Polly Courtice, founder director of the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), has won the coveted Stanford Bright Award 2015 for her efforts in guiding thousands of business leaders to more sustainable business practices.
The Stanford Bright Award, a $100,000 prize (£65,822), recognises unheralded individuals who have made a significant contribution to global sustainability.
CISL now counts nearly 7,000 business executives as alumni of its executive and graduate programs, and as members of its business-led leadership groups. The institute’s latest effort, called Rewiring the Economy, provides a 10-point, 10-year plan for governments, financial institutions and businesses to work together to build a more sustainable economy.
Polly Courtice comments on her journey over the last 25 years: “After the United Nations’ Earth Summit in 1992, more and more companies were struggling to deal with public pressures to be more accountable for their environmental and social actions and impacts, ranging from human rights to climate change.
“These were complex problems for business to grapple with and very few business leaders really knew how to deal with environmental externalities, or other civil society issues not immediately tied to the bottom line. We helped create some structure around what felt like chaos, and helped executives to develop mores strategic responses.
“CISL has built an inspiring cadre of leaders who are more knowledgeable and confident about the issues, but also who have the kind of courage and determination to do something about it, and the sense of being part of a whole, unstoppable movement towards a better future.”
Polly will officially accept the award and deliver a public lecture at Stanford on 29 September 2015.
Ray Bright, a Stanford Law School alumnus, created the award as a gift on behalf of his late wife, Marcelle, and himself. Mr. Bright died in 2011. “We are very proud to be the stewards of such a generous gift from Ray Bright and to carry on his wishes by shining a light on critical work such as Polly Courtice’s in the hopes of extending its influence,” said M. Elizabeth Magill, the Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean of Stanford Law School.
Read the full interview on the Stanford website here.
* For 800 years, the University of Cambridge has fostered leadership, ideas and innovations that have benefited and transformed societies. The University now has a critical role to play to help the world respond to a singular challenge: how to provide for as many as nine billion people by 2050 within a finite envelope of land, water and natural resources, whilst adapting to a warmer, less predictable climate.
* Within the University, the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) empowers business and policy leaders to make the necessary adjustments to their organisations, industries and economic systems in light of this challenge. By bringing together multidisciplinary researchers with influential business and policy practitioners across the globe, it fosters an exchange of ideas across traditional boundaries to generate new, solutions-oriented thinking.
* A particular strength of CISL is its ability to engage actors across business, finance and government. With deep policy connections across the EU and internationally, dedicated platforms for the banking, investment and insurance industries, and executive development programmes for senior decision-makers, it is well-placed to support leadership in the real and financial economies.