pdf Social Finance and Sustainable Development Goals: A Literature Synthesis, Current Approaches and Research Agenda

Alessandro Rizzello, Abdellah Kabli

Department of Law, Economics and Sociology, University “Magna Graecia” of Catanzaro, Catanzaro, Italy

The debate, especially in policy circles, around the emergence of Social and Sustainable Finance (SSF), depict as ‘paradoxical’ the contrast between SSF as a relatively under-developed field of knowledge and thought, and yet as an area of practice with ‘vast potential’ that is experiencing an ‘explosion’ in practitioner numbers. Such potential, in term of economic and social value that SSF can deliver, is reflected in the increasing of interest within the public policy-making arena in the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). More in detail, it is also underlined by the raising of public and private investment into promoting and supporting them. Within such evolving arena, the exact scale and scope of SSF’s contribution to the improvement of SDGs worldwide is difficult to delineate and measure accurately, but there seems to be universal agreement that SDGs represent an ideal and widespread area where SSF can register a significant growth. However, limited research addressed the marriage of these two fields. The purpose of this research are: i) to shed light on existing academic literature embracing both Social and Sustainable Finance and SDGs issues, ii) explore emerging trends deriving from international policy-making actors, market builders, managers, senior academics and, iii) to identify the main areas for further research focusing on SSF and SDGs. In order to derive a research agenda about such emerging research topic, the study adapts a triangulated approach based on qualitative mixed methods. With such objectives in mind, the study provides an extensive literature review in order to depict a comprehensive overview of existing knowledge considering both SSF and SDGs topics. The analysis is therefore enhanced by the trends identified from literature deriving from public policy-making actors and market-builders as well as from invited commentaries on SSF from senior scholars and managers. Thus, a holistic perspective on SSF experience, useful to identify the main areas for further research on SSF in the sustainability industry, was derived. The study, therefore, aims to provide, through a triangulated analysis of the concepts, frameworks and trends, a detailed understanding of the mechanisms for managing the interplay between SSF and SDGs, by highlight future avenues of research in this field.

Keywords: Social finance, Sustainable finance, SDGs, Research agenda

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