This year the 3rd Annual GRASFI Conference will be hosted online using the virtual conference software REMO.

The Program is indicative and is subject to change; all listed times are EST. 


Unstructured time between sessions will allow for virtual networking among participants, event sponsors, and speakers.

A Phd workshop will be organized on Friday 11th September, where pre-selected PhD students will be invited to present their papers or projects. Faculty and senior researchers from Alliance Universities will provide feedback, as well as advice on research, publications, and careers. 

Other side events may also be organised on September 8, 9, 10 and 11 and we encourage Alliance Universities and other organisations to organise side-events on these days. 

On Friday 11th September there will be a strategy session for the Alliance Organising Committee on key areas of future cooperation. There will also be a debrief on the 3rd Annual Conference and a discussion of plans for the 4th Annual Conference hosted by Central University of Finance and Economics, Beijing in 2021.

Tuesday September 8

8:00am - 9:00am EST

Plenary Discussion - Revisiting the Role of the Corporation

Confirmed Speakers:

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation

Leo E. Strine, Jr., Counsel, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, and Former Chief Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court

The responsibilities of corporations to all stakeholders have increasingly been recognized and demanded, calling for the fundamental role and purpose of the corporation to be revisited. The GRASFI conference will take place nearly 50 years to the day after Milton Friedman’s infamous and narrow suggestion that businesses should focus on maximizing shareholder value, irrespective of costs imposed on others. This high-level discussion will critically reexamine the role of the corporation in light of today’s business ecosystem, as well as the current economic fallout from COVID-19.

9:30am - 10:30am EST

Paper Presentation 1a
Paper Presentation 1b

11:00am - 12:00pm EST

Paper Presentation 2a
Paper Presentation 2b

12:15pm - 1:30pm EST

The United Nations (UN) launched the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015 as a roadmap for governments, businesses and civil society to achieve a more sustainable and equitable society by 2030. The UN estimated that to meet these aspirational goals, it will require investments of about USD 3.5tr a year, both from public and private capital. It's been five years since this announcement, and estimates show an annual funding gap of about USD 2.5tr, in large part due to disappointing participation of private sector investors. ​

In this practitioner-led panel discussion, we'll present the findings of a nine-month research study that sought to answer the question: What would it take for institutional investors to increase their level of commitment and participation to mobilize capital towards the SDGs? We'll discuss, from the perspective of both asset owners and asset managers, the role of the investment community in the achievement of the SDGs, why the SDGs are relevant to and important for the investment community, the obstacles that these investors are facing to integrate SDGs in their investment mandate, and, more importantly, how to ensure that investors and asset managers contribute to, and do not undermine, achievement of the goals by 2030. 

Wednesday September 9

8:00am - 9:00am EST

Plenary Discussion - The Role of the State

Confirmed Speakers:

Per Bolund, Minister for Financial Markets and Housing, Deputy Minister for Finance, Government Offices of Sweden

Martín Guzmán, Minister of Economy for Argentina

Jorge Moreira da Silva, Director, OECD Development Co-operation Directorate

Carmen Reinhart, Vice President and Chief Economist, World Bank Group. Minos A. Zombanakis Professor of the International Financial System, Harvard Kennedy School.

This panel discussion will examine the Purpose and Role of the State in shaping sustainable finance and investment to align with domestic and global needs, goals and commitments. In the midst of the COVID epidemic, we have been reminded of the power of the state to shape market forces, correct market failures, and step into the market directly as investors and providers of public goods; this high-level discussion will critically reexamine when and how states are - and should be - using monetary policy, regulation, and other tools to more actively manage their economies.

9:30am - 10:30am EST

Paper Presentation 3a
Paper Presentation 3b

11:00am - 12:00pm EST

Paper Presentation 4a
Paper Presentation 4b

8:00pm EST

Online Workshop on Climate Finance in Asia and Australasia
 Wednesday 9th (EST 8pm)/ Thursday 10th (China Standard Time 8am)

Sustainable finance and managing climate risk are becoming two of the most important issues facing investors and financial regulators. The financial risks and opportunities associated with climate change are particularly acute in Asia and Australasia. The region is highly vulnerable to climate change related natural disasters. Further, in meeting the demand of growing populations and economic growth, governments in the region have tended to lag other part of the world.


WORKSHOP: The aim of the workshop is to encourage community building among researchers focused on climate finance in Asia and Australasia. We take a broad definition of climate finance-related topics (see list of topics below) and we welcome submission from a range of methodological approaches (empirical analyses, theoretical, macroeconomic/monetary-environment models, case studies, policy analyses etc.). Papers should have clear relevance to policy or investment practice and utilise Asian and Australasian data or context.

CALL FOR PAPERS: Submit full paper or a long abstract by Monday 24th of August 2020 to CEFGroup@otago.ac.nz putting ‘Asia GRASFI Workshop – Paper Submission’ in the subject line.

REGISTRATION: Registration is free. Should you wish to attend the event please email CEFGroup@otago.ac.nz putting ‘Asia GRASFI Workshop – Attendance’ in the subject line

Thursday September 10

7:00am - 8:00am EST

Central banks and financial supervisors are playing a crucial role in shaping the responses to the crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic in both the immediate stabilisation phase and the subsequent recovery phase. To avoid lock-in to a high-carbon recovery and fulfil their mandates for financial stability, however, central banks and supervisors need to align their COVID-19 response measures with the Paris Agreement. Against the background of an INSPIRE Policy Brief produced by the LSE Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and the SOAS Centre for Sustainable Finance, the panel will discuss options for central banks and financial supervisors to incorporate climate and sustainability factors into COVID-19 crisis and response measures. 

Chair: Nick Robins (Professor in Practice for Sustainable Finance, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment)

Presentation of the INSPIRE Briefing Paper “A Toolbox for Sustainable Crisis Response Measures for Central Banks and Supervisors"

  • Simon Dikau (Research Officer, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment) & Ulrich Volz (Director of the SOAS Centre for Sustainable Finance at SOAS, University of London)


Discussion with opening statements by each panellist, followed by Q&A

  • TBC

8:00am - 9:00am EST

Plenary Discussion - Revisiting the Role and Responsibilities of the Investment Community

Confirmed Speakers:

Jane Ambachtsheer, Global Head of Sustainability, BNP Paribas Asset Management

Hiro Mizuno, Former Executive Managing Director and CIO, Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF). Independent Director, Tesla, Inc. 

Anne Simpson, Interim Managing Investment Director, Board Governance & Sustainability, CalPERS

This panel will revisit the role and responsibilities of the Investment Community in an era of sustainable recovery and development. The proliferation of sustainability principles, frameworks, and ESG and ‘impact investing’ products reflect a widespread and growing shift in expectations of - and opportunities for- investors to shape the impacts of the business sector. At the same time, many business impacts and corresponding development indicators suggest worsening outcomes - of inequality, rights violations, food insecurity, global warming, and loss of biodiversity; and COVID revealed the systemic vulnerabilities of our markets. This high-level discussion will critically examine the meaning and direction of ‘sustainable investment’ within the investment community, identify what changes in practice are needed, and articulate what is required to effect those changes. 

9:30am - 10:30am EST

Paper Presentation 5a

11:00am - 12:00pm EST

Paper Presentation 6a

12:00pm - 1:00pm EST

Side Events
Paper Presentation 5b
Paper Presentation 6b
Friday September 11

8:00am - 9:00am EST

Plenary Discussion - Financing the Paris Agreement post-COVID-19

Confirmed Speakers:

Barbara Buchner, Global Managing Director and Executive Director of Climate Finance, Climate Policy Initiative

Bill Mckibben, Co-founder and Senior Advisor, 350.org and author, environmentalist, and activist

Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

The GRASFI conference will take place roughly five years since the world’s governments adopted the Paris Agreement and committed to the objective of keeping global average temperature increases to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Achieving those objectives requires a tremendous mobilization of resources and fundamental shifts in existing capital flows and allocation. But success in financing the Paris Agreement over five years has been patchy and lacking in required ambition; while many governments have mobilized resources and a number of investors and companies have decarbonized their portfolios, investments in and financing for new fossil fuel projects and infrastructure continue to increase, and the energy transition remains underfunded. This high-level discussion will take stock of progress to equitably and effectively finance the energy transition, including reflections on whether the vulnerabilities exposed by COVID have provoked new thinking on climate resilience and action.

9:00am - 11:00am EST

10:00am - 12:00pm EST

10:00am - 12:00pm EST

PhD Workshop
GRASFI Committee Meeting

This will be a discussion among leaders from global food companies and investment firms on food systems policies and practices. The two-hour, invite-only online session will include topics on the coherence and rigor of SDG measurement and reporting, internalizing food system externalities, and investor use of disclosed information for portfolio management decisions. This session will have a specific focus on the EU and UK and will reflect on impacts of COVID-19 on the regional and global food system.



8-11 September 2020

Columbia University

The Global Research Alliance for Sustainable Finance and Investment


8-11 September 2020, Columbia University

Contact us: columbia2020@sustainablefinancealliance.org

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