Short courses


Navigating the Business Sustainability Agenda

  • 22.5 hours taught + 10 hours independent study
  • 3 days over 2 weeks


This three-day, online live-streamed course will help you bring sustainability centre-stage in business decision-making.

You'll learn how this challenge is being addressed in leading organisations around the world, and how to develop and implement a sustainability strategy for your business.

You'll learn how to deploy disciplines and strategies to foster a sustainably profitable business and report these benefits to your customers.

You'll learn about cutting-edge thinking and practice from UCL academics and from practitioners who work with a wide range of companies on their sustainability strategies. You'll also hear from a variety of business leaders and other experts in corporate sustainability.

This workshop is run by the Bartlett School of Environment, Energy and Resources with external consultancies Anthesis and Volans.

Who this course is for

This course is aimed at executives at middle and senior management level and board advisors.

It’s for you if you want to: 

  • deepen your understanding of sustainability issues 
  • apply this in your role to benefit your organisation and its stakeholders 
  • progress your career

No formal prerequisites are required to take this course. 

Course content

Day 1: Understanding the sustainability agenda in relation to business

  • The business sustainability agenda 
  • Decarbonisation, dematerialisation (the circular economy), detoxification 
  • Regeneration of nature 
  • Economic, social and environmental drivers 

Day 2: Measuring sustainability in your organisation

  • Business purpose and value
  • Measuring and reporting on corporate sustainability
  • Stakeholder needs and expectations: shareholders, supply chains, operations, employees, customers
  • Practical exercise in your business
  • Evening ‘fireside chat’ with business sustainability thinker John Elkington of Volans

Day 3: Becoming sustainability leaders for transformation

  • Key concepts and tools in business and systems transformation
  • Learning from a live example from a leading business
  • Leading in your own business’ response to the sustainability imperative

Further information

This course draws from material developed for and published by the United Nations Environment Programme’s GEO for Business for which UCL is a partner. GEO for Business is publishing six Briefs for Business covering aspects of the sustainability transition:

  • an overview of business and sustainability
  • sustainable finance
  • the circular economy
  • decarbonised electricity and networks
  • sustainable food systems
  • sustainable infrastructure.

Some of the authors involved in the UNEP GEO for Business will be lecturers on the courses. 


The three days will consist of live seminars online, with interactive breakout exercises and opportunities to network with others. 

Some pre-reading will be supplied in advance. You’ll have access to UCL Extend, the online course platform, to access learning materials.
In addition to the three teaching days, you’ll need to spend up to 10 hours on individual assessment work. You’ll be given feedback on this work by the academic and business experts. 

In the two weeks between days 2 and 3, you’ll be given an exercise to carry out in your organisations, in collaboration with your colleagues. For this, you’ll apply some of the insights you’ll have acquired in the first two days. 

Assessment and certificates

On Day 3 you'll present the results of the exercise to your peers and the course team. This will form part of your assessment. 

You’ll also be assessed on the strategy and action plan you will produce after Day 3.

A UCL certificate of completion will be awarded upon completion of the course. 

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course you’ll be able to: 

  • evaluate the impact of current global, economic, social and environmental pressures on your organisations 
  • understand the importance of navigating complexity through system-thinking 
  • recommend how to align sustainability with the core organisational strategy 
  • assess the opportunities for innovation and collaboration with key stakeholders 
  • reflect on the values, thinking and practices that need to be developed to be an effective change agent 
  • ride the coming sustainability wave and unsustainability disruption
  • act now in ways that explore your organisation’s role in transformation

You’ll also leave the course with a personal action plan, which you can start implementing straight away.

Benefits for employees

This is an engaging, participatory, practice-based course that’s intended to provide tangible benefits for individual career prospects, as well for your organisation. The teaching will blend lectures from some of UCL’s top academics with a wide range of experience from expert practitioners and invited business participants.

Benefits to employers

If you sponsor your employee to attend this course, your organisation will benefit from the up-to-date research and content provided, and the improved skills of your colleague. These will support better decision-making and help your organisation become more sustainable in its activities and more efficient. It will also help your organisation be better prepared to meet challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss and resource scarcity, and supply chain issues.

Course team

Professor Paul Ekins OBE

Professor Paul Ekins OBE

Paul is one of the UK’s leading academic sustainability experts. He’s Professor of Resources and Environmental Policy at UCL, where he directs the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources. His work with business and government is published in 12 books and over 100 journal articles, and has focused on policies for an environmentally sustainable economy. He’s currently a Co-Chair of the Advisory Boards of UNEP’s GEO for Business programme. In 2015 he was awarded an OBE ‘for his services to environmental policy’.

Professor Raimund Bleischwitz

Professor Raimund Bleischwitz

Raimund is Chair in Sustainable Global Resources at UCL and Director of the UCL Bartlett School of Environment, Energy and Resources. He’s Co-investigator on two UKRI Circular Economy Centres on metals and construction materials and is a member of the DEFRA Resources and Waste Targets Expert Group. Raimund has been Principal Investigator of a collaborative project on the circular economy in China (SINCERE), and is involved in a number of EU projects on eco-innovation and raw minerals. He’s published more than 300 papers and his recent book is the Routledge Handbook of the Resource Nexus. He’s given policy advice in UK, in the EU, Germany, Japan, China and USA.

Louise Kjellerup Roper

Louise Kjellerup Roper

Louise is CEO of Volans. She’s worked with Volans to form a number of partner organisations and thought leadership Initiatives such as Tomorrow’s Capitalism Inquiry, the Green Swans Observatory and the Bankers For NetZero Initiative. She also advises leading businesses in their transformation journeys towards a regenerative future. Louise started her career in the tech industry and since then successfully launched circular economy brands across Europe. She’s a mentor through Aspire and lectures at Cranfield University’s Centre for Design, Innovation and Sustainability and at Exeter Business School, where she is on the Industrial Advisory Board. She’s also on the Advisory board of the Global CO2 Initiative, the Sustainable Finance Centre, The UKRI Interdisciplinary Centre for Circular Chemical Economy and The Good Growth Company.

David Bent

David Bent

David is a strategy advisor, facilitator and futurist who has worked on sustainability for almost 20 years. Previously he was Director of Sustainable Business at Forum for the Future, advising corporates like O2, Unilever and Capgemini on how to succeed by creating a better future. He’s helped the Cabinet Office launch its Inclusive Economy Partnership and advised UNDP on making markets work for the Sustainable Development Goals. He’s chair of the EIRIS Foundation and an Edmund Hilary Fellow. He’s also a Practice Advisor at the International Futures Forum, an Associate Fellow of the Centre for Science and Policy at the University of Cambridge and Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources.

Ben Tuxworth

Ben Tuxworth

Ben is a Director at Anthesis. He has over 30 years' experience in strategy and communications for sustainability and has advised a wide range of organisations in business, public and third sectors. He leads strategy and communications work at Anthesis where his clients have included Lego, Intercontinental Hotels Group, Tesco, Kingfisher, Cisco, eBay, The North Face, Network Rail, Synopsys, Lidl and Ovo Energy. Before joining Anthesis, Ben led the sustainability consulting team at Salterbaxter, a leading sustainability strategy and communications agency. His clients included Maersk Group, Iglo Foods, Toyota Motor Europe and Nokia. He also led Directions, Salterbaxter’s thought leadership programme.

Course information last modified: 30 Jan 2023, 18:09