June 23, 2022

Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) has launched a new Sustainable Investing Research Initiative to foster scholarship, education, and dialogue on the interplay and interdependencies between investment and major challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, poverty, and social inequalities. The initiative will be led by Professor Caroline Flammer, an expert on sustainable finance and competitive strategy.

Flammer underscored the importance of effective measures to track progress toward the mitigation of these challenges. “To promote and finance a more sustainable world, both private- and public-sector actors are increasingly incorporating environmental, social, and governance [ESG] considerations into their activities,” Flammer said. “While the growth of sustainable business and investment practices is encouraging, we still face impediments in our efforts to mitigate climate change, preserve biodiversity, and address poverty and social inequalities.”

The work of the Sustainable Investing Research Initiative will focus on the nexus between corporations, investors, policy, and system-level challenges. It aims broadly to:

  • foster academic research on investment and systems-level challenges;
  • develop better measures to track progress on addressing those challenges;
  • promote dialogue through conferences and other activities that convene leaders from academia, public policy, and the private sector;
  • establish a sequence of new courses and activities on ESG reporting and sustainable finance to educate future leaders in policy and business; and
  • conduct executive education and training for investment and management professionals—in policy and NGOs in addition to business.

“SIPA has a long tradition of policy-focused teaching, research, and engagement that bridges disciplines within the School and across the University,” said Interim Dean Thomas Christensen. “We’re pleased to establish at SIPA the Sustainable Investing Research Initiative, which reflects these enduring strengths of SIPA and Columbia University. This initiative is well positioned to further complement SIPA’s curriculum and programs on international finance, economic policy, development practice, and the environment. We look forward to fostering collaboration between SIPA scholars, and faculty experts at other Columbia graduate schools such as business, climate, engineering, the arts and sciences, and law.”

Flammer, the director of the research initiative, joined the SIPA faculty as a professor of international and public affairs in 2022. She is a faculty affiliate of SIPA’s Center for Environmental Economics and Policy and a faculty associate at the Center on Global Economic Governance. She will become president of the Alliance for Research on Corporate Sustainability this July.

Early financial support for the Sustainable Investing Research Initiative has been provided in part by generous donations from Michael J. Brandmeyer/Goldman Sachs Gives; Tanvir S. Ghani/The Osiris Group; and Steven Lydenberg. For more information about how to support this initiative, please contact Beth L. Mauro, Associate Dean of Development and Alumni Relations, at [email protected].

For more information on the Sustainable Investing Research Initiative, contact Professor Caroline Flammer at [email protected].