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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

Transformational leadership

How can leaders develop a sustainable business in 2023?

How can leaders embrace the complexity and magnitude of this responsibility, by producing the returns required in the short term and delivering sustainable solutions for the long term?

Today’s approaches to leadership development are simply not delivering the leadership capabilities required for long-term business success. Our work shows that some leading organisations are successfully rethinking their leadership development strategy to meet the changing context, but many organisations are yet to recognise the scale of change required.

Organisations need a new form of leadership development which helps them to reframe their purpose, strategy, culture – even their fundamental approach to value creation.


CISL Insights for Leaders

Hear from global professionals tackling real-world sustainability challenges across business, policy and finance. CISL Conversations brings you thought leadership from across industries, sectors, and continents. We explore best practices, systemic risks, strategic insights, and the latest research.


Thought Leadership and Reports

Our practitioner-based sustainability reports and briefings highlight some of the best examples of sustainability leadership that have emerged over the past few years.

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Leadership case studies and impact stories

Our case studies highlight examples of sustainability leadership that have emerged over the past few years and explore new ideas and approaches that have the potential to deliver transformational change.

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CISL Conversations

Hear from global professionals tackling real-world sustainability challenges across business, policy and finance.

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Leadership Webinars 

The Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) hosted a series of ‘Advancing Leadership’ webinars between March and May 2020

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Alumni stories


"With the credentials of CISL, this could well be the most successfully designed programme in the world that delivers sustainability to business management in a nutshell."

Lu-Ann Ong, Singapore Co-founder and Managing Partner, Independent Consultants 1920 LLP

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"The course gave me a firm foundation on sustainability, equipped me with up-to-date trends on how it is practised across the globe, and gave me the chance to meet passionate practitioners of sustainability and be inspired by the work they do."

Harris Albert Guevarra, Philippines President and CEO, Drink

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Short online courses in leadership

Leading Sustainability: High Impact Leadership

For professionals seeking to build skills in values driven, high impact leadership.

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Communicating for Influence and Impact

For professionals seeking to build the communication skills to achieve meaningful change.

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Women Leading Change: Shaping
Our Future

For current and aspiring leaders who are ready to lead change in organisations and society through systemic transformation.

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Watch a recording of the Women Leading Change webinar


How we work with you

Developing the right leadership skills across an organisation is not easy, but a growing body of work indicates that organisations that cultivate learning and innovation to develop these capabilities are better able to anticipate and mitigate risk and enhance productivity. More importantly, they are better able to shape their own futures and seize the opportunities inherent in aligning their activities with society’s needs and priorities. 

 Find out more about how we support orgainsations.

Our leadership programmes work with organisations and individuals to allow them to thrive in the changing business context and to support them in becoming the leaders that we need to transform our economies and deliver benefits to people, and protect our nature and climate. You can find more about CISL's position on leadership here.


Leadership development

We build the leadership capacity of individuals across disciplines to catalyse and accelerate change to deliver value within and beyond their own context.

Executive education for leaders 

Online programmes

Master's-level graduate courses

Transforming organisations 

We challenge and support organisations to raise ambition and embed net zero across their organisations. 

Customised Leadership Development


Executive coaching

We coach leaders to understand and deliver sustainable impact
at an individual, team, organisational and systemic level.

Enquiries regarding our coaching offer
can be submitted here.

Leadership and Purpose

We help leaders to respond to the most material risks to 'business as usual', to identify new opportunities for sustainable value creation , and to align their fundamental purpose and strategy with the transition to a sustainable economy. 

Organisational purpose and strategy development

Report: Leading with a sustainable purpose

Report: Unleashing the sustainable


Transforming policy & markets

We help to enable leadership across broader economic and market transitions by influencing policy, regulation, standards and opinion through our Centres:

Centre for Sustainable Finance

Accelerating solutions

We foster new enterprises, business models, technologies, products and services that promote a sustainable future.

Accelerator programmes and events

Canopy Incubator 

Step change innovation



Resources and research

Connecting with the entrepreneurial ecosystem in China

29 June 2023 - CISL’s Canopy team ran a series of collaborative workshops and meetings in Beijing, Shanghai, Guanzhou and Hong Kong to map and engage local and international stakeholders supporting sustainability innovation in China. The events were part of CISL’s Centre for Sino UK Sustainability Innovation.

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Corporate activism when the stakes are high

26 April 2023 - How traditional organisations can navigate the space of corporate activism, by Aileen Noonan, Dina Khalifa and Jennifer Howard-Grenville.

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Board Leadership - Why the diversity of your board matters so much

16 March 2023 - Diversity is critical for board leadership. This is a central plank of our point of view. But what sort of diversity? In this fourth in a series of blogs examining questions of board leadership and governance, Prof Richard Calland tries to get under the bonnet of a difficult and delicate subject.

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Leadership for sustainability: Where is the hope?

15 September 2015

September 2015 – As another academic year commences, Dr Louise Drake, Deputy Course Director for the Master’s in Sustainability Leadership, reflects on the challenges and rewards of learning to be a sustainability leader.

Rewiring the Economy: Ten tasks, ten years

23 June 2015

July 2015, Updated November 2017 – Rewiring the Economy is CISL’s ten-year plan to lay the foundations for a sustainable economy. It is built on ten interconnected tasks, delivered by leaders across business, government and finance. Rewiring shows how these tasks can be tackled co-operatively to build an economy that encourages sustainable business practices, delivering the social and environmental progress demanded by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Should investment in Africa consider sustainability?

11 May 2015

August 2015 – A comparison between South African and Chinese business experiences. This exploratory working paper considers how foreign investment by Chinese companies could be used to promote strategic leadership around sustainability in South Africa.

UK political leaders show climate leadership

17 February 2015

UK political leaders show climate leadership Eliot Whittington 18 February 2015 This Valentine’s Day the main political leaders in the UK took a break from electioneering to ' show the love ' and sign a joint statement reaffirming their commitment to work across political dividing lines to fight...

Sustainability: The Leadership Challenge

12 January 2015

November 2014 – How do you solve a problem like climate change? There is no easy answer, and while business leaders are increasingly recognising the gravity of the problem, they often find themselves powerless to make a real impact beyond their own organisations. Here Mike Peirce explores the need for wider cross-sectoral collaboration, and the role that education can play.

Advisory Services 

Find out how we help organisations build long-term resilience, gain competitive advantage and identify new opportunities
for value creation aligned with a transition to a sustainable economy.

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The Future of Boards

Find out how we are working with boards to build transformational leadership.

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Global Leadership in the Asian Century

In a fast-changing world that is increasingly influenced by Asia, this programme will provide senior leaders and decision makers with insight, understanding, capability and networks to the changing global context, in ways that will shape and enable a sustainable future.

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