skip to content

Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)


We work with leaders and companies in many different ways to build the knowledge, capability and collective action to lead transformational change for a safe and stable climate. 



Low carbonAn unprecedented economic transformation will be required to deliver a prosperous, resilient and zero carbon economy and to maintain a safe and stable climate for humanity.  Businesses from every sector, as well as policy makers and financial institutions, all have a role to play as policies, technologies and investments are together geared to deliver a socially inclusive transformation, at pace and scale. Our Rewiring the Economy plan sets out ten collaborative tasks for business, government and finance leaders, to guide this transformation.   

The scale of the climate challenge was recently emphasised by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on 1.5 degrees, which catalogued the real environmental damage, human suffering and increased economic costs that would arise if we allow global average temperature rises to exceed that level. The report made it clear that the world needs to reach ‘net zero’ emissions as soon as possible to stop contributing to climate change. The IPCC is an intergovernmental body through which, at the request of governments, thousands of experts review the latest science and analysis to produce comprehensive assessments of what the body of academic opinion indicates. IPCC reports clearly indicate the levels of consensus and certainty around each finding.

Find out how we can help your organisation lead the way towards a net zero future.


Aiming for zero

Sustainability leadershipPrompted by the Paris Agreement and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at a faster pace, governments across the world are reviewing their initial ambitions, and looking at what is required to deliver on the goal of ‘net zero’ emissions.

Achieving this goal has stimulated much debate, at national, European and international levels, on what this transition means for business across different sectors, for people and for leadership.

Read about how companies are preparing for a net zero future.

Senior thought leaders in our Network discuss what they believe is required to achieve a net zero future by 2050

Polly CourticeDame Polly Courtice, DBE, LVO, Emeritus Director and Senior Ambassador, CISL.

The Climate Breakthrough


Tony Juniper 160

Tony Juniper, Executive Director for Advocacy and Campaigns, WWF-UK and CISL Fellow:

 Only an integrated approach to the global climate and conservation crises will be sufficient.

Paul Gilding 160

Paul Gilding, environmental author and CISL Fellow: 

Will oil and gas companies survive action on climate change?


Dylan Tanner 160

Dylan Tanner, Executive Director and Co-Founder of  InfluenceMap: 

How can companies use their lobbying to drive a net zero future? 

Karl Henrik SundstromKarl-Henrik Sundström, CEO of Stora Enso:

How climate action is transforming the very fabric of business


Frank van der VloedFrank van der Vloed, President, Signify Europe

Carbon neutrality by 2050 makes sense.


Martin PorterMartin Porter, Executive Chair, CISL Brussels

Climate progress is key to reinvigorate European project


Alice Garton 160

Alice Garton, Senior Lawyer and Head of Climate at ClientEarth: 

Climate change liability risk vastly underestimated by businesses.

These articles do not necessarily represent the views of, or endorsement by, the Institute or the wider University of Cambridge.


Our work with companies and leaders to drive change towards a net zero future

Building individuals' leadership capacity

PersonWe build the leadership capacity of individuals and help them to address sustainability challenges such as climate change. We equip board directors, senior executives, sustainability practitioners and managers across organisations with the with the knowledge and capability to lead change within and beyond their organisations to accelerate progress towards a sustainable, zero carbon economy. Our Network of over 9,000 alumni and contributors are active in driving change in business, the public sector and civil society in every industry and on every continent.

Developing the capability of organisations and regions

GlobeWe develop the capability of organisations and regions to lead the transition to a zero carbon economy through our customised programmes and advisory work. We help organisations to identify material risks and opportunities – including opportunities to shape systemic change, to develop strategies that align sustainability and commercial performance, and to build and inspire leadership capability to drive transformational change across complex systems.

Facilitating collaboration and dialogue

PeopleWe facilitate collaboration and dialogue across conventional boundaries to help unlock the economic change required to achieve the goals of critical international agreements such as the Paris Climate Agreement and UN Sustainable Development Goals. By bringing together a core set of leadership groups such as CISL's Corporate Leaders Groups and the Green Growth Partnership we unite businesses, policymakers and academic expertise to catalyse innovation and solutions to tackle climate change. We also work with over 50 financial companies across finance leadership groups, such as ClimateWise, the Banking Environment Initiative and the Investment Leaders Group, to co-produce research and develop financing solutions to build a sustainable economy. One of our projects, Bank 2030, is working on developing a vision for the banking sector in the low carbon economy.

Multidisciplinary research

Research and thought leadershipOur work is underpinned by multidisciplinary research and grounded in practitioner insights from exceptional people from business, policy, civil society and academia. Our work explores fundamental research questions arising from real-world problems faced by practitioners, such as climate change. The Prince of Wales Global Sustainability Fellowship Programme will help to mobilise global evidence on challenges such as climate change, with a view to enabling companies and policymakers to play a catalytic role in building a sustainable economy. Our three Centres for business, government and finance apply CISL’s expertise in interdisciplinerary research, education, convening and small business acceleration to develop leadership and sustainability solutions for our clients.


Research and resources 

Resources for business


Aiming for zero

Selection of materials from the Corporate Leaders Groups including CEO videos, a cross sectoral business position statement and a briefing to help companies engage more meaningfully in the net zero debate.

Industrial transformation  

Selection of materials including a report setting out multiple possible pathways for the EU to achieve the full decarbonisation of its heavy industries by 2050, a business change case study from Sky and a pathway for eliminating plastic waste from the UK bottle and soft drink supply chain.

Leadership resources

Selection of materials on the leadership needed for a sustainable economy including CISL’s leadership framework and reflections from sustainability leaders on delivering the outcomes of the SDGs

Resources for the finance sector 


Risk and resilience

Selection of materials to help the finance industry address how to integrate environmental scenario analysis into their decision making  including physical and transition risk frameworks.

Positive impact

Materials to help enable investors achieve positive impact including an open-source framework which investors can use as proxies for their progress towards the SDGs.

Digital finance innovation

Materials to help the industry harness the digital revolution and innovation including a multi sector collaboration project, Trado, which delivered a new model to enhance the sustainability of global supply chains.

Resources for policymakers

Policy Engagement

Aiming for zero

Thought leadership to help policy makers take action to deliver a prosperous, innovative climate neutral economy includes a knowledge hub for EU decision makers and materials which showcase how businesses are planning for a net zero future.

Industrial transformation  

Selection of materials including a briefing for policy makers setting out pathways for the EU to achieve the full decarbonisation of its heavy industries by 2050, a business change case study from Sky and a pathway for eliminating plastic waste from the UK bottle and soft drink supply chain.

Green Growth Partnership

Further resources from a forum which promotes a positive exchange between EU governments and businesses to develop a climate neutral Europe.