Sustainable finance towards macro-stewardship

Scholarships are available for up to three projects in sustainable finance, to support the development of an appropriate global and national financial architecture and governance provision towards sustainable development.

Start date

1 January 2023


3.5 years

Application deadline

Funding source

Aviva Foundation

Funding information

Up to three PhD scholarships, paying the standard ESRC stipend (£16,062 p.a. for 2022-23) and UK fees.


There is one scholarship available each for up to three projects:

How can the International Financial Architecture encourage better alignment with the Paris Agreement?

Climate Change is a profound and existential challenge for humanity. As the latest IPCC report suggests, the business-as-usual scenario will mean that 75% of the global population will be exposed to live-threatening climatic conditions. The Paris Agreement is the globally accepted and pursued policy framework to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions to avoid such a future with all countries and all sectors have common but differentiated responsibilities to pursue Net Zero. Financial Institutions play a critical role in this challenge, but a core question remains whether the financial architecture – the national, regional, global and sector-specific sets of rules, prohibitions and guidance – is suitable for the pursuit of the Paris Agreement? How can the International Financial Architecture governance framework of banking, insurance and investment be improved to further net zero, to finance constructive change, to curtail financing of further climate destruction, to demonstrate climate-optimal asset allocation, and what could be the key driver and actors from within the sector?

Investor and NGO engagement with companies on environmental and human rights

In their respective roles, institutional investors and NGOs alike have been pushing for some time towards improved macro stewardship and governance on environmental and human rights. This project aims to identify patterns and drivers where these efforts have been particularly successful at systemic change, hopefully with the view of how such engagement strategies can be placed into a normative or even regulatory framework and scaled up. A particular dimension is the engagement and interaction between institutional investors and NGOs towards change in the broader operating environment as both often engage with the same companies but with different means and a different scale, but historically, they typically do not combine their effort or seek synergies. This project will see Aviva Investors as one institutional investors, but will not be limited to it.

A systematic and contemporaneous study into engagement in this area in the context of TNFD

As one prominent example in the field of global biodiversity management, the Taskforce on Nature Related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) was launched in June 2021 and presents to date the by far largest initiative from within the Financial Sector, with desired continued support by the G8, the G20, the UN and a plethora of significant actors in the area. This project aims to provide a systematic review over time and contemporaneously of how TFND institutional and investor engagement with ecosystem protection perform, and what the main pathways as well as outcomes of such activities were. This includes past and current events. Lessons should be drawn for priorities for institutions, investors as well as TNFD and beyond.

Likely supervisors are Walter Wehmeyer and Ian Christie.

A later start date of April 2023 may be possible.

About the Centre of Environment and Sustainability

The Centre for Environment and Sustainability (CES) is an internationally-acclaimed centre of excellence on sustainable development. Established in 1992 by Emeritus Professor Roland Clift, the centre is now being led by Prof Richard Murphy.  

Our research uses interdisciplinary approaches to the analysis of complex systems, integrating the engineering and science-based disciplines with insights from the economic and social sciences, and from this develop action-oriented, policy relevant responses to long-term environmental and social issues. The impact of our research and teaching is enhanced by our work in close partnership with diverse businesses and industry on sustainable innovation and implementation issues in practice. These activities inform our teaching (undergraduate, masters, doctoral) to enable our graduates to develop the leading-edge knowledge and skills needed for successful careers in all aspects of sustainability. We provide a friendly and supportive environment in which innovative thought and creativity are strongly encouraged and in which our internationally and culturally diverse group of students and staff can flourish.

The studentships are funded by Aviva Investors, who will be an active partner in the project throughout.

Eligibility criteria

Applicants should have a 2:1 or better in a suitable subject area.

English language requirements

IELTS minimum 6.5 overall with 6.0 in writing, or equivalent.

How to apply

Applications should be submitted via the Environment and Sustainability PhD programme page. In place of a research proposal you should upload a document stating which one of the three topics you wish to apply for, and why.

A later start date of April 2023 may be possible.

Studentship FAQs

Read our studentship FAQs to find out more about applying and funding.

Application deadline

Contact details

Walter Wehrmeyer
04A AA 02
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 689075

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