The Cornell SC Johnson College of Business is dedicated to visionary collaborations for practical problem-solving. We embrace technology and data as powerful tools for business. Most importantly, we build people-centered leaders who are empowered to create sustainable, shared prosperity.

About the Initiative on Responsible Finance

MISSION: The Initiative on Responsible Finance aims to be an interface for research, teaching, outreach, and engagement activities on finance and sustainability at the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business and across Cornell University.

OVERVIEW: By developing research collaborations within and without Cornell community, the Initiative on Responsible Finance brings together faculty, graduate students, undergrads, and practitioners to work on scholarly and applied research in the broad area of responsible finance. Topics include fiduciary duty, executive compensation, behavioral economics and financial risk management, the role of asset managers and institutional investors, impact investing products, and metrics of values-based investment strategies, biodiversity finance, and much more.

In addition, the Initiative on Responsible Finance develops graduate and undergraduate courses in impact investing, environmental finance and markets, corporate sustainability, and related areas. The Impact Finance course and lab were launched in 2021. IRF also offers tailored training opportunities for professional and executive-level groups.

Initiative personnel are actively involved in outreach and engagement activities with external partners. Projects are underway  to foster the development of the field of conservation finance, to increase private, return-seeking investment in environmental protection, and to expand training opportunities in impact investing.

Events, Insights, Research


Accounting for a Sustainable World Quarterly

Processes for collecting and managing data on sustainability finance and responsible investing will be crucial to progress and profitability. Accounting in a Sustainable World Quarterly is a brand-new practitioner-focused journal dedicated to “advancing the creation and dissemination of rigorous peer-reviewed research on climate change, ESG, CSR, and sustainability reporting.” David Ng and SC Johnson College dean Andrew Karolyi serve on ASWQ’s editorial board. Its inaugural issue feature’s Karolyi’s article, Wicked Knowledge Co-Creation: An Imperative for Climate Finance Solutions.

Scenic view of Cornell campus in sunshine

Cornell ESG Investing Research Conference

The Cornell SC Johnson College of Business is pleased to announce the 2022 Conference on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Investing, July 20-22, 2022, in Ithaca, New York.

Sponsored by Cornell’s Parker Center for Investment Research, the Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise, and Investing@Cornell interdisciplinary theme, the conference is designed for finance faculty who are currently working on research in ESG investing, and investment professionals managing ESG assets. This inaugural event will offer high quality paper presentations, practitioner panels, and a keynote speech by Tobias Adrian of the International Monetary Fund. Learn more here.

Image of Professor John Tobin-de la Puente

Finance and sustainability

IRF conducts and studies research to inform and improve the implementation of financial instruments in the mitigation and adaptation to climate change and biodiversity loss.

John Tobin-de la Puente applies his legal and ecological expertise to examine the impacts of financial activity on the natural world. Acknowledging an immense biodiversity financing gap, his research explores ways to facilitate investment in conservation. Encouraging ecologists to contribute to the financial services industry’s need for understanding, he urges managers of multinational organizations to make knowledgeable, direct investments that deliver financial benefits while protecting the planet and its people. Hear John Tobin-de la Puente discuss his conservation finance research.

Headshot of Andrew Karolyi

A call for research in biodiversity finance

John Tobin-de la Puente and SC Johnson College’s Charles F. Knight Dean Andrew Karolyi have issued Biodiversity Finance: A Call for Research into Financing Nature.

“Biodiversity conservation will eclipse climate change risk mitigation and adaptation as the next grand challenge for sustainable finance,” they open. The cost to close the finance gap in this area could exceed hundreds of billions a year, they go on, and yet there are to date “no studies in top-tier financial journals that have framed the risks related to biodiversity loss, how those risks might be priced, or how the private financing flows need to be intermediated.” They lay out a framework and outline important open research questions for financial economists to pursue.


Curricular and co-curricular advancements

IRF develops graduate and undergraduate courses in impact investing, environmental finance and markets, corporate sustainability, and related areas, and offers tailored training opportunities for professional and executive-level groups.


Impact Finance

What’s the role of insurance in combating climate change? Which ESG companies are truly environmentally friendly? How can innovative financial structures help meet the financing needs of nonprofits? Undergraduate, graduate, and PhD students gather monthly in the Impact Finance Lab to brainstorm and create new knowledge addressing some of the biggest questions involved in this space.

At the same time, Initiative directors and faculty work with external partners to develop the field of conservation finance, to increase private, return-seeking investment in environmental protection, and to increase training opportunities.

“Basically, we want to put together ways to finance a better world,” says David Ng.


Professor, David Ng

David Ng

Professor, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Finance

Focus: Finance; asset management; investments; emerging markets and development

Professor, John Tobin-de la Puente

John Tobin-de la Puente

Professor of Practice, Academic Director of Grand Challenges, CEMS Program Director

Focus: Sustainable business; corporate finance; environmental, energy, and resource economics and policy; law; emerging markets


“In my Impact Finance class, we survey existing financial products –like ESG funds, green bonds, insurance– and examine their potentials and their shortcomings. Then we look at the innovative financial structures that can really help people who are combating climate change, who are addressing important social needs, innovations that really improve people’s lives.”

David Ng
Tobin_solo_2 (1)

"As the practice of investing for impact has grown, we have seen an explosion of interest in the idea of leveraging the tools of finance to address the global biodiversity crisis. Many have found this to be easier said than done -- indeed, investing in nature for long-term profit, rather than exploiting it for short-term economic gain, is turning traditional economic models on their heads."

John Tobin-de la Puente and Andrew W. Mitchell, editors of The Little Book of Investing in Nature, Global Canopy, 2020

Learn More About IRF

Have more questions about IRF? Please contact us.

301G Warren Hall, Cornell University

Ithaca, NY 14853-7801

Telephone: (607) 255-0145

Fax: (607) 255-9984