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Circular Green and ESG Finance

Image of Circular Green and ESG Finance

This research area focuses on the relation between Sustainability and Finance and it is currently leveraged around the grounds of the relationship between Circular Economy (CE) and Finance – Circular Finance –, Green Finance and Transition/ESG Finance.


Digging deeper, these main grounds can be read as follow.


  • The relationship between Circular Economy (CE) and Finance considers CE as a “theme which targets specific ESG issues that cross global socio-economic phenomena and can be linked to specific sustainability outcomes alongside financial returns”.
  • The relationship between Green Economy (GE) and Finance refers to Finance as a “key actuator of natural capital policies as well as a tackle against climate change”.
  • Transition/ESG finance refers to capital flows that support the transformation of economies in a sustainable way. Sustainable transformation is a crucial factor to retain and reinforce competitiveness of real economy systems.


Research Stream 2020-2022


The Relationship between Circular Economy and Finance

Prof. Claudio Zara, Dr. Luca Bellardini, Giacomo Bezzi, Federica Oliva


In 2019 Intesa Sanpaolo and Università Bocconi signed a three-year lasting agreement to joint activities in the field of sustainable finance. The project is a practical implementation of that agreement, benefitting a dedicated funding focused on the development of an independent research on the relationship between CE and Finance and a close collaboration with ISP Innovation Center, the latter having the mission of being an accelerator for the economic development of Italian businesses, with particular attention to Digital Transformation and Circular Economy.

The projects is organized around 4 pillars of research topics, that are crucial for the transformation of finance in a sustainable way, as shown in the following graph.

ISP Research




  • Zara C., Bellardini L. (2023). Circular Economy and Finance: Either a straightforward relation or a virtuous loop? In H. Lehtimäki, L. Aarikka-Stenroos, A. Jokinen, P. Jokinen (editors), The Routledge Handbook of Catalysts for a Sustainable Circular Economy. Routledge, forthcoming.
  • Zara C., Ramkumar S. (2022). Circular economy and default risk. Journal of Financial Management, Markets and Institutions, 2250001, 1-24 (link).

  • Tellini M., El Khoury C., Zara C., Bellardini L. (2022). La sostenibilità evolve: economia e finanza circolari per un nuovo sviluppo. Bancaria, 2022(4), 17-31 (link).

  • Zara C., Iannuzzi M., Ramkumar S. (2022). The impact of circular economy on public equity in Europe. Understanding de-risking effect and risk-adjusted performance. Bancaria, forthcoming. Available as SSRN Working Paper (link).

  • Zara, C., Bellardini, L., Roncali, G. (2021). Circular economy as a de-risking strategy and driver of superior risk-adjusted returns. A white paper published by the Foundation Ellen MacArthur Foundation in collaboration with Bocconi University and Intesa Sanpaolo (link).

  • Zara C. (2020). Circular Economy and Finance: Opportunities for the financial services industry. In Pettinaroli A. (editor), Transformative Economies. From the Circular Economy to the Green New Deal, 8-21. Fondazione Giangiacomo Feltrinelli (link).


Working papers

  • Zara C., Bellardini L., Gobbi M. (2022). Circular economy, stock volatility and resilience to the COVID-19 shock: Evidence from Europe. Undergoing review by The Quarterly Journal of Finance. Available as SSRN Working Paper (link).
  • Zara C., Bellardini L., Oliva F. (2022). Does corporate sustainability reporting matter? An analysis of the relationship between non-financial information disclosure, circularity, and risk. SSRN Working Paper.




Partnership and collaborations