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2018 World Green Economy Report: Inspiring innovations in business, finance and policy

October 2018 – The World Green Economy commissioned a report from the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) on inspiring innovations in business, policy and finance to illustrate the diversity and depth of innovation that is already underway towards a green economy, and to highlight opportunities and priorities for action.

Read the report 2018 World Green Economy Report


Shifting to a green economy will require more than marginal improvements to the innovations that underpin our economy – including technologies; products, service and business models; management practices; collaborative initiatives; and, rules and regulations.

This report focuses on select best practices and innovative solutions in business, finance and policy, with examples to inform and inspire CEOs, investment and government leaders.

The report defines a ‘green economy’ as an “economic system that is low carbon, climate-resilient, resource-efficient and socially-inclusive”. As such, a green economy helps address today’s pressing priorities while giving direction for tomorrow’s success.

From central bankers to defence analysts, there is agreement that a deteriorating climate and natural environment threatens our security and prosperity. At the same time, businesses can grow revenues, reduce costs and risk; countries and cities can develop jobs now in the industries of the future. Those who fail to act now are likely to miss out. 


This report identifies a number of actions that can be taken now:



Actions for business

  • Align organisational purpose, strategy and business models.
  • Set evidence-based targets, measure and be transparent.
  • Embed in operational practices and decisions.



Actions for finance

  • Ensure capital acts for the long term.
  • Price capital according to the true costs of business activities.
  • Innovate financial structures to better serve sustainable business.



Actions for government

  • Measure the right things, set the right targets.
  • Use fiscal policy to correct externalities.
  • Drive socially useful innovation. 


Citing this report

Please refer to this report as: University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL). (2018, October). The World Green Economy Report; inspiring innovations in business, finance and policy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership.

Learn more about CISL’s work with organisations in the Middle East.

Published: October 2018

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This report was developed and chaired by Aris Vrettos, Programme Director at CISL and authored by David Bent, an advisor, researcher and entrepreneur. It was supported by an editorial team of Eliot Whittington, Lucy Bigam, James Cole, Thomas Vergunst and Alice Spencer, all at CISL, during 2017. In particular the editorial team would like to thank the report’s Advisory Panel for their significant contributions and advice in developing the report. We would also like to thank the World Green Economy Organization and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for their strategic guidance and substantial support.


The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not represent an official position of their companies, CISL, the wider University of Cambridge or clients.