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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.



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



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

Integrating Nature: The case for action on nature-related financial risks

5 April 2022

7 April 2022 – The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) in collaboration with banks and investment managers has detailed the case for integrating nature-related risks into financial decisions. Nature loss poses highly material financial risks If nature is not...

The coming deluge: Scenario analysis for underwriting in a changing climate

23 March 2022

28 March 2022 – ClimateWise members unpack the implications of scenario analysis for underwriting with UK flood example.

Nature-related financial risks

24 January 2022

What are nature-related financial risks? Leading companies recognise that a prosperous business relies upon nature and the ecosystem services it provides. They also recognise that the ‘E’ in ‘ESG’ is about protecting our biodiversity and natural capital, as well as our climate, and that the two are...

How soil degradation amplified financial vulnerability – Nature-related financial risk use case

22 January 2022

January 2022 – The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) in collaboration with Robeco has published the first nature-related financial risk use case, showcasing how the vulnerability of degraded soil extreme weather can deliver a blow to asset value.

The ClimateWise Principles Independent Review for 2021

14 January 2022

20 January 2022 – The ClimateWise Principles Independent Review for 2021 sees scores continue to increase across the membership.

Leadership Strategies for Client Engagement: Advancing climate-related assessment

10 January 2022

13 January 2022 – Building on work by the Banking Environment Initiative, CISL has published recommendations for advancing climate-related assessments that enhance client engagement strategies for financial institutions.

Climate Tango: Principles for integrating physical and transition climate-risk assessment with sectoral examples

10 January 2022

13 January 2022 – The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership’s (CISL) ClimateWise leads paper on integrating climate-related risk assessment.

Centre for Sustainable Finance collaborates with UNEP FI on enhanced climate risk assessment frameworks and leadership strategies for client engagement

10 January 2022

13 January 2022 - CISL's Centre for Sustainable Finance, together with the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative, publishes two reports aiming to assist financial insitutions to implement the TCFD framework, building on projects exploring climate risk assessment frameworks and leadership strategies for client engagement.

Understanding Corporates’ Transitions to Net Zero: Industry survey on net zero transition progress and challenges

20 December 2021

23 December 2021 – The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) has published a business briefing for understanding corporates’ transitions to net zero based on a quantitative industry survey.

Insurance industry must align to Paris Agreement, starting now

8 December 2021

20 December 2021 - Bronwyn Clare, Senior Programme Manager for ClimateWise at CISL, argues that partnership between an insurer and their clients on net zero aligned underwriting is critical to a smooth net zero transition for both.

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Sustainable Finance 8-week online course

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

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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

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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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