Priority topics for applications for PhD Research Fellowships

Priority fields for this application are:

  1. Sustainable Finance: Climate risk and investments, Climate risk reporting, or Sustainable investments
  2. Environmental taxes
  3. Deforestation Diagnostics: identifying context-relevant policies to reduce tropical deforestation

and open topic.

All topics are described below.


Topic 1. Sustainable Finance: Climate risk and investments, Climate risk reporting, or Sustainable investments: 

The School of Economics and Business at NMBU aims at taking a leading role in the field of "sustainable finance" in Norway, and as part of this initiative, we would like to expand our finance group with a PhD candidate in sustainable finance. The PhD candidate can study sustainable finance from a series of viewpoints, including, but not limited to, climate risk and investments, climate risk reporting, and sustainable investments.

Climate risk and investments: Investors today are faced with both regulatory and physical impact risk related to their investments. Across the globe, and particularly in Europe, we see a tightening of regulations and climate policies with the aim of limiting global warming. The physical impact risk is linked to potential adverse impacts from climate change such as extreme weather, floods or droughts, and sea level rise. Traditional models and financial risk assessment tools are not well equipped to incorporate the deep uncertainty and complexity of climate risk. Furthermore, increasing regulatory demands in terms of reporting and stress testing indicates that research on frameworks for assessing and pricing climate risk will be in high demand going forward.

Climate risk reporting: Climate risk reporting is analyzing and disclosing information on the expected effects of climate change and climate policy on the perceived value of the company. Shareholders, banks, insurance companies, and credit rating agencies are to an increasing degree requesting answers on how climate change and climate mitigation policies may affect the future prospects of companies. Both within the EU and internationally, regulatory demands on reporting climate risk are growing. Potential avenues for future research are, among others, whether and/or how the new regulations are affecting fund flows, how the market is adapting to the changes, and whether the new regulations may trigger reassessment of asset values.

Sustainable investments: Investments in sustainable technology in general and renewable energy in particular, are essential if we are to successfully reach sustainability goals related to climate and climate change. In a broader context, all investment decisions must now increasingly factor in sustainability considerations for ongoing commercial and societal success. Climate change has already changed how large capital owners and funds invest. ESG (Environment, Social, Governance) investments have thus become a key element of finance. The PhD candidate may approach topics and issues at the sustainability/investment nexus, with a focus on identifying, understanding, and measuring financially material ESG risks and opportunities.

Candidate: The successful applicant should have a Master’s degree in Economics or Business Administration with a focus on finance. Strong data science skills are required.

The PhD candidates research project will be developed in collaboration with supervisors, and applicants are invited to draft research questions and methods in a proposal.

Contact information: Associate Professor Torun Fretheim: +4767231116,

Associate Professor Marie Steen: +4767231149,



Topic 2. Environmental taxes:

The School of Economics and Business at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) seeks a PhD candidate to work on environmental taxes with emphasis on implementation and distributional issues.  This position is funded from NMBU’s core research budget and is part of the long-term strategy of the School.

The use of environmental taxes in Norway is expected to increase over the next years due to an upscaling of the CO2 tax to reach ambitious climate targets and the possibility of introducing taxes on the use of nature.  There are multiple implementation and distributional issues in connection with environmental taxes, spanning fiscal and implementation impacts, distri­butional impacts, and behavioral responses.  In cooperation with the candidate’s advisory team, the candidate will develop a research profile and specific orientation of the planned scientific papers for his/her work.

The candidate will work closely with scientific members of the School’s research group in Climate, resources, energy and environment (KREM), and with the Center for taxes and behavioral research (Skatteforsk).

Candidate: We seek PhD applicants with a Master’s degree in Economics, Business Admini­stration, or a related field, preferably with a good background in economic theory, and knowledge of energy or environmental economics.

Contact information: Associate Professor Eirik Romstad: +4767231144,


Topic 3. Deforestation Diagnostics: identifying context-relevant policies to reduce tropical deforestation:

The PhD scholar will be working within the project of “Deforestation Diagnostics”. The project will develop and apply a rigorous deforestation diagnostic framework to narrow the gap between ideal and universal policy prescriptions, and the diverse national and sub-national circumstances in which deforestation-reducing policies are implemented. It will seek to answer the basic question: “what works where?”. The project will identify a set of deforestation archetypes (typical contexts) and then match these with ideal, context-relevant policies. The project has a tropics-wide scope in developing the framework but will also do in-depth analyses and applications in Brazil, DRC, Indonesia and Peru. The project is undertaken in close collaboration with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR, headquartered in Indonesia) and Wageningen University (the Netherlands). The two main components of the project are:


Component 1: To identify a limited number of diagnostics variables in order to establish a small set (10-15) of stylized deforestation contexts (archetypes). Archetype analysis is a thriving field, and increasingly used to identify drivers, patterns and processes that shape social-ecological systems. The literature on deforestation drivers is useful to identify potential diagnostics variables that can be used in the archetype analysis, such as: primary agents of deforestation, tenure and other institutional arrangements, market access and demand, and agroecological conditions. We face, however, several challenges in this endeavor, for example, finding the appropriate mid-range complexity in terms of number of diagnostics variables and archetypes. Further, data availability and quality will pose constraints on the analysis, creating potential trade-offs between the importance (e.g., tenure system) and the availability of reliable data for the variable. Within this component, the following activities will be undertaken: (i) Review the deforestation literature to identify the key variables that have been used to classify deforestation archetypes. (ii) Identify through statistical analyses major deforestation patterns and archetypes, using available global data sets on land use and forest (change) characteristics, biophysical and socioeconomic data. (iii) Ground-truthing of the proposed archetypes (including key drivers) in the project countries.


Component 2: To refine the typology of forest policies within a diagnostics framework and identify and assess potential impacts of different policies and measures, depending on the deforestation context, i.e. to match policies to the particular deforestation contexts (archetypes). A number of forest policy typologies exist, most of them are pragmatic, based on the availability of impact studies. A critical element in the diagnostics approach is to identify policies which are robust, in the sense that they universally tend to produce similar outcomes, and those for which the forest and livelihood impacts critically depend on context. An example is the potential negative forest impact of agricultural intensification and higher yield, and we will revisit this potential trade-off. The activities under this component will include: (i) Develop an applicable typology of alternative deforestation-reducing policies, drawing on existing literature and by using rigorous causal theories. (ii) Draw up a context-policy matrix that matches these policy types with the land use archetypes and assess the merits of the alternative policies based on their effectiveness, efficiency and equity (3E) outcomes. (iii) Undertake in-depth analyses in project countries of the forest impact of agricultural policies aimed to increase agricultural yield.


Depending on qualifications and interests, the PhD scholar will work on selected activities under these two components.


Candidate: We are a looking for candidates with the following qualifications:

  • Master’s degree in economics or related fields.
  • Strong statistical and quantitative skills; experience in using GIS software for analysis of spatial land use data is an asset.
  • Knowledge of tropical deforestation/land use and forest conservation policies.
  • Fluency in English; working knowledge of French, Spanish or Portuguese is an asset.


Contact information: Professor Arild Angelsen: +4767231114,



Open Topic:

The PhD scholar will be working on an independent research project in one or more of The School of Economics and Business 's main research areas: business administration, finance, strategy and management, taxes, environment, climate, energy, natural resources, development, food, commodity markets, and entrepreneurship and innovation.


Candidate: We seek highly motivated candidates with an excellent background in economics. When evaluating the application, emphasis will be given to the applicant's proven academic record, the project proposal and the applicant’s academic and personal prerequisites to carry out the project.

Emphasis will moreover be placed on how the project fits the research strategy of The School of Economics and Business and supervision capacity.


Contact information: Professor Frode Alfnes: +4767231112,


Published 27. January 2021 - 14:41 - Updated 27. January 2021 - 14:41