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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

Achieving Zero

The transition to zero is underway. The private sector has a critical role in delivering this transition and there is a growing body of evidence to demonstrate that it makes business sense to act.

Forward looking companies understand this. They are harnessing climate action as driver of innovation, risk management and competitiveness – recognising that setting a course to net zero can provide a powerful guiding light in turbulent times as well as delivering commercial benefits. Yet, there is no blueprint for change and change is not happening fast enough.

The necessary speed and scale of the transition will require unprecedented co-operation and effort from all companies and sectors. It will require transformation towards a new economy that puts people, nature and the climate at the heart of global value creation. 


What we do 

Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) plays a key role working with its partners to accelerate this transition. Through our  foresight, education, convening and innovation we help hundreds of companies and thousands of individuals every year to deliver transformational change and impact for a net zero economy.  


CISL insights


The Dubai hosted 28th annual session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention

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Our position on phasing out fossil fuels.

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Helping businesses align their strategies with net zero.

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Tools, frameworks and thought leadership from the Centre for Sustainable Finance.

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Case studies from startups and SMEs on their net zero journey.

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Thought leadership and knowledge hubs from the Corporate Leaders groups.

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Programmes and courses for business


CISL’s flagship international programme equips leaders with the knowledge, commitment and inspiration to turn sustainability
trends into strategic business decisions.

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Online short course to help business professionals upskill themselves in climate change risk, adaptation measures, and low carbon innovation.

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Cambridge Zero harnesses the full range of the University’s research and policy expertise, developing solutions that work for our lives, our society and our economy. 

Chapter Zero is building a community of non-executive directors and equipping them to lead crucial UK boardroom discussions on the impacts of climate change. 

We Mean Business coalition is a global nonprofit coalition working with the world’s most influential businesses to take action on climate change.




Resources and research

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.

CISL’s Business Transformation Framework Preliminary Diagnostic

12 October 2023

October 2023 – This report introduces a diagnostic tool that sets out 12 enablers presented onto four organisational typologies, distinguished by different levels of alignment to sustainability and purpose, against which businesses can self-assess.

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.

Unleashing the sustainable business

2 October 2023

2 October 2023 – This working paper explores the meaning and influence of organisational culture and proposes some key principles and associated behaviours that may underpin a purpose-driven organisational culture that delivers a sustainable future.

Climate and Nature: A Route to Mutual Acceleration

27 September 2023

28 September 2023 - A new briefing from CISL sets out the rationale for joint action between climate and nature. It offers six critical actions for business, government and financial institutions to transform our societies and economies towards a nature positive future.

Future of Boards

27 September 2023

27 September 2023 - Part 4 – The last in a series of four reports, from Phase 1 of “The Future of Boards” research study by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), in partnership with the global law firm DLA Piper. The report provides both a synthesis of the detailed findings from Reports 1, 2, 3 and a summary of the key facts, and their potential implications for boards. To help boards better understand the landscape and navigate future shifts we have created a set of 20 pivotal questions for boards to use as a tool to facilitate discussion and prepare strategically.

Leadership for a sustainable future

17 July 2023

21 July 2023 - Report presenting the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership’s new Leadership for a Sustainable Future Framework. The framework is focused on developing and expanding leadership capacity and is designed to help individuals and collectives reflect on their own and others’ leadership practice.

Navigating low carbon disruption: Systems thinking and dynamic system drivers in power, road transport and agriculture

14 June 2023

27 June 2023 – A report by the team behind the Prince of Wales Global Sustainability Fellowship in Radical Innovation and Disruption examines how systems thinking can help businesses and other stakeholders characterise, anticipate and influence low carbon market disruption.