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2021/2022  KAN-CCMVV1738U  Achieving the SDGs: Environmental Sustainability for Organizations

English Title
Achieving the SDGs: Environmental Sustainability for Organizations

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Start time of the course Autumn, Spring
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 75
Study board
Study Board for MSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course coordinator
  • Kristjan Jespersen - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
  • Paige Olmsted - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
Main academic disciplines
  • CSR and sustainability
  • Globalisation and international business
  • Management
Teaching methods
  • Blended learning
Last updated on 15-02-2021

Relevant links

Learning objectives
  • Identify the opportunities, challenges, risks and efforts needed to address environmental sustainability.
  • Apply key notions of environmental sustainability within an organizational/company context (both internally and externally) through both theoretical and practical cases..
  • Apply a broad set of environmental indicators and considerations that will support the application of a sustainability vision, strategy and value system in support of business practices and deal flows.
  • • The ability to generate a robust business case for sustainability management that will offer the potential for actual improvements in business practices that consider environmental constraints.
Achieving the SDGs: Environmental Sustainability for Organizations:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Oral exam based on written product

In order to participate in the oral exam, the written product must be handed in before the oral exam; by the set deadline. The grade is based on an overall assessment of the written product and the individual oral performance, see also the rules about examination forms in the programme regulations.
Individual or group exam Oral group exam based on written group product
Number of people in the group 2-4
Size of written product Max. 20 pages
Definition of number of pages:
Groups of
2 students 10 pages max.
3 students 15 pages max
4 students 20 pages max

Note that the exam is a group exam. If you are not able to find a group yourself, you have to address the course coordinator who will place you in a group.

Students who wish to have an individual exam might be able to write a term paper in the course. Please see the cand.merc. rules for term papers for more information
Assignment type Case based assignment
Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
15 min. per student, including examiners' discussion of grade, and informing plus explaining the grade
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) Internal examiner and second internal examiner
Exam period Winter and Summer
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
* if a student is absent from the oral exam due to documented illness but has handed in the written group product she/he does not have to submit a new product for the re-take.
* if a whole group fails the oral exam they must hand in a revised product for the re-take.
* if one student in the group fails the oral exam the course coordinator chooses whether the student will have the oral exam on the basis of the same product or if he/she has to hand in a revised product for the re- take.
Description of the exam procedure

The students will write a mini-project against the backdrop of this course. The mini project will present and analyze a sustainable agrifood case developed by the students. Students will defend their project and relate it to the course literature in an individual oral exam. The grade will be based on an overall assessment of the written mini-project and the oral exam.



Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a global call for all stakeholders to eradicate poverty, protect the planet and secure the right and privilege for people to live in peace and prosperity. The spirit of the SDGs is to move away from being ‘less bad’ towards become ‘more good’. These courses focuses on how businesses can inact and execute initiatives in service of these dynamic and inspiring goals. 


In the business community, we have to move away from sustainability being equal solely to aspirational talk, to CSR reporting, to noteworthy pilot projects that never scale within the company’s fabric, to a nuanced and witty discussion about governance. Quite frankly, where is the environment in the business discourse? Environmental scientists would say that it never adequately entered the business discussion. Inversely, others would say that traditional business education has never adequately given business students the tools to understand what is environmental sustainability and how it can affect a company’s technical, financial, managerial, and political challenges. In light that we are surpassing our planets boundaries, environmental sustainability management matters because we must learn to not only to manage our businesses to ensure that our planet is maintained but similarly to manage our planet to ensure that business can be maintained.


Since the 1980s, interest in market-based approaches to environmental management has directed attention to ways in which firms can design deals and manage risk that simultaneously correct for market failures. Running in parallel to these developments, the concept of ecosystem services emerged as an important metric through which the biophysical flows are measured in terms of economic values. In terms of magnitude, Costanza et al. (2014) estimate the global value of ecosystem services in 2011 at $125 trillion, much of which is not accounted for in measures of gross domestic product and, in any case, is considerably larger than the gross world product estimates for that year. In other words, a tremendous source of economic value simply does not count in economic - or business - considerations. Not only is making sure that at least some of this value does come to count in economic decisions and business strategies likely to be critical to sustainability, the weakness of these considerations on the part of certain stakeholders results that, for example the private sector may be blind to a critical component of the global economy.


This introductory course will begin by training all future business leaders to clearly define what sustainability management is and how to interpret and engage within a sustainable economy. While organizations have been historically tasked to manage human-environmental relationships, modern organizational activities have been less appreciative of linking both the social and the environmental since the rise of the Industrial Revolution. This gap in appreciation has now been reversed with the Danish Government, the Confederation of Danish Industries, DANIDA et al., all stressing that a mastery of how to develop systems to integrate the management of SDG issues into everyday business decision-making is essencial. The private sector needs to have incoming employees identify how business models can be adjusted to acount for environmental change, develop new products or services, transformed supply chains, initiate innovation and R&D initaitives that re-focus sustainability strategies that work to ensure corporate goals and the SDGs


Students will have the opportunity to learn about a number of sustainability challenges and opportunities that can benefit a variety of industries and organizations, such as:


  • Systems-thinking including Complex Adaptive Systems and the circular economy Natural Capital, and applying ecosystem services to managerial decision-making;

  • Evaluating evidence to enhance use and usefulness of data for impact assessment in specific financial deals


By studying these environmental considerations in a strategic fashion, students will:


  • Understand when and how to consider scientific principles that underpin business operations;   

  • Apply strategies to communicate and implement sustainability practices in diverse organizational settings; and

  • Develop knowledge and skills required for nimble and interdisciplinary thinking desired by all organizations

Description of the teaching methods
The course is designed with a flipped classroom set-up in mind. A blended learning strategy is employed to reverse the traditional learning environment by delivering a large portion instructional content through online means (outside of the classroom).

Our student-centered approach to teaching will generate:
• Knowledge/competences about theory/models/tools in sustainability;
• Knowledge/competences in reading and analyzing scientific literature;
• Presentation and discussion skills;
• Analytical skills; and
• Knowledge/competences in writing a final project report.

Development of additional personal competences linked to applied and project related characteristics of this course:
• Knowledge/competences in identifying, developing and evaluating ideas for environmental sustainability;
• Competences in innovative methods on how best to present, to develop and to integrate such sustainability recommendations focused on environmental sustainability;
• Competencies in sustainability case analysis and development.
Feedback during the teaching period
Students will receive feedback in the following forms

1.) In class feedback based on the classroom discussions
2.) Digital feedback in response to emails
3.) Exam feedback following the exam
Student workload
Lectures and Preparation 100 hours
Group Meetings 36 hours
Writing final report 45 hours
Exam 25 hours
Further Information

Who is this class for:


This course is for students who aim at becoming sustainability change leaders in their future companies who wish to acquire a broader and deeper understanding on the notion of business sustainability. This is also a course for students who do not wish to proceed in a business as usual fashion and want to equip themselves with key knowledge that will be invaluable when moving forward in their careers. This is also a course that can help align your values with your future career.


Expected literature

Chan, K. M., Anderson, E., Chapman, M., Jespersen, K., & Olmsted, P. (2017). Payments for Ecosystem Services: Rife With Problems and Potential—For Transformation Towards Sustainability. Ecological Economics140, 110-122.


Costanza, R., de Groot, R., Sutton, P., van der Ploeg, S., Anderson, S. J., Kubiszewski, I., ... & Turner, R. K. (2014). Changes in the global value of ecosystem services. Global environmental change26, 152-158.


Cooperman, E. S. (2013). The Greening of Finance: A Brief Overview. International Review of Accounting, Banking & Finance5(1).


Falkner, R. (2003). Private environmental governance and international relations: exploring the links. Global environmental politics3(2), 72-87.


Gómez-Baggethun, E., De Groot, R., Lomas, P. L., & Montes, C. (2010). The history of ecosystem services in economic theory and practice: from early notions to markets and payment schemes. Ecological economics69(6), 1209-1218.


Gómez-Baggethun, E., & Ruiz-Pérez, M. (2011). Economic valuation and the commodification of ecosystem services. Progress in Physical Geography35(5), 613-628.


Jespersen, K., & Gallemore, C. (2018). The Institutional Work of Payments for Ecosystem Services: Why the Mundane Should Matter. Ecological Economics146, 507-519.


Koppenjan, J. F., & Enserink, B. (2009). Public–private partnerships in urban infrastructures: reconciling private sector participation and sustainability. Public Administration Review69(2), 284-296.


O’Rourke, D. (2014). The science of sustainable supply chains. Science344(6188), 1124-1127.


Schwarz, J., Beloff, B., & Beaver, E. (2002). Use sustainability metrics to guide decision-making. Chemical Engineering Progress98(7), 58-63.


Talukdar, D., & Meisner, C. M. (2001). Does the private sector help or hurt the environment? Evidence from carbon dioxide pollution in developing countries. World development29(5), 827-840.


Warner, M., & Sullivan, R. (Eds.). (2017). Putting partnerships to work: Strategic alliances for development between government, the private sector and civil society. Routledge.


Weber, E. U. (2017). Breaking cognitive barriers to a sustainable future. Nature Human Behaviour1, 0013.

Last updated on 15-02-2021