AltFin: Regional approaches towards alternative economies and sustainable finance


The AltFin research project seeks to better understand regional economic development at the interface of alternative economy approaches, here circular economy (CE), and sustainable finance, in order to comprehend mechanisms that will guide regional transitions towards sustainable development. Fundamentally, transitions as directed, yet open-ended, social processes require institutions to adapt and change. Thus, AltFin scrutinises in particular regional institutions in the three neighbouring countries France, Germany and Luxembourg, where national and regional initiatives have started to support CE endeavours. 

CE is indeed a prominent example of broader alternative economy approaches with particular long-term- financing needs. At the same time, powerful financial firms, mainly embedded in international financial centres (IFCs) to serve global circuits of capital, have started to shift parts of their business towards sustainable finance. For example, large investment funds seek to invest in projects and assets that not only generate financial returns but also ecological and/or social benefits (impact investing). CE is an area that potentially matches these investment criteria, but, so far, the majority of financial firms anchored in IFCs invest much more on a global than on a national/regional level. Further, finance is a powerful player and may promote change in a different direction than that intended by CE agents.