Interdisciplinary publications on Sustainable Finance


In 2022, China, Europe, Brazil and the Horn of Africa experienced severe draughts. These had a significant impact on agriculture, leading to crop losses, wildfires, and water scarcity. On the other extreme, the flooding in Pakistan, China, Australia and South Africa caused extensive damage to infrastructure, displacement of millions of people, and hundreds of deaths. These events highlight the devastating effects of climate change, which disproportionately affect vulnerable communities and countries. The results of years of research on climate change are mostly confirmed. All over the planet, the frequency of natural disasters increases. The current situation requires accelerated implementation of measures to mitigate further global warming and to protect biodiversity. Paradoxically, no ambitious global action plan has been implemented on the political front, as witnessed after the last COPs, particularly in Scotland in 2021 and Egypt last November.

In this context, a university research center such as the Center of Competence for Sustainable Finance is essential in further promoting research and cooperation, which can then influence future policy. Even more important, it should raise awareness of greenwashing activities, which are increasingly present everywhere, from finance products to political discourses, and address them with rigorous research.

To achieve these goals, we have recently welcomed new researchers as members of the CCSF. Please read a welcome note below and a list of current published and ongoing projects by our members.

With kind regards,
Professor Marc Chesney
Chair of the Center of Competence for SustainableFinance

Welcoming our seven new CCSF Members

In the fall of 2022, the CCSF welcomed seven new members from different disciplines:

We are looking forward to their research and collaboration. Please find below three recent working papers respectively by Emmeline Cooper, Emilia Garcia-Appendini, and Adrien-Paul Lambillon.

Research News

Working Paper Engaging with Pension Scheme Beneficiaries on Sustainability: An Integrated Conceptual Framework

Emmeline Cooper’s research clarifies how the legal framework of pensions governance embeds a principal-agent relationship between beneficiaries and schemes. This distances board decision-making from beneficiaries, with implications for understanding beneficiaries’ sustainability preferences. Sustainability brings a broader set of non-financial values to pension scheme governance decision-making. In response, she argues pension schemes should engage more closely with beneficiaries to understand their sustainability preferences. To develop this research agenda further, she develops an integrated conceptual framework which identifies, first, how the conditions of a pensions regime influence beneficiary engagement and second, the normative qualities which beneficiary engagement should realise. (forthcoming on SSRN)

Working Paper Credit supply and green investments

Does an increase in credit supply affect firms’ likelihood to invest in green technologies? To answer this question, Emilia Garcia Appendini and her coauthors use text algorithms to extract information on green investments from the comments on the financial statements of Italian SMEs between 2015 and 2019. To separate credit supply from credit demand, they use all loans disbursed by banks operating in Italy to construct a firm-specific time-varying measure of credit availability purged of demand shocks. They find that green investments react strongly to credit supply. Surprisingly, this positive reaction is especially strong among firms with high availability ofinternal capital; it is also strong in areas with higher preferences for environmental protection. Subsidies and market competition can spur green investments if combined with environmental awareness.


Working Paper — How green is ‘dark green’? An analysis of SFDR Article 9 funds

Adrien-Paul Lambillon and Marc Chesney examined the inclusion of companies in “dark green” funds, classified as Article 9 under the European Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR). While these funds are intended to invest solely in “sustainable investments,” the study’s results raise questions about fund managers’ interpretation of the term. The study analyzed a dataset of 290 public equity SFDR Article 9 funds and 4,463 global stocks. The study found that a company’s greenness score is significantly influenced by efforts to improve its sustainability profile and higher ESG ratings, and not by violations of the UN Global Compact principles or OECD guidelines. Additionally, there were differences between global and regional SFDR Article 9 funds, suggesting that regional funds’ consideration of double materiality might be more limited. The study concludes that the implementation ofSFDR Article 9 poses greenwashing risks.



Journal Article — Sustainable Investing and Climate Transition Risk: A Portfolio Rebalancing Approach

The paper written by Stefano Battiston, Giacomo Bressan and Irene Monasterolo brings clarity to the ongoing debate about central banks’ holdings and climate risk. It shows that the so-called “market neutrality principle” followed by some central banks prevents them from reducing their exposure to climate transition risk. An algorithm is provided to rebalance a portfolio of corporate bonds to reduce climate transition risk while keeping credit risk and other characteristics unchanged.



Funded Research Project — Algorithmic Bias Assessment and Mitigation in Credit Underwriting

Jonathan Fu, Annette Krauss, and Mrinal Mishra, in partnership with Women’s World Banking and several financial institutions in India, Colombia, and Mexico, conducted a two-year technical assistance project, with funding support from, the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, and The Rockefeller Foundation. The researchers conducted comprehensive audits of the partner financial institutions’ credit portfolios or particular product lines for signs of algorithmic- or human-driven bias. They co-authored a practical field guide and helped develop an open-source Python-based toolkit that allows users to assess their credit underwriting processes for signs ofsuch biases based on different concepts of “fairness”. The researchers are currently working on academic research papers to improve and disseminate knowledge on underlying sources of bias and potential ways to mitigate them.



Intervention — COP27 Side Event “Mobilising the private sector for climate action — Multilateral Development Banks’ experiences”.

Can climate finance make a difference for the success of climate action? What are the conditions for development finance to deliver progress on climate mitigation and adaptation? This event was organized by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Univ. of Ca Foscari. Stefano Battiston presented some insights from recent joint work with the World Bank. Development banks need a new theory of change in developing and emerging economies.


Intervention — Marc Chesney at the 7ème Forum Actares in November 2022

Is greenwashing sustainable? And if yes, what should be done about it? At the 7ème Forum Actares organized by the University of Geneva, Marc Chesney calls for a paradigm shift to make the economy serve humanity and remove its predatory and destructive nature.

Intervention — Panel contribution by Annette Krauss at the Second SSF Annual Forum for SustainableFinance Education

Annette Krauss spoke at the Second SSF Annual Forum for Sustainable FinanceEducation in Zurich. The panel focused on the role ofacademic education in promoting sustainable financeknowledge among professionals.




Center of Competence for Sustainable Finance @UZH

The Center of Competence for Sustainable Finance is interdisciplinary university center dedicated to research in substantial finance.