How to finance urban transitions to sustainable development?

The Urban Futures Studio co-organizes a series of transdisciplinary workshops on one of the most important issues of times: financing sustainable cities.

The Climate Agreement signed in Paris in 2015 will require a worldwide 95 % reduction of CO2 emissions. Such a transition amounts to an overhaul of our urban system. To reach this goal it is essential to develop coherent financial strategies and enable learning between groups inside and outside financial markets. Access to finance seems to be a crucial barrier for the development of sustainable projects, both in developed and developing economies.

At the heart of these workshop is what we have coined the ‘Bankability Paradox’: investors are looking sustainable projects (frequently under societal pressure) and social entrepreneurs are looking for funding, but they don’t find each other. Paradoxically, there is currently an abundance of financial resources on the world market, yet these resources do not find their way to innovative green projects.

The goals of these workshop are to 1) identify key research questions, 2) form a ‘community of practice’ and 3) explore trans-disciplinary forms of research focused on improving learning in practice. This initiative is part of two of the four research themes of Utrecht University: Institutions for Open Societies and Sustainability. 

Workshop 1:

‘Bankability Paradox’ from an international perspective – 24 November 2016

Workshop 2:

‘Bankability Paradox’ the perspective of the Netherlands – 19 January 2017


Participants include amongst others:

- Willem Jan Brinkman (CFRO Netherlands Investment Institution)

- Elvira Eurlings (Netherlands Development Finance Company)

- Pallas Agterberg (Director Strategy Alliander)

- Boris van der Gijp (Director Strategy and Research Syntrus Achmea)

- Harold Walkate (Aegon)

- Leon Wijnands (ING)

- Marjolijn Wilmink (Corporate Social Responsibility Netherlands)

- Eef Spronck (Corporate Social Responsibility Netherlands)

- Prof. dr. Mark Swilling (CST Stellenbosch University)

- Prof. dr. Vincent Marchau (Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen)

- Dr. Edwin Buitelaar (Planbureau voor de Leefomgeving) 

- Prof. dr. Maarten Hajer (Urban Futures Studio – Utrecht University)*

- Prof. dr. Utz Weitzel (Chair of Finance and Financial markets - Utrecht University)*

- Drs. Rens van Tilburg (Sustainable Finance Lab – Utrecht University)*

- Prof. dr. Ernst Worrell (Utrecht University)

- Prof. dr. Erik Stam (Utrecht University)

- Prof. dr. Marcus Duwell (Utrecht University)

- Prof. dr. Bas van Bavel (Utrecht University)

- Prof. dr. Rutger Claassen (Utrecht University)

- Dr. Dirk Gerritsen (Finance and Financial markets - Utrecht University)

- Dr. Peter Jan Engelen (Finance and Financial markets - Utrecht University)*

- Dr. Friedemann Polzin (Sustainable Finance Lab – Utrecht University)*

- Dr. Jesse Hoffman (Urban Futures Studio – coordinator workshop)***


* This workshop is co-organized by the Urban Futures Studio, the Chair of Finance and Financial Markets, the Sustainable Finance Lab of Utrecht University and the Pillar Sustainability & Resilience (Institutions for Open Societies)

** For more information on this series please contact Dr. Jesse Hoffman (