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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

What we do

We are working with organisations in different ways to help them understand and implement effective nature-based solutions . Together our work is starting to provide a powerful, practical evidence-based for all sectors including policy makers and businesses. Through our work we aim to inspire others towards cultivating a strategic-risk appetite as a necessary precursor to becoming nature-positive.

Accelerating nature-based solutions

Financing the nature recovery, enhancing climate resilience & water security and futureproofing are clear imperatives for business, government and finance. However, developing nature-based solutions requires corporates to overcome the uncertain and the unknown. It's become clear that to accelerate nature base solutions we need to collectively:

  1. Mobilise the private sector investment more impactfully
  2. Maximise the synergy between policy approaches towards an outcomes-based approach
  3. Unify action between all land users towards a cross-sector approach 

Our work

We are proud of our research project Investigating the barriers to corporate involvement in nature-based solutions, funded by WMB which aims to better understand the barriers to transform business models and practices including nature-based solutions. CISL’s Business & Nature team is helping to build a better understanding of how to remove internal stumbling blocks that prevent or slow company readiness to invest in nature-based solutions (NbS). We wish to work with a range of businesses to explore these internal barriers and possible solutions.

Our diagnostic tool, Decision making in a nature-positive world, aims to advance organisational understanding of nature-based solutions projects and accelerate their adoption and implementation within companies.  

Policy advocacy and influence

We are working with business and government to build resilience e.g. CISL’s Corporate Leaders Group, Preparing for the storm: The role of UK business and government in improving UK resilience to climate change in the UK , explores how leading UK businesses are already increasing community resilience through climate adaptation strategies and action & identifies how policy can be used to support acceleration in the race to resilience.

CISL is also working to catalyse solutions underpinned by lessons from our practical experience on the ground with partners. e.g. In May 2018 CISL convened the Water Summit where His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales launched a Catchment Management Declaration. Since then, over 110 organisations have signed up to the Declaration’s six principles, forming the Catchment Leadership Network convened by CISL, with an active group of Advisory members. This aims to drive a step change in the level of activity on collective catchment management by:

  • supporting strategic business engagement in catchment management;
  • identifying and addressing barriers, gaps and enablers that will catalyse a sustainable model for catchment management in the UK and Ireland;
  • strengthening institutional capacities and enablers, including financial mechanisms and governance approaches to engage in catchment management;
  • capturing, learning from and applying best practice; and
  • facilitating and showcasing the delivery of exemplar cross-sector catchment management schemes and partnerships.

Four years after The Catchment Management Declaration was launched by HRH The Prince of Wales, two pilot nature-based solutions projects have brought together farmers, businesses, local authorities, government departments and agencies and NGOs to deliver scalable solutions to reduce land, habitat and water degradation and flood risk. We are proud of our these two new regenerative nature project models, the East of England Landscape Enterprise Network and Poole Harbour Nutrient Management Scheme, offering blueprints for land management supporting a range of environment improvements through more sustainable agriculture:

  1. Modelling Nature-Positive Land Management: Lessons from the East of England Landscape Enterprise Network (LENS) 
  2. Modelling Nature-Positive Agriculture: Lessons in farmer-led nutrient management from Poole Harbour

In addition to these projects, we have developed four sector-specific business briefings that detail the challenges and actions needed to implement NbS projects and why they are necessary. The intention of these briefs is to encourage companies to reconsider their relationship with nature and to explore how they could get involved in similar projects.


Nature-based solutions hub

Nature-Positive hub