Past Event

Global Research Alliance for Sustainable Finance and Investment 3rd Annual Conference

September 8, 2020 - September 11, 2020
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Conference program available here.

The Paris Climate Change Agreement and the 2030 Agenda aim to set policymakers, the private sector, and civil society on a common path to advance global environmental sustainability and human wellbeing. In this context, actors and institutions in our financial system have a crucial role to play in catalyzing and supporting relevant solutions, and in ensuring that they do not undermine necessary social, environmental, and economic progress. It is also increasingly important that academic research helps to guide global cooperation efforts in an effective direction. This research must come from a diverse range of approaches and fields in order to constructively address what are extremely complicated and multi-disciplinary problems in the sustainability and finance fields.

The Global Research Alliance for Sustainable Finance and Investment was founded in 2017 to promote multi-disciplinary academic research on sustainable finance and investment. The Alliance organizes a major annual academic conference on sustainable finance and investment. The Alliance is also developing academic collaboration among researchers working on sustainable finance and nurturing the growth and development of graduate students and junior academics working on these topics.

The 3rd Annual Conference was hosted online by the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI), a joint center of Columbia Law School and the Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York.

Papers were presented over multiple conference sessions, organized around the themes of the submissions. Themes include:

  • Sustainable finance – the roles and impacts of different financial services actors and institutions
  • Corporate governance
  • Climate-related risks and finance
  • Data and novel methods for understanding and measuring sustainability in finance and investment
  • Measuring impact
  • The role and effectiveness of ESG ratings and assessment
  • Sustainable finance and the law
  • Social and human rights dimensions of sustainable finance
  • Sustainable investment in and by emerging market actors
  • The role of the state (e.g., central banks, development banks, and regulators) in advancing sustainable finance
  • Financing natural infrastructure
  • Agenda 2030 and the role of accounting systems

The Conference was accompanied by a PhD workshop, held on Friday, September 11th, where pre-selected PhD students had the opportunity to present their papers. Faculty and senior researchers from Alliance Universities provided feedback, as well as advice on research, publications, and careers. This event was also held online.

Conference Videos and Papers:

Please click on the link to the event you would like to watch. Full papers, where available, can be accessed by following the link on the paper title.

Day 1- Tuesday September 8:

Opening Keynote & Plenary Session 1 – Revisiting the Role of the Corporation
Paper Presentation 1a – ESG: What Are We Talking About?

Aggregate Confusion: The Divergence of ESG Ratings, Florian Berg, Julian Koelbel and Roberto Rigobon

Responsible Institutional Investing Around the World, Pedro Matos, Rajna Gibson Brandon, Simon Glossner, Philipp Krueger and Tom Steffen

Navigating impact measurement: The case of South African impact investors, Erin Bennett and Xolisa Dhlamini

A typology of global sustainable finance codes and standards – a crucial explanation of their evolution, differences, and today’s application, Christoph Nedopil Wang and Yao Wang


Paper Presentation 1b – Climate Change: Financial Implications of Physical Risks

The Economic Costs of Climate Change, Emilia Garcia-Appendini, Claudia Custodio, Miguel Ferreira and Adrian Lam

Shelter from the storm: Which safe asset for climate disasters? Abraham Lioui, Mathew Lanfear and Mark Siebert

How does VIX response to Nature Disasters: A Cross-country Perspective, Ping Wei, Xiaodan Mao, Yunfeng Zhao and Xiaohong Chen

Labor Market Frictions and Adaptation to Climate Change, Jisung Park, Nora Pankratz and Patrick Behrer.


Paper Presentation 2a – ESG Performance and Financial Performance

Do low-carbon investments in emerging economies pay off? Evidence from the Brazilian stock market, Felipe A. F. De S. Cunha, Erick M. De Oliveira, Marcelo C. Klotzle, Renato J. Orsato and André F. P Lucena

A Sustainable Capital Asset Pricing Model (S-CAPM): Evidence from green investing and sin stock exclusion, Olivier David Zerbib

Better Fewer, But Better: Stock Returns and the Financial Relevance and Financial Intensity of Materiality, Costanza Consolandi, Robert G. Eccles and Giampaolo Gabbi

Enhancing Profits and Reducing Losses by Managing Material Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Factors, James McGlinch and Witold Henisz.


Paper Presentation 2b – Actors and Approaches for Driving Change

Sustainable Finance and Transmission Mechanisms to the Real Economy, Elizabeth Harnett, Ben Caldecott, Alex Clark and Krister Koskelo

Does Green Finance Reduce Pollution? Evidence from a Government Pilot Program, Zhiyao Deng, Dragon Tang and Yupu Zhang

Universal Ownership in Practice: A practical positive investment framework for asset owners, Ellen Quigley

Do Health Hazards Reshape Firm Boundaries? Adrian Lam.

Countdown to 2030: The role of the investment industry in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals 


Day 2- Wednesday September 9:

ESG Research Brainstorm – What do we need to know to understand the financial impact of climate change and other ESG issues?
Plenary Session 2 – The Role of the State
Paper Presentation 3a – Economic Ecosystems for Sustainability

Central Bank Mandates, Sustainability Objectives and the Promotion of Green Finance, Simon Dikau and Ulrich Volz

Bank Green Lending and Credit Risk, An Empirical Analysis of China’s Green Credit Policy, Xiaoyan Zhou, Ben Caldecott, Andreas Hoepner and Yao Wang

Capital stranding cascades: The impact of decarbonisation on productive asset utilisation, Emanuele Campiglio, Eric Kemp-Benedict, Antoine Godin and Louison Cahen-Fourot

Heterogeneous Actors and Relationships in the Global Solar Finance Market: A Complex Systems Approach, Sumit Kothari and Nadia Ameli


Paper Presentation 3b – Where the Market Is Not Getting It Right

End of life decommissioning and recycling of solar panels in the United States. A real options analysis, Carlos Vargas and Marc Chesney

Is Africa leapfrogging to renewables or heading for carbon lock-in? A machine-learning-based approach to predicting success of power-generation projects, Galina Alova, Philipp Trotter and Alex Money

The birds won’t pay: unlocking finance for mainstreaming urban nature-based solutions, Helen Toxopeus, Laura Tozer and Harriet Bulkeley

Climate-related financial policy in a world of radical uncertainty: Towards a precautionary approach, Hugues Chenet, Josh Ryan-Collins and Frank van Lerven


Paper Presentation 4a – The Role of the Law: Climate Litigation, Disclosure Rules, and Corporate Governance

From Bushfires to Misfires: New Developments in Climate Litigation Over Financial Risk, Esmeralda Colombo

Under Pressure: The Link between Mandatory Climate Reporting and Firms’ Carbon Performance, Tobias Bauckloh, Christian Klein, Thomas Pioch and Frank Schiemann

The cost of climate change litigation for financial institutions, Javier Solana

Legal Origins and Institutional Investors’ Support for Corporate Social Responsibility, Colin Tissen, Rob Bauer and Jeroen Derwall

Explaining Deference: Why and When do Policymakers think FDI needs Tax Incentives? Sarah Bauerle Danzman and Alexander Slaski


Paper Presentation 4b – ESG: What Lenders Want, Do, and Can Do

The Cost of Debt of Renewable and Non-Renewable Energy Firms: Evidence from Loan Data, Oliver Schenker, Karol Kempa and Ulf Moslener

Credit risk sensitivity to carbon price, Vincent Bouchet and Theo Le Guenedal

Bank 2030: Accelerating the transition to a low carbon economy, Jasminka Enderle, Grant Rudgley and Nina Seega

Low-Carbon Investment and Credit Rationing, Karol Kempa and Christian Haas

Ask the Academic: A conversation between practitioners and researchers on sustainable investing
I Put a Spell on You: The Business Roundtable’s Statement of Purpose


Day 3 – Thursday September 10:

Finding a Sustainable Crisis Response for Central Banks and Supervisors
Next Generation Skills for Sustainable Finance Education
Plenary Discussion 3 – Revisiting the Role and Responsibilities of the Investment Community


Paper Presentation 5a – Shareholders: Drivers of ESG Change(?)

Can Sustainable Investing Save the World? Reviewing the Mechanisms of Investor Impact, Julian Koelbel, Florian Heeb, Falko Paetzold and Timo Busch

Environmental Impact Investing, Tiziano De Angelis, Peter Tankov and Olivier David Zerbib

The Real Effects of Environmental Activist Investing, S. Lakshmi Naaraayanan, Kunal Sachdeva and Varun Sharma

Shareholder Activism and Firms’ Voluntary Disclosure of Climate Change Risks, Caroline Flammer, Michael Toffel and Kala Viswanathan


Paper Presentation 5b – A Financial Lens into the Crises of Our Times

Sustainability in the time of uncertainty, Julia Meyer and Ola Mahmoud

Universal Ownership Theory and the Double Hermeneutic: Norms and Feedback Loops in the Age of COVID-19, Ellen Quigley

Capital Budgeting and Climate Change: Does Corporate Internal Carbon Pricing Reduce CO2 Emissions? John Byrd, Elizabeth Cooperman and Kent Hickman

Determinants of Internal Carbon Prices, Gianfranco Gianfrate and Nuno Bento


Paper Presentation 6a – Shareholders: Drivers of ESG Change(?) (Continued from 5a)

Shareholder activism on climate change: evolution, determinants and consequences, Ivan Diaz-Rainey, Paul A. Griffin, David Lont, Antonio Jesús Mateo Márquez and Constancio Zamora Ramírez

Coordinated Engagements, Elroy Dimson, Oğuzhan Karakaş and Xi Li

Green versus Brown Initial Public Offerings: How do green IPOs fare?  Freddie Cleverley, Ivan Diaz-Rainey and Pia Helbing

The value of a Principles for Responsible Investing designation: A setting for environmental social and governance natural experiments, Dan Daugaard


Paper Presentation 6b – ESG: Does it Matter to Investors?

Sustainability and Private Wealth Investment Flows, Amir Amel-Zadeh, Rik Lustermans and Mary Pieterse-Bloem

Carbon Intensity and the Cost of Equity Capital, Arjan Trinks, Gbenga Ibikunle, Machiel Mulder and Bert Scholtens

The Impact of Sustainability on Retail Investor Trading Behavior: Evidence from Germany, Yasid Soufi, Frederik Klatt and Christof Weinhardt

Determinants of individual sustainable investment behavior – A framed field experiment, Gunnar Gutsche, Heike Wetzel and Andreas Ziegler

The “S” in “ESG”
Assessing Corporate Governance: Material Findings for Investors


Friday September 11:

Climate Action in the Time of Debt Distress
Plenary Discussion 4 – Financing the Paris Agreement post-COVID-19


Paper Prize Winners

GRASFI Best Paper Prize:

"Aggregate Confusion: The Divergence of ESG Ratings" by Florian Berg, Julian Koelbel and Roberto Rigobon

GRASFI Best Ph.D. Paper Prize (sponsored by the CFA Institute Financial Analysts Journal):

"Do institutional investors foster a good society? Evidence from private prisons" by Eyub Yegen

GRASFI Best Paper for Potential Impact on Sustainable Finance Practices:

"Universal Ownership in Practice: A practical positive investment framework for asset owners" by Ellen Quigley

GRASFI Best Paper Prize for Research on Climate Finance (sponsored by Imperial College London):

"Credit risk sensitivity to carbon price" by Vincent Bouchet and Theo Le Guenedal

GRASFI Best Paper Prize for Research on the Role of the State in Sustainable Finance:

"The Cost of Debt of Renewable and Non-Renewable Energy Firms: Evidence from Loan Data" by Oliver Schenker, Karol Kempa and Ulf Moslener

GRASFI Best Paper Prize on Measuring Impact:

"Shades of green: Life cycle assessment of renewable energy projects financed through green bonds" by Ioana Popescu, Thomas Gibon, Claudia Hitaj, Claudio Petucco and Enrico Benetto

GRASFI Best Paper Prize on ESG Standards:

"Aggregate Confusion: The Divergence of ESG Ratings" by Florian Berg, Julian Koelbel and Roberto Rigobon

GRASFI Best Paper Prize on Emerging Market Actors:

"Is Africa leapfrogging to renewables or heading for carbon lock-in? A machine-learning-based approach to predicting success of power-generation projects" by Galina Alova, Philipp Trotter and Alex Money.

GRASFI Best Paper Prize for Research on Sustainable Investment (sponsored by the CFA Institute Financial Analysts Journal):

"GRASFI Best Paper Prize for Research on Sustainable Investment" by Julia Meyer and Ola Mahmoud

Organizing Committee:

Amir Amel-Zadeh, Associate Professor of Accounting, Oxford University
Howard Buffett, Adjunct Professor of Sustainability Policy and Management, Columbia University
Satyajit Bose, Professor of Sustainable Investing, Columbia
Ben Caldecott, Director, Oxford Sustainable Finance Programme, Associate Professor, Oxford University
John Coffee, Director, Center of Corporate Governance, Columbia University
Todd Cort, Co-Director Initiative on Sustainable Finance, Yale University
Bob Eccles, Visiting Professor of Management Practice, Oxford University
Dan Esty, Professor of Environmental Law & Policy, Yale University
Ron Gilson, Professor of Law and Business, Columbia University
Elizabeth Harnett, Lead, Oxford Sustainable Finance Programme, Oxford University
Tessa Hebb, CERES, Fellow, Centre for Community Innovation, Carleton University
Sarah Holloway, Director, Management Specialization, Columbia School of International and Public Affairs
Bruce Kogut, Professor of Leadership and Ethics, Columbia Business School
Falko Paetzold, Managing Director, Department of Banking and Finance, Center for Sustainable Finance and Private Wealth, UZH
Jeffrey Sachs, University Professor, Columbia University
Aniket Shah, Head of Sustainability and ESG Research for the Americas, UBS, Senior Fellow, Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, Columbia University
Alicia Seiger, Managing Director, Precourt Institute Sustainable Finance Initiative and Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, Stanford University
Paul Smeets, Professor of Philanthropy and Sustainable Finance, Maastricht University
John Tobin-de la Puente, Professor of Practice of Corporate Sustainability, Co-Director, Initiative on Responsible Finance, Cornell University
Bruce Usher, Director, Tamer Center for Social Enterprise, Columbia University
Tracy Van Holt, Academic Director, Center for Sustainable Business, New York University
Yao Wang, Director General, International Institute of Green Finance, CUFE

Adam Zurofsky, Professor of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University

Panel Speakers:

Jane Ambachtsheer; Sharan Burrow; Per Bolund; Barbara Buchner; Patricia Espinosa; Martín Guzmán; Hiro Mizuno; Jorge Moreira da Silva​; Sanda Ojiambo; Femi Oke (Moderator); Carmen M. Reinhart; Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs; Anne Simpson; Leo E. Strine; Mervyn Tang; Adam Zurofsky