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The Future in Practice: The State of Sustainability Leadership

December 2012 – The State of Sustainability Leadership is the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)’s annual collection of ideas and research into how business and policy leaders are tackling the challenges of the 21st century.

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Professor Chris Gilligan: A ‘doubly-green’ revolution

December 2012 – According to the latest figures by the UN Food & Agricultural Organisation, 13 per cent of the world’s population is undernourished, including 33 per cent of the population of the least developed countries. Furthermore, the world faces a potential food crisis in coming decades as the population grows inexorably and as climate-related changes intensify pressures on food production. Given that the most productive land is already being used around the globe, simply increasing crop production is not the answer.

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Julian Allwood: Sustainable Materials With Both Eyes Open

December 2012 – The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that global greenhouse gas reductions of 50–85 per cent will be needed by 2050 to avoid dangerous climate change, representing a radical shift away from today’s fossil-fuel-derived economy. This begs the question: is such a reduction achievable, and if so, how? This is one of the key challenges tackled through the research of Dr Julian Allwood and his Low Carbon Materials Processing Group (LCMPG) at the University of Cambridge.

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Dr Bhaskar Vira: The political economy of ecosystem services

December 2012 – The past decade has seen a growing interest in ecosystem services, one of the focus areas of Dr Bhaskar Vira and his colleagues at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Geography. Ecosystems services have been defined by landmark research projects like the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) as “the benefits people obtain from ecosystems” and “the direct and indirect contributions of ecosystems to human wellbeing”.

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José Lopez: Keeping nature’s balance sheet in balance

December 2012 – Sustainable development – providing sufficient material and spiritual well-being to enable a good life for all of humankind, within the limits imposed by our one planet – is by definition a concept with global reach. This has significant implications for policymakers and the private sector alike, which influence each other.

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Pavan Sukhdev: Can today’s corporations deliver tomorrow’s economy?

December 2012 – As nations entered Rio+20 to negotiate around the theme of a “green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication”, I was left confused. UNEP’s report Towards a Green Economy defined a “green economy” as one which increases well-being and social equity whilst reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. In other words, a green economy must reduce poverty and inequity. So why did the UN feel the need to reiterate this as a tautology in the central theme in the run-up to Rio?

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Jeremy Grantham: Living on a finite planet (where no-one likes to hear bad news)

December 2012 – We’re going through one of those very rare things indeed: a paradigm shift. Having spent the past 200 years with the prices for everything declining, around 2002 this shifted, and the price of almost everything started going up. In 10 years, without much fuss, we’ve given back all the price declines of the previous 100 years. That’s quite a remarkable shift.

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Carlos Fadigas: Business as part of the solution

December 2012 – There are many roles for business in developing sustainability, but the most important is to integrate sustainability principles into business strategy. Sustainability means much more than just worrying about the environmental impacts of business operations – this only represents ‘business as usual’. I prefer the idea of looking for the business opportunities that could arise from the huge challenge of trying to raise living standards for a likely population of 9 billion in 2050, yet remaining within the limits of our planet.

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Catherine Tayleur

 

Dr Cath Tayleur Programme Manager, Natural Capital