The Sustainable Development research theme focuses on the economics of sustainable business and development. Many departments and institutes across Maastricht University's School of Business and Economics and beyond are conducting or setting up research and education initiatives in topics related to sustainable development. Below are a few examples.



Three professors of Maastricht University’s Department of Finance co-founded GRESB, whose mission is to enhance and protect shareholder value by assessing and empowering sustainability practices in the real estate asset sector. Jointly with leading institutional asset owners and propelled by high-quality research on the economics of green buildings, GRESB has become a leading global benchmark currently employed by the large majority of real estate asset managers and the owners of these assets.

Leading institutional investors are incorporating environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance of real assets into their investment process. Regulators are mandating ever more ESG disclosures and improvements. And tenants, owners and other stakeholders are demanding more sustainable, greener and healthier buildings and infrastructure. GRESB is responding to this demand by providing high-quality ESG data and powerful analytical tools to the industry. It assesses the sustainability performance of real estate and infrastructure portfolios and assets worldwide, and offers ESG data, scorecards, benchmark reports and portfolio analysis tools. The assessments are guided by what investors and the industry consider to be material issues in the sustainability performance of real asset investments and are aligned with international reporting frameworks such as GRI and PRI. Assessment participants receive comparative business intelligence on where they stand against their peers, a roadmap with the actions they can take to improve their ESG performance and a communication platform to engage with investors. Investors use the ESG data and GRESB’s analytical tools to improve the sustainability performance of their investment portfolios, engage with managers and prepare for increasingly rigorous ESG obligations.

Tobacco-Free Portfolios

A team of honours students at Maastricht University's School of Business and Economics, supported by staff of the Department of Finance and working in cooperation with the Tobacco Free Portfolios Initiative, is currently investigating the impact of increased litigation, regulation, institutional divestment and consumer boycotts on the valuation of tobacco firms on the stock market.


The United Nations University – Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT) is a research and training institute of the United Nations University, and carries out research and training on a range of social, political and economic factors that drive economic development in a global perspective. It places particular emphasis on the process of technological change and innovation, including the governance of science and technology and on factors limiting the access to knowledge; on public policy analysis and evaluation; on the social aspects of growth and development, and in particular the policy challenges posed by low levels of development including the limitations and possibilities for social security and other social policies; and on the relationship between global development and migration.

Global Research Alliance for Sustainable Finance and Investment (GRASFI)

The Global Research Alliance for Sustainable Finance and Investment (the ‘Alliance’) was founded in 2017 to promote multi-disciplinary academic research on sustainable finance and investment. The Alliance consists of global research universities, each with expertise in this emerging field.
The Alliance aims to: organise the major annual academic conference on sustainable finance and investment internationally; develop academic collaboration between researchers working on sustainable finance and investment; and nurture the growth and development of graduate students and junior academics working on sustainable finance and investment.
There is a significant and growing interest among practitioners, policymakers, and civil society in the topic of sustainable finance and investment. There is now an opportunity to ratchet up the quality and quantity of academic research in this area.
High-quality, rigorous academic research can inform necessary developments in the theory and practice of sustainable finance and investment. Doing so will help align the financial system with global environmental sustainability, a necessary condition for implementation of the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.