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Blue chips partner with University of Cambridge to fund new breakthrough research on global sustainability challenges

last modified Jul 11, 2018 08:52 AM
11 July 2018 – The Prince of Wales Global Sustainability Fellowship Programme represents a multi-million pound commitment from the private sector to accelerate progress on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) has announced a major new partnership with leading companies today, launching The Prince of Wales Global Sustainability Fellowship Programme to attract academics from around the world with the support of leading companies and philanthropic
individuals
to identify breakthrough solutions to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

In a unique model for the University, Prince of Wales Global Sustainability Fellows will be appointed to undertake three-year studies to mobilise global evidence on the world’s most pressing challenges with a view to enabling companies and policymakers to play a more catalytic role in building a sustainable economy. 

The founding companies and individuals who will sponsor the Fellowship Programme include: Anglian Water, Asda, AstraZeneca, The Equal Opportunities Foundation, Heathrow Airport Holdings, Paul and Michelle Gilding (individuals), Sainsbury’s, Sappi and Unilever

As a tribute to his 70th birthday year, and in recognition of his lifetime’s dedication to environmental issues, the Fellowship Programme is named in honour of CISL’s Patron The Prince of Wales. 

This effort is even more urgent given the UN’s announcement last week that progress on the SDGs has been slow and not on track to reach its 2030 targets. 

Professor Stephen Toope, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, said:

"Universities contribute to society through the creation of new knowledge and the development of new skills. It is our aspiration to do this in ways that are relevant and purposeful.

The Prince of Wales Global Sustainability Fellowship Programme, hosted by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, will help us to do just that by allowing academics to engage productively with business, government and financial institutions for society’s benefit – both in the UK and globally." 

Examples of the issues to be tackled in The Prince of Wales Global Sustainability Fellowship Programme include: 

Supporting good health and wellbeing (SDG3):

Supported by AstraZeneca, the research would focus on how the world health systems can deliver higher standards of care to a growing population characterised by an older demographic and high expectations. The burden on health systems has increased as a result of diet and lifestyle choices and an overall rise in non-communicable disease in almost all parts of the world. In this context health systems rarely have the resources to invest in preventing ill health, focused as they are on dealing with acute healthcare priorities which feel impossible from an individual, social and political perspective to ignore.  

Reshaping the future of industry (SDG9):

Supported by SAPPI, the Prince of Wales Global Sustainability Fellow will investigate how trends of innovation and sustainability will come together to reshape the future of industry – looking at the paper and pulp industry as an initial example and examining drivers including the rise of artificial intelligence and the need to bring carbon emissions to net zero. 

CISL, a 30-year old Institute with 80 staff and a network of 8,000 alumni and 250 companies, will host the Fellowship Programme alongside its existing industry collaborations and executive education programmes to foster an exchange of knowledge and ideas. 

Dame Polly Courtice, DBE, LVO, Director of CISL, a department of the University of Cambridge, said:

"The Prince of Wales Global Sustainability Fellowship Programme will create a rich intellectual space for collaboration between researchers and industry as we seek breakthrough ideas and leadership actions to towards meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals." 

The SDGs were launched in 2015 to provide a global framework for development with 17 Goals to be achieved by 2030, such as ending poverty, tackling inequality and climate change. Governments have cited the critical role of the private sector in delivering the Goals. 

Paul Polman, Chief Executive Officer, Unilever (one of the supporting companies) said:

"We need to work with many others including in academia, to push forward the boundaries of knowledge and collaboration, and to design better ways to do business. Unilever is therefore pleased to be a founding supporter of The Prince of Wales Global Sustainability Fellowship Programme at the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership." 

Mike Coupe, Group Chief Executive, Sainsbury’s (one of the supporting companies), said:

"Sainsbury’s are proud to be founding supporters of this Fellowship Programme and to have the opportunity to assess the evidence and potential for our business to play a more active and positive role in the communities we serve and source from." 

Katarina Ageborg, Executive Vice-President, Sustainability and Chief Compliance Officer, AstraZeneca (one of the supporting companies), said: 

"AstraZeneca is proud to be part of The Prince of Wales Global Sustainability Fellowship Programme, supporting research to positively impact SDG 3: Good health and wellbeing. By supporting a research Fellow to review the academic evidence for non-communicable disease prevention, we look forward to understanding and sharing more about the policies, practices and innovations necessary to deliver the economic and human benefits of sustainable health." 

Peter Simpson, Chief Executive Officer, Anglian Water (one of the supporting companies), said:

"Anglian Water is delighted to be a founding supporter of The Prince of Wales Global Sustainability Fellowship Programme. We look forward to collaborating with academia to explore critical questions that can help us to make evidence-based decisions on the use of both social and natural capital." 

Andy Murray, Chief Customer Officer at Asda (one of the supporting companies), said:

“Working with local communities is part of Asda’s DNA, so we’re delighted to be a founding supporter of The Prince of Wales Global Sustainability Fellowship Programme and its work investigating the role businesses can play in ensuring a strong, sustainable future that benefits all parts of society.”

Lise Kingo, CEO & Executive Director, United Nations Global Compact, said: 

"Meeting the UN SDGs will require the biggest transformation the world has ever faced and it will take all stakeholders to pull it off: governments, the private sector, civil society and academia.

The Prince of Wales Global Sustainability Fellowship Programme will provide a critical meeting point for the exchange of ideas in the development of solutions, and the evidence base for the urgent action that is required."


About The Prince of Wales Global Sustainability Fellowship Programme

The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) is establishing a new Global Sustainability Fellowship Programme to research critical global challenges. 

The Programme is being established in the name of CISL’s Patron, HRH The Prince of Wales.

The Fellowship Programme will help to mobilise global evidence on challenges such as inequality, nutrition, environmental protection with a view to enabling companies and policymakers to play a more catalytic role in building a sustainable economy. 

The ambition is to foster new thinking by cutting across conventional boundaries, leading to practical insights, tools and ideas for executives to carry into their organisations. 

Working in close association with academic departments and Cambridge colleges, the Fellowship Programme will attract outstanding candidates to undertake interdisciplinary research into cross-cutting themes critical to the delivery of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

Fellows will be appointed for 3–5 years by an independent Research Oversight Committee (ROC) comprising members of CISL’s Board of senior professors across the six Schools of the University, drawing on co-opted expertise where necessary. 

Confirmed research topic areas, for the initial Fellows are:

Social & environmental accounting (supported by Anglian Water) 

A Prince of Wales Global Sustainability Fellow will explore the potential of, and develop a standardised measurement framework for, natural and social capital in order to make informed decisions as to how limited resources are spent. 

Investing in sustainable communities (supported by Asda)

A Prince of Wales Global Sustainability Fellow will investigate what it means to be a good corporate citizen and the role of business in local communities across the UK, with the ambition of developing strategies for resilience that benefit employees and customers, and society as a whole.

Sustainable health (supported by AstraZeneca) 

A Prince of Wales Global Sustainability Fellow will review the academic evidence for preventative, sustainable health and explore the policies, practices and innovations necessary to deliver economic and healthcare benefits in a set of case study challenges. 

Radical innovation and disruption (supported by Paul and Michelle Gilding) 

A Prince of Wales Global Sustainability Fellow will explore the implications of innovation and disruption associated with the transition to a sustainable economy, for incumbent businesses, investors and policymakers.

The role of responsible business in the community (supported by Sainsbury’s)

A Prince of Wales Global Sustainability Fellow will assess the evidence and potential for business to play a more active and positive role in the communities in which they operate and serve. 

Industrial transformation (supported by SAPPI) 

A Prince of Wales Global Sustainability Fellow will investigate how trends of innovation and sustainability will come together to reshape the future of industry – looking at the paper and pulp industry as an initial example and examining drivers including the rise of artificial intelligence and the need to bring carbon emissions to net zero. 

Inclusive growth (supported by The Equal Opportunities Foundation)

A Prince of Wales Global Sustainability Fellow will research the potential of China’s Belt and Road, and Greater Bay Initiative, to promote the transition to sustainable economies for all countries and regions involved. The research will investigate ways to address social exclusion, unequal development, and rural poverty through the effective use of financial instruments including ‘fintech’ and artificial intelligence within the wider policy and strategy framework.

Pathways to a circular economy (supported by Unilever) 

A Prince of Wales Global Sustainability Fellow will investigate the potential of a circular economy to mitigate the business risks associated with ‘linear’ models of production and consumption and generate new business opportunities. In doing so it will also explore the structural factors that can help or hinder a transition to a more circular economy and the likely impacts on society of that transition.

Read more about The Prince of Wales Global Sustainability Fellowship Programme.

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Adele Wiliams