Sustainable Accounting and Finance Special Issue: Data-Driven Investments



Global attention on sustainability is shaping the evolution of finance and accounting. Effective sustainability accounting supports sustainable finance goals. Appropriate sustainability accounting data is critical to ensure that sustainable finance investments will be successful. The goal of this special issue is to bring finance and accounting scholars together so that these two groups can jointly contribute to a more sustainable planet. By facilitating discussion and dialogue around the challenges and opportunities that exist around data-driven sustainable investments, we aim to move this important work forward. 

Sustainability accounting has a 50+ year history and exists today in a variety of, mainly, voluntary reporting frameworks. The importance of this information cannot be understated. The earth is angry, our existence is at stake, we have limited carbon budgets left and we are racing towards catastrophe (Gibassier, Michelon & Cartel, 2020). Sustainability accounting information has the potential to drive more sustainable operating practices and investments (Revellino, 2020) as well as reduce information asymmetry (Adhikari & Zhou, 2021). Unfortunately, this information is not commonly audited (or is only partially so) (Boiral & Heras-Saizarbitoria, 2020) and generally lacks the comparability we are used to in financial reporting (Boiral & Henri, 2015). This raises valid questions about how much we can rely on the data that is being reported to represent a firm’s ‘true’ sustainability performance.  

Meanwhile, the world of sustainable finance is evolving rapidly with responsible investing (SRI) growing from $8.72 trillion in 2016 (The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment (USSIF), 2017) to $17.2 trillion at the end of 2019 (USSIF, 2020). Recently, more than $130 trillion was committed by banks and asset managers at COP 26 to reach the goals of the Paris climate agreement (Metcalf & Morales, 2021). This growth is driven by institutional investors and individuals looking to invest their money in firms with strong environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance. The sheer enormity of the funds flowing into sustainable finance funds has the potential to be transformative. One critical hurdle to the effectiveness of these investments exists in the underlying measurement of these ESG criteria. Given the current lack of uniformity, organizations have flexibility around carbon reporting and ESG disclosures based on their organization’s objectives (Le Breton & Aggeri, 2020). This has resulted in a variety of firms (e.g. Sustainalytics, Impak Finance) that use this information to create ‘Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) ratings’ for investors. It remains unclear, however, what these ‘ratings’ actually measure as there is little correlation between the various rating scores (Berg et al., 2019). Some believe that carbon disclosures are used simply as part of a legitimacy management exercise (Pitrakkos & Maroun, 2019), while others point out that both disclosed and non-disclosed greenhouse gas estimates are value-relevant to investors (Griffin, Lont, and Sun, 2017). These ESG scores, which rely predominantly on the underlying sustainability accounting information, are driving trillions of dollars of investment.  

The theme of this special issue is ‘Data-driven Investments’. Such data affects both accounting and finance and creates the need for urgent collaboration between these two realms. This is of particular relevance given the recent COP26 investment commitments, which give renewed importance to reliable sustainability data.  

The aim of the Special Issue at the Journal Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal is to examine the following: 

  • How can accounting and finance work together to create a more sustainable world?  

  • How can we manage and measure the impact of our investments?  

  • What issues and challenges remain to be overcome? 

  • Where do investments of the future need to be directed to begin to reverse the effects of the climate crisis and transition the world to a low-carbon future?  

Therefore, the guest editors, hosts of the Sustainable Accounting and Finance Conference at the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University, invite academic researchers and practitioners to submit papers on: 

  • Research at the intersection of sustainable accounting and sustainable finance  

  • The use of sustainable accounting information in sustainable finance decision-making and investing 

  • The effect that a single vs. double materiality approach may have on sustainable investment 

  • The role sustainable corporate governance can play a role in the effective implementation of sustainable finance 

  • What improvements to carbon accounting are necessary to direct sustainable finance towards a net-zero economy? 

  • In the movement beyond climate, and in line with planetary boundaries, addressing how accounting for biodiversity can/will play a role in sustainable finance 

  • How sustainable performance measurement and reporting will need to adapt in firms to achieve sustainable finance goals 

  • Literature reviews covering the intersection of sustainable accounting and sustainable finance 

  • And other similar topics that address critical issues to support or improve more effective connections between sustainability accounting and sustainable finance. 

Submissions and review process: 

  • All submissions should be made through the Emerald Editorial System for Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal using 

  • The submission deadline for receipt of papers is 30 November 2022.  

  • Submissions must adhere to the format and style guidelines of the Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal  

  • Submissions will be subject to an initial screening by the Sustainable Accounting and Finance Conference Guest Editors and papers that fall outside the scope or which are considered unlikely to be suitable for the SAMPJ special issue will be desk rejected. 

  • Accepted papers will undergo a typical double-blind review process. 

Types of Submission

We welcome high-quality submissions which advance our knowledge on the abovementioned topics. We do not favour any special theoretical perspectives or methodological approaches. The types of acceptable submissions include, but are not limited to: 

  • Theoretical and empirical papers 

  • Literature reviews 

  • Practice or policy reviews 

  • Qualitative, quantitative, mixed-methods research 

  • Experimental research 

  • Single, multiple, large-sample case studies 


For any questions, please contact us at [email protected]  



Adhikari, A., & Zhou, H. (2021). Voluntary disclosure and information asymmetry: do investors in US capital markets care about carbon emission? Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, ahead-of-print(ahead-of-print). 


Berg, F., Koelbel, J. F., Rigobon, R. (2019). Aggregate Confusion: The Divergence of ESG Ratings.


Boiral, O., & Henri, J.-F. (2015). Is Sustainability Performance Comparable? A Study of GRI Reports of Mining Organizations. Business & Society, 56(2), 283–317. 


Boiral, O., & Heras-Saizarbitoria, I. (2020). Sustainability reporting assurance: Creating stakeholder accountability through hyperreality? Journal of Cleaner Production, 243, 118596. 


Gibassier, D., Michelon, G. and Cartel, M. (2020), "The future of carbon accounting research: “we’ve pissed mother nature off, big time”", Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 477-485.  


Griffin, P. (2017). Carbon Majors Report 2017. CDP Worldwide & Climate Accountability Institute. 


Griffin, P. A., Lont, D. H., & Sun, E. Y. (2017). The relevance to investors of greenhouse gas emission disclosures. Contemporary Accounting Research, 34(2), 1265–1297. 


Le Breton, M., & Aggeri, F. (2020). The emergence of carbon accounting: How instruments and dispositifs interact in new practice creation. Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, 11(3), 505–522. 


Pitrakkos, P., & Maroun, W. (2019). Evaluating the quality of carbon disclosures. Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, 11(3), 553–589. 


Revellino, S. (2020), "Ac-counting for carbon emissions: simulating absence through experimental sites of material politics", Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 613-640. 


The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment (USSIF). (2017). Sustainable and Impact Investing in the United States Overview. [Web page]. Retrieved from


USSIF, 2020. Sustainable and Impact Investing Overview. [Web page]. Retrieved from