Chanel collaborates with Cambridge University on sustainability

Chanel is collaborating with the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) to focus on sustainability solutions and leadership. The three-year partnership will initially work on building an education and sustainability leadership programme, innovative operational projects, and supporting students to create tomorrow’s leaders.

This unique multi-faceted partnership will combine tailored sustainability education programmes, innovative operational projects, and scholarships focused on driving greater inclusion. It will draw on expertise from across the University of Cambridge, including the Institute of Manufacturing, the Cambridge Judge Business School and its climate change initiative, Cambridge Zero to advance practical sustainability solutions to specific business and societal challenges including how to reduce and avoid carbon emissions and address biodiversity loss.

The Chanel-CISL partnership will initially focus on three main streams of work. Considering that professional development on sustainability topics is critical to drive change, CISL will help structure a customised education programme for Chanel management and key operational teams to raise awareness and deepen knowledge on diverse topics ranging from biodiversity and climate change to the use of materials and resources.

The partnership will also launch a series of three innovation “sprints”, each lasting up to 18 months. Each sprint will frame key questions and bring together insights and expertise from across Cambridge University to accelerate innovation within Chanel on business challenges and opportunities, initially relating to specific products and processes in Fashion along with its wider business. CISL will then bring together a pool of experts to help accelerate innovative ideas and to prototype solutions for direct application within Chanel.

The third area under focus is supporting students to create tomorrow’s leaders. Chanel will sponsor individuals from under-represented backgrounds to join CISL’s Masters in Sustainability Leadership programme over the next three years, providing the largest support to a masters programme by a single company. Chanel will also work with students from across the University of Cambridge to help them apply smart ideas to real-world problems and advance Chanel’s sustainable transformation strategy.

This partnership builds on Chanel’s strong relationship with CISL over several years, focusing on sustainability education and research. Chanel’s collaboration with Cambridge University builds on the company’s journey to work with leading academic institutions, mission-driven sustainability organisations, NGOs, industry associations and governments around the world to support research and action on topics key to its sustainable transformation journey.

Andrea d’Avack, chief sustainability officer at Chanel, said: “Sustainability is one of the critical challenges facing our society today and a key strategic priority for Chanel. We are delighted to partner with one of the world’s most prestigious universities and academic institutes. This new partnership reflects key pillars of our business transformation: from research and insights that deepen our understanding to finding tangible solutions that positively impact our supply chain and wider communities. This is underpinned by educational initiatives that will help to embed a sustainability mindset to accelerate change.”

Clare Shine, director and chief executive officer, CISL said: “For over 800 years, the University of Cambridge has been at the forefront of driving change. CISL has an unrivalled track record of building leadership capability, advancing knowledge and delivering real-world solutions. This is a really important partnership with Chanel that can generate long-term benefits at global scale. Many of the solutions required for truly sustainable economies and societies do not yet exist, are not commercially viable or are not yet fully scalable. We believe that this bold research-backed initiative will help Chanel in its ongoing efforts to shape the future of luxury, inform leadership and best practices, and inspire responsible businesses around the world.”


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