Increasingly, private and public sectors are incorporating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations into their investment practices to help finance and promote a more sustainable world. However, key impediments remain in efforts to mitigate climate change, preserve biodiversity, reduce poverty and social inequalities, and address other grand societal challenges. Addressing these challenges to promote a more sustainable world that ensures the long-term health and resilience of individuals, communities, the natural environment, and economies requires:
- Adopting a systems-focused approach that considers how business and investment practices impact the broader environmental, social, and economic systems, and how these systems impact business and investment practices and opportunities.
- Developing better measures to track progress toward the mitigation of system-level challenges.
- Creating public-private partnerships to fill financing gaps, using development funding to increase private sector investments in addressing these challenges.
In response, Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) has created the Sustainable Investing Research Initiative (SIRI). Its mission is to foster cross-disciplinary scholarship, education, and dialogue on the interplay and interdependencies between investment and the most complex challenges facing our world.
Drawing on faculty expertise from SIPA and across the University (including the Climate School, Columbia Business School, Columbia Law School, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences), the initiative’s focus is the nexus between corporations, investors, policy, and system-level challenges.
Its activities will focus on the following five pillars: 1) the development of better measures to track progress toward the mitigation of system-level challenges; 2) the fostering of academic scholarship; 3) improving dialogue by convening and hosting leaders from academia, policy, the public and private sector; 4) the development of new courses and other educational activities to educate the next generation of leaders in policy and business; and 5) executive education to inform and train investment and management professionals, including leaders from policy, business, and NGOs. These pillars aim to complement, inform, and mutually reinforce each other.
The Founding Director of the Sustainable Investing Research Initiative is Caroline Flammer, Professor of International and Public Affairs and of Climate. She is an expert in sustainable investing and the recipient of numerous prestigious awards. Among other roles, she is the President of the Alliance for Research on Corporate Sustainability, a global multi-disciplinary network of scholars fostering rigorous academic research on corporate sustainability. Professor Flammer also serves as the Chair of the Academic Advisory Committee of the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), the largest network of responsible investors to date. For further information, please visit her website.