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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)


Sustainability Horizons is CISL’s monthly scan of issues and evidence coming into view, but which may not yet feature in the mainstream sustainability debate. This is not a prediction of the future, but a way of helping practitioners and policymakers to get early notice of new ideas, trends or evidence, to inform their own view of what might or should happen as a result.

Find out more about our own work in developing new ideas and approaches that have the potential to deliver transformational change and rewire the economy.


Latest review

Reforestation and forest protection

8 September 2020

August 2020: Covid-19 has led to a spike in illegal forest activities resulting in increased forest degradation and deforestation, particularly in the Amazon and Congo basin. Increasing forest restoration and forest protection efforts that focus on forest intactness and biodiversity presence could support the sustainable management of forests with high ecological value.

Carbon footprints and product pricing

8 September 2020

August 2020: Companies aiming to decrease their carbon footprint often face challenges when demand for ‘green’ products increases as rising sales often lead to increased carbon footprints of the company. Dynamic pricing based on carbon footprints combined with strategic marketing campaign may help close the carbon footprint gap.

Shifting India’s sugar industry from food to biofuels

8 September 2020

August 2020: Shifting the use and production of sugar in India from food to feedstock for biofuels could decrease rising numbers of micronutrient deficiencies in India and incentivise the cultivation of more nutritious crops. It could further reduce pressure on India’s natural resources and support the decarbonisation of India’s transport sector.

Disposal of PPE

8 September 2020

August 2020: Due to the pandemic, the use and disposal of single use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has risen to unprecedented levels. It poses significant risks to environment and human health and could intensify pollution from plastics. New innovative methods for reusing disposed PPE will be needed in conjunction with increased waste management capacities.

Just transition to decarbonised energy

8 September 2020

August 2020: the energy sector should focus on local labour market conditions, available technology knowledge, geographic resources, and social impact in addition to its financial viability. Without integrating the social and economic dimension of energy transitions, such strategies are at risk of compounding existing inequalities.

Loss of Arctic sea ice

8 September 2020

August 2020: Melt ponds in the Arctic are causing sea ice to melt at an accelerated rate, suggesting that Arctic summers will be ice free by 2035. This may lead to sea level rises, changes in ocean currents and global weather patterns that can lead to floods, storms, costal erosion, and infrastructure destruction.

Plastic pollution in oceans

8 September 2020

August 2020: Approximately 200 million tonnes of plastic waste entered the Atlantic Ocean in 1950-2015. The volume of plastic waste is projected to triple in the next 20 years, increasing the need for more stringent policies to reduce the amount of plastic in use and significantly expand current waste management capacities.

UK overseas emissions

14 May 2020

April 2020: finds that nearly half of UK’s carbon footprint in 2016 originated from ‘hidden emissions’. Hidden emissions refer to carbon released during manufacturing of goods in the country of origin. WWF calls for carbon adjustments for imported goods to ensure UK’s effective carbon neutrality by 2050.

Financial disclosure of meat

14 May 2020

April 2020: Most meat companies have limited disclosure of climate-related risks and show limited progress in developing climate risk mitigation or adaptation strategies. A new analysis tool for the meat industry aims to support the financial disclosure of climate risks and opportunities for meat companies in a 2oC warming scenario.

Shared ecosystem services

14 May 2020

April 2020: describes global or interregional ecosystem service flows between countries or regions. Understanding shared ecosystem services and global value flows could support the transition to more sustainable resource management practices and changed production and consumption patterns.


Adele Wiliams

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The views expressed in these external research papers are those of the authors and do not represent an official position of CISL, the University of Cambridge, or any of its individual business partners or clients.