Non-Financial Reporting for a Sustainable Circular Economy: Towards Greater Policy Coherence?

Call for Papers for SMART Conference in Brussels 19 September 2017, organised by SMART together with Cass Business School and Frank Bold  

Can the regulatory framework act as driver or obstacle to integrate sustainability in the governance of business, across legal entities and value chains? Photo: Soumei Baba CC by 2.0

To realise the potential of the Non-Financial Reporting Directive to foster the shift towards a sustainable global economy this Conference will gather European academics, experts, regulators, and businesses to identify and highlight best practices on the legislative, business and investor levels. The Conference will examine policy coherence, or lack thereof, between the Directive, the Capital Markets Union plan, the EU's commitments under the Paris Agreement, and the Circular Economy Package, in light of the broader societal goal of achieving sustainability within the limits of the planet. The Conference will aim to stimulate academic, business, investor and policy debate on these issues, thereby contributing to identifying the most important issues for the Commission’s 2018 review of the Directive and mid-term review of the Capital Markets Union plan, identifying where coherence might be strengthened, and strengthening business and investor reporting initiatives that contribute to sustainable, responsible and accountable business.

The EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive carries the potential to:

  • drive the integration of the principles of  a life-cycle based sustainable circular economy into business practice,
  • improve corporate governance and facilitate better communication between companies and investors on economic, social, and environmental sustainability, and
  • stimulate policy coherence across economic, environmental, social and development fields.

The Conference will be divided into an open morning session with academic presentations selected from this call, with panel debates with academics and stakeholders, and an afternoon session with a roundtable with selected participants from academia, business, finance, and policy-making. Together this will permit an in-depth discussion of academic research and its implications for practice and policy developments, followed by the roundtable debates on business and investor best practice and potential for improvement.

A peer-reviewed publication is anticipated based on the presentations at the conference.
Policy recommendations will be shared with EU policymakers, as well as the High Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance.

The Call

This conference welcome contributions on how reporting theory can be developed, how to identify relevant best practice models, and how to realise the potential for facilitating the contribution of European business to a global sustainable economy that lies in the new EU Accounting Directive 2013/34/EU as amended by Directive 2014/95/EU. The Concept Note gives more detailed information.

We invite contributions on the following and related issues:

  • How can the regulatory framework act as driver or obstacle to integrating sustainability in the governance of the business, across legal entities and value chains?
  • How can the potential of non-financial reporting as an agent of change be strengthened?
  • How can the potential of assurance and auditing as a means to relevant and reliable reporting be strengthened?
  • How can we engage with standards, verification and assurance of non-financial information in relation to reporting?
  • How can reporting ensure that due diligence is effectively employed across corporate, contractual, and global value chain structures?
  • Which reporting models and methodologies are state-of-the-art? Where and how can we identify best practice?
  • Which concrete models can we identify as best practice in relation to environmental concerns: operationalising the planetary boundaries, social issues: integrating the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and economic sustainability: including avoiding corruption and tax evasion.
  • Which ESG engagement and disclosure practices have been proven to be effective in practice, and should be disseminated as best practice?
  • How can the relationship between sustainable reporting and sustainable finance be interpreted and strengthened?
  • What changes are necessary, if any, to achieve policy coherence for sustainable business and sustainable finance?

The conference will be transdisciplinary and we welcome contributions from all relevant disciplines, including industrial ecology, environmental management and other management studies, finance and accounting, business law, law and economics, and any other disciplines relevant to ESG reporting, including theoretical work, and case studies and other empirical work.

Practical Information

Response to this call for papers may be submitted on web with a suggested title and an abstract of maximum 500 words. The deadline is 24 June 2017.

  • Response will be given by 5 July 2017.
  • A peer-reviewed publication is anticipated based on the presentations at the conference.

Please be advised that we are not able to cover funds for travel and accommodation. Speakers are invited to our speakers’ dinners, free of charge.


Professor Beate Sjåfjell, Faculty of Law, the University of Oslo:

Dr Jeroen Veldman, Cass Business School, City University, University of London:

Professor Jukka Mähönen, Faculty of Law, the University of Oslo:


Published Apr. 26, 2017 6:40 PM - Last modified June 12, 2017 10:05 AM