The Geographies of Sustainable Finance Information and Knowledge Sharing

Authors: Elizabeth Harnett*, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment
Topics: Economic Geography, Environment, Sustainability Science
Keywords: Economic Geography, Sustainable Finance, Climate Change Economics, Relational Economic Geography
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 2:00 PM / 3:40 PM
Room: Washington 1, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This paper will outline and analyse the complex geographies involved in the information and knowledge sharing currently occurring in the field of sustainable finance. Despite growing research surrounding information and knowledge flows in a number of different fields, including economic geography, these themes have not yet been studied in the context of sustainable finance. This is surprising given the integral role of information in investment decision-making processes, and the strong awareness in academic and practitioner literatures that current ESG (environmental, social and governance) information and sustainable finance knowledge is inadequate in both its quantity and quality.
This paper will explore the geographies of ESG-related information in the financial markets of the US, UK and Australia, chosen for their varied geographies, common language and large institutional investment systems. This paper will identify the informational needs of investors regarding sustainable finance topics and their perceptions of the existing supply of information. In particular, it highlights the role of local and global, and formal and informal, networks involved in the creation and dissemination of this information. The research builds on 97 semi-structured interviews and survey data from 154 investment professionals to find that both spatial and relational economic geographies have a significant role to play in determining access to and use of ESG information. Importantly, it highlights the ways in which geography affects the experience of information overload vs. information deficit, and how information and knowledge sharing characteristics vary between different types of investment professionals and within different financial centres.

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