Lancaster University breaks new ground in partnership with global business

Published: 1 Jun 2017
Type: News

Lancaster, 1 June 2017: The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and Lancaster University are pleased to announce the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to address the biggest problems in global sustainability. 

The MoU enables deep engagement between the university and some of the world’s largest companies through collaborations on research, education and impact. 

Lancaster University is a top 10 UK university and in the top 1% globally, and has a strong track record in sustainability research, education and outreach.  WBCSD is a global, CEO-led organization of over 200 leading businesses working together to accelerate the transition to a sustainable world.  Its work is focused across four economic systems: Energy, Food and land-use, Cities and mobility, and Redefining Value.

This partnership will be coordinated by the Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business, which was founded by a grant from the Rubin Foundation Charitable Trust – a Foundation run by the owners of Pentland Group plc.

Straddling Lancaster University’s Environment Centre and Lancaster University Management School, the transdisciplinary research centre focuses on macro trends.

Collaboration with WBCSD is already underway in several areas, such as the low carbon economy, global economic risks from Arctic change, sustainable soils and the circular economy.

“At the Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business, our vision is to create a world-class hub for research on sustainability that brings together the best minds in science and business,” said Professor Gail Whiteman, Centre Director. “This MOU sets the stage for co-designed research and business education that has the potential to make significant impact on the world’s social and environment problems. I couldn’t be more delighted.” 

Both parties are committed to educating current and future leaders, to equip them with the knowledge required to create a new ‘business as usual’ approach. For the past two years, Lancaster undergraduate students have worked as session hosts at WBCSD’s closed bi-annual meetings. This included the top-level CEO meeting in Paris in 2015 during COP21, with Mr. Al Gore, former US Vice President, and His Excellency, Ban Ki-moon, in attendance. 

Lancaster University’s undergraduate partnership with WBCSD has been formalized in the MoU. In future, Lancaster students will be able to get course credit for their work with WBCSD, in a unique Bootcamp module at the Lancaster University Management School. In addition, new opportunities are under discussion in relation to Executive Education opportunities– using the expertise from the University in these areas.

Professor Rodney Irwin, Managing Director of Redefining Value & Education at WBCSD and an Honorary Teaching Fellow at the Pentland Centre, said: “Engagement and partnership with leading institutions like Lancaster University is essential to driving change in social and corporate culture. By partnering on research in several of our core systems, and working with tomorrow’s leaders at our global events, this MoU consolidates our relationship.”

Sharing similar values, Lancaster University and WBCSD are both committed to making an impact by creating scalable changes in order to drive the transition to a sustainable world.

Professor Andrew Atherton, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Lancaster University, said: “Lancaster has a long history of research with real world impact in business and environmental sustainability. I am very pleased to see us taking this important next step forward in our partnership with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. The MoU opens the door to exciting new opportunities to develop a global agenda with WBCSD on issues that affect everybody’s lives.”

Mr. Peter Bakker, President and CEO of WBCSD, said, “Deeper engagement between WBCSD and Lancaster University will be of huge benefit to both organizations. We have really enjoyed our research collaborations with Lancaster University, as well as with undergraduate students at our bi-annual events. The continued engagement outlined in the MoU points towards a very encouraging partnership over the years to come.”

More information about the Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business is available by visiting

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