From 1969 to 1993, he held academic posts at universities in the United Kingdom and abroad. He was Chief Economist at both the World Bank (2000–2003) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (1994–1999). Lord Stern was Head of the UK Government Economic Service 2003–2007 and led the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, published in 2006.
He was knighted for services to economics in 2004 and made a cross-bench life peer as Baron Stern of Brentford in 2007. His most recent book is Why Are We Waiting? The Logic, Urgency and Promise of Tackling Climate Change (2015).