Sustainability at Ashridge

Significant global trends including population growth, globalization, shifting centres of economic power, increasing differentials in quality of life and stresses in the natural environment all point to major change in the years ahead. Our role is to help leaders think through the implications of these changes for both commercial success and broader societal wellbeing.

To play this role, we need to be doing three things:

  • Engaging in research and thought leadership to fully understand the changing nature of sustainability in each of our faculty’s field of expertise
  • Embracing ‘sustainable development’ across our portfolio of education and consulting work with clients
  • Addressing these trends in the way we operate as an organization, develop our staff and work with the local community

Ashridge signs Paris Pledge following COP21

Paris 2015 COP21 logoAshridge Executive Education has signed the Paris Pledge for Action following the historic UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris.

Ashridge joins organizations, businesses, investors and cities in welcoming the new, universal climate agreement adopted at the summit, promising to help implement it and play its part in ensuring that the level of ambition set by the agreement is met or exceeded.

The transition to a low carbon economy has advanced at pace in recent years, but progress has been held back by of lack of certainty among investors and businesses about the level of ambition, resolve and agreement amongst the world’s most significant governments.

The Paris agreement, while not perfect, delivers a genuine agreement among the world’s governments that signals their collective ambition to hold temperature rises to well below 2oC and effectively aim for ‘net-zero’ carbon emissions by the second half of this century.

Business schools in particular have a crucial role to play in helping the agreement to be implemented, through their research and work in helping to develop individuals and organizations’ knowledge and expertise.

Many will require a better basic literacy of the low carbon economy. What does it mean for raising money from the capital markets? What the implications for engaging with consumers? What are the implications for innovation and new product and service development? For supply chains? For an organization’s capabilities? What does it mean for an organization’s relations with different national and regional governments and partnerships with other stakeholders?

Business schools looking at what’s relevant for today’s business leaders should be focusing on these questions. As a signatory to the UN Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) we already have a focus on practical, applied research on business and sustainable development. We are committed to further integrating sustainable development into the curriculum of all our flagship management programs. The implications of the low carbon economy have long featured in the MBA curriculum.

Currently, the Ashridge MSc in Sustainability and Responsibility develops peoples’ skill to lead system change to help business be part of the solution to these problems. Two of its alumni set up the Carbon Disclosure Project, one of the world’s leading investor initiatives on climate change, which played a key role at the Paris summit.

Climate change is also at the core of the Hult Prize, the world’s biggest student initiative on social entrepreneurship. Teams of business school students from around the world are challenged each year to come up with a business idea for tackling a complex global challenge.

The Paris agreement is welcomed by us and we stand ready to work with others to ensure today’s and tomorrow’s business leaders are equipped to play a leading role in the transition to a low carbon future and achieving ‘net-zero’ emissions by the second half of this century.

Sustainability research discussions


Ashridge has always been at the forefront of sustainability research. In 1996 we established the Ashridge Centre for Business and Sustainability to consider the implications of the changing expectations of the role of business in society.

In 2007, we became one of the first business schools to adopt the United Nations Principles for Responsible Management Education, ( having participated in the global taskforce which developed them.

We are also a founding partner of the Academy of Business in Society (ABIS), ( The ABIS is an alliance of businesses and academic institutions committed to integrating sustainability into the heart of business theory and practice.

Clients discussing the topic of sustainability outside

Work with clients

Sustainable development runs through much of our work including Open Programs and our Custom Development and Consulting work with specific organizations.

We have a specialized Masters in Sustainability and Responsibility which is a two-year part-time program that helps managers to develop their understanding of sustainability and corporate responsibility themes.

Ashridge House through the trees

How we operate

Our vision is for Ashridge House is to be a sustainable venue of choice for all our clients.

Being a Grade 1 listed building brings its challenges. However we have already achieved the ISO50001 and ISO14001 Standards (the world's most respected standards for energy and environmental management). This is the result of our commitment and efforts in the areas of energy use, water, waste and procurement.

We have set ourselves a number of further targets including, seeking to reduce our carbon emissions by 34% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.