing decisions. This includes the Centre’s work with banks and asset managers to identify and assess the financial risks of nature loss.

Positive impact

Enabling investors to achieve positive impact against the Sustainable Development Goals.

Harnessing the digital revolution and financial innovation to direct capital to sustainable business models.

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.

 

Current research

The Centre conducts research on mainstreaming environmental and social scenarios into financial risk analysis; measuring ‘asset stranding’ effects under future technology transitions; understanding the role of the financial system in financing a sustainable, zero carbon economy; science-based measures to quantify non-financial outcomes of investment; innovative financing of sustainable infrastructure; and consumer demand for sustainable investment funds.

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.

 

Zero carbon

 

Circular economy 

 

Protection of nature

 

Inclusive and resilient societies

 

Education and advisory


Financial institutions increasingly recognise the benefits of aligning their commercial strategy with the sustainable economy. Leading organisations, especially banks and insurers, are already seeking new financing opportunities, engaging clients to develop new products, and developing new policies and metrics to understand the implications of sustainability.

Despite this realisation, many senior decision-makers are struggling to respond. Board and executive team members often lack the relevant knowledge about how quickly sustainability issues are changing. Senior client, portfolio and product leaders are often unaware of emerging commercial opportunities from new technologies or the risks associated with supporting traditional industries. Many organisations are struggling to develop clear, long-term positions to finance the transition of key sectors such as transportation, energy and agriculture.

Our education programmes are designed to bring rigour, clarity and confidence for leaders to respond.

Find out how we can help your organisation.

 

Recent sustainable finance publications


Nature-related financial opportunity use case: Debt-for-nature swap supported by credit insurance for marine conservation

29 May 2024

5 June 2024 - CISL’s ClimateWise, in collaboration with MS Amlin, has published one of the first nature-related financial opportunities use cases, showcasing a debt-for-nature swap supported by credit insurance for marine conservation in Ecuador.

Nature-related financial opportunity use case: The role of mangroves, coral reefs and seagrasses in supporting and protecting near-shore fisheries in Bolinao, the Philippines

29 May 2024

5 June 2024 - CISL’s ClimateWise, in collaboration with Howden, the international insurance intermediary group, has published one of the first nature-related financial opportunities use cases, showcasing the role of mangroves, coral reefs and seagrasses in supporting and protecting near-shore fisheries in Bolinao, the Philippines.

Broadening the horizon: How CFOs and Finance Functions can help drive corporate sustainability

31 January 2024

1 February 2024 - A business briefing produced by CISL and Accounting for Sustainability (A4S) examines the implications for CFOs and Finance Functions in supporting their businesses to become aligned with a sustainable future.

Financing Africa’s Low Carbon Transition

29 January 2024

30 January 2024 - A policy briefing by CISL examines how there is a $1.8 trillion gap to fund the transition to low carbon economies in Africa.

Sustainable Finance

26 January 2024

The finance sector has a critical role in supporting our transition to a sustainable future. However, it's widely recognised that today's system does not reward long term thinking. Often, it can actually work against efforts to build a sustainable economy. Through our convening, research, education...

The ClimateWise Principles Independent Review for 2023

5 January 2024

23 January 2024 - The ClimateWise Principles Independent Review for 2023 sees scores continue to increase across the membership, ahead of the introduction of a more ambitious set of Principles for 2024.

Risk sharing for Loss and Damage: Scaling up protection for the Global South

21 November 2023

21 November 2023 - The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) launches a Loss and Damage action plan to scale up protection for the Global South.

Everything, everywhere, all at once: how can private finance be unlocked for nature and climate in the international financial architecture

10 November 2023

13 November 2023 – CISL’s Centre for Sustainable Finance has published a new policy brief that dives deep into how the private sector can scale up finance for both climate and nature.

Bank Action Guide: Towards a just transition for small–medium enterprises (SMEs)

20 October 2023

30 October 2023 - CISL’s Banking Environment Initiative has published a new Bank Action Guide to help banks begin to facilitate a just transition for acutely vulnerable SMEs and assert their role as key partners to communities and civil society, contributing to a more resilient, inclusive and sustainable global economy.

Let’s Discuss Nature with Climate: Engagement Guide

4 October 2023

9 October 2023 – Building on the nature-related finance collaboration between the Banking Environment Initiative (BEI) and Investment Leaders Group (ILG), CISL has published a new Engagement Guide to support the market-wide transformation towards a net-zero and nature-positive economy by evolving the interaction between banks and investment managers and their portfolio clients and investee companies.

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Sustainable Finance 8-week online course

Learn to lead and develop sustainable finance strategies and positive outcomes.

Learn more

Nature-related financial risks

Achieving Zero hub

Nature-Positive hub

Media highlight

Dr Nina Seega and CISL Senior Associate Steve Waygood discuss the connection between investments and the health of the planet with BBC ideas.

CISL's independent research

Strengthening the case for action to build a sustainable economy

Read more

Contact

If you are a potential research partner, funder or could shape and use the Centre’s outputs, please use this contact form to start the conversation.

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