From energy transition to increasing calls for intergenerational equity, and from the rise of social entrepreneurship to the growing number of people who opt to put their money into “impact investing”, the issues that inspire research into sustainable development have the potential to affect the lives of every citizen on Earth.
Inspired by the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the Sustainable Development research theme aims to draw on an interdisciplinary wealth of expertise at SBE and in the broader Maastricht University community (including UNU-MERIT and its Maastricht Graduate School of Governance, ECCE, MC4E and ICIS) to create high-quality, high-impact, socially relevant research into entrepreneurship and innovation. From financial regulation and corporate governance to the circular economy, the team focuses on understanding value-creation strategies that resolve the trade-off between company profitability and broader social value.
Initial research projects include Entrepreneurship and Innovation for Sustainable Development, which examines the impact of the funding sources for startups and SMEs on sustainable practices, and Towards Sustainable Energy Transition in the Wake of Climate Change, which focuses on how both fossil-fuel-producing and consuming economies can benefit from these shifts. Development of a Global Gender Index (GGI) looks beyond the indices that focus on publicly available measures to get an inside view on whether firms’ internal processes live up to their official gender policies, and Measuring the Effectiveness of Shareholder Engagement considers the effectiveness of institutional “long-horizon” investors in achieving sustainable development goals.
Building on networks with other universities, thinktanks, policy and regulatory institutions, NGOs, financial institutions, corporations and entrepreneurs, the Sustainable Development theme is involved in a broad range of external initiatives, from creating a business case for divestment for the not-for-profit group Tobacco Free Portfolios to playing a key role in Maastricht University’s founding partnership (with Harvard Kennedy School, the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School and others) in the United Nations SDG Impact Finance Research Council.
As academics, we need to cooperate with peers in other disciplines, governments, NGOs and private companies to carry out research that contributes to achieving the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals
Rob Bauer, leader of the Sustainable Development research theme
On Wednesday 31 October, students in the Master of Sustainable Finance - developed by ECCE - met with Angélica Rotondaro, founder of Alimi, a Brazilian organization set up to promote sustainable investment in AgroForestry: a more responsible way of combining agriculture and forestry to help preserve biodiversity and contribute to saving the Amazon rainforest.
Professor Rob Bauer and a team of six students from the Honours Programme at Maastricht University School of Business and Economics contribute to a scenario analysis in the report Tobacco: Reviewing the Growing Financial Risks. The study was commissioned by Tobacco Free Portfolios (TFP), a global organisation that works with the finance sector.
“Economists can and must play an important role in keeping this planet liveable," says Sustainable Development theme leader Rob Bauer. “The world seems to have changed in just a few years. But sustainability in its various forms and guises has been around for at least a quarter of a century. Certainly at this university, in this faculty.”
Sustainability assessment (SA) aims to align decision-making with sustainability principles, but to date the results have been disappointing in both the public and private sectors. "Sustainability Assessment as Problem Structuring: Three Typical Ways", an ICIS study, has received an honourable mention in Sustainability Science's 2017 Best Paper Awards.
"When it comes to natural disasters, buildings, once constructed, are much like sitting ducks. But ducks can fly, and buildings cannot (as of yet)," observes Nils Kok in a co-authored article for Medium.com about the looming impact of climate change on real estate portfolios, with a close look at asset pricing, recent superstorms, heatwaves and flooding in the US, and big data's role in facilitating forecasting.
"Some academics take the role of preachers when it comes to sustainability, and just insist that we must be sustainable. But if sustainability pays, in monetary terms, you don’t need to be a preacher, you don’t need government rules – the market will provide incentives,” says SBE professor Piet Eichholtz, who spoke to alumni as part of the UM Star Lectures 2018 series.
"I was always fascinated about how little evidence there was about how buildings affect your health and your performance at work; it’s the reason I came to Maastricht University and SBE to work with worldwide real estate experts,” says doctoral candidate Juan Palacios of his research into the great (and sometimes perilous) indoors.
Conference: Managing and Financing Responsible Businesses, 5-7 September 2018, School of Business and Economics, Maastricht
The inaugural annual conference of the Global Research Alliance for Sustainable Finance and Investment willl be hosted by the European Centre for Corporate Engagement (ECCE) and Maastricht University School of Business and Economics. Scholars will present and discuss papers on sustainability with major contributions to complementary disciplines such as finance, accounting, management, strategy and development economics.
Keynote speakers will be Professor Alex Edmans of London Business School in the UK and Professor Tima Bansal of Ivey Business School, Western University, Canada.
My research seeks to understand the role of social entrepreneurship in tackling sustainability challenges. In particular, I am interested in understanding how entrepreneurial activity in the informal economy can contribute to poverty alleviation and sustainable community development
My passion is to understand what motivates millionaires to give to charities and to invest not only for financial return but also for social return
Sustainable development is inclusive development. Millions of young people feel excluded from participation in economic, political and social life, as a result of weak formal institutions and persistent traditional norms. This exacerbates poverty, inequality and sympathies for extremist views and behaviour. Research on these topics is key for developing effective policies and programmes for a sustainable, inclusive world