English   Danish

2023/2024  KAN-CCMVV2315U  Sustainability Action: Reversing Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss

English Title
Sustainability Action: Reversing Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Start time of the course Autumn
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 60
Study board
Study Board for cand.merc. and GMA (CM)
Course coordinator
  • Maria Figueroa - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
Main academic disciplines
  • CSR and sustainability
  • Customer behaviour
  • Innovation
Teaching methods
  • Blended learning
Last updated on 16-02-2023

Relevant links

Learning objectives
  • Describe, classify and critically discuss sectoral, company, behavioral or societal sustainability transitions actions from a systemic holistic and cross-disciplinary perspective
  • Explain the systemic nature of sustainability transition action, drawing from different natural, technical and social science perspectives, business in society interaction and systems thinking
  • Identify practices, strategies, policies and interactions to link climate resilience and biodiversity action leveraging intervention with nature base solutions connecting these systems
  • Understand and critically discuss the use of tools and frameworks examining sustainability, such as planetary boundaries, life cycle assessment, cradle-to-cradle, carbon and biodiversity accounting and the triple bottom line
  • Reflect upon the sources of risk, uncertainty, opportunities and controversy and trade-offs in carrying out actions for sustainability transition – from the points of view of business, government, organized civil society and individual actors
  • identify, compare and assess contributions from various technological, scientific, business and political actions and their implementation in society possibilities
Course prerequisites
DTU students and other Master University students can enroll at CBS via exchange credit.

This course is offered in parallel and as complement to Sustainability Action in Food Production and Consumption.
Prerequisites for registering for the exam (activities during the teaching period)
Number of compulsory activities which must be approved (see section 13 of the Programme Regulations): 1
Compulsory home assignments
Individual or Group assignment
Group size 3-4
Oral presentation of Group assignment
2 Slides or maximum 3 must be uploaded before presentation
Activity is followed by peer and Faculty feedback

The student will not have extra attempts to get the required number of compulsory activities approved prior to the ordinary exam. If the student has not received approval for the required number of compulsory activities or has been ill, the student cannot participate in ordinary exam. Prior to the retake the student will be given an extra attempt. The extra attempt is a 10 page home assignment that will cover the required number of compulsory activities. If approved, the student will be able to attend retake. Please note that students must have made an effort in the allocated assignments throughout the course. Students that do not participate in the assignments (no show/U) are not entitled to the extra assignment and will have to wait until the next ordinary exam to complete the course.
Sustainability Action: Reversing Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Oral exam
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Duration 20 min. per student, including examiners' discussion of grade, and informing plus explaining the grade
Preparation time With the listed preparation time: 20 Minutes
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) Internal examiner and second internal examiner
Exam period Winter
Aids Open book: all written and electronic aids
The student is allowed to bring to the preparation room: Simple writing and drawing utensils, laptop/tablet as a reference book (NB: there are no electric outlets available), any calculator, books including translation dictionaries, compendiums, notes. PLEASE NOTE: Students are not allowed to communicate with others during the preparation time.
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam. Re-exam will follow the same guidelines as the oral exam.
Description of the exam procedure

This course is taught by faculty and attended by students from CBS, KU, DTU and other Universities. The exam is individual and oral; students will have two examiners (one from CBS and one from either KU or DTU); students will extract three questions from a list of 20, and choose one to be discussed in the oral exam, with 20 minutes to prepare and full access to all study materials.

Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

Climate change and Biodiversity loss are the most pressing environmental challenges for sustainability, impacting human health, socio-economic development and peace in human societies. Business, government and civil society are taking strong actions to face these complex sustainability challenges.  Delivering on the commitments enshrined in the Paris Agreement requires an urgent and unprecedented transformation away from today’s carbon- and energy-intensive and biodiversity damaging development paradigm. It is certain that no single actor or discipline can resolve in isolation the complex nature of the needed solutions. Intensive and properful interaction between disciplines and actors is needed. A momentous global commitment was reached in 2015 with the adoption of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the Paris Climate Agreement, with countries and big business committing to tackle major development challenges while working toward delivering a future where nature and people can trhive.


These challenges have global and local, financial, managerial, political, social and environmental components. Tackling them require strong, trustworthy and longlasting partnerships between the private and public sectors. Mobilizing to present a multifaceted strategy for a collective effort, and multi-stakeholder initiatives involving non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, venture capital and universities.


There is an increasing need, and demand for, managers, innovators and employees who understand the risks and challenges and are prepared with sustainability specialist skills, and who can also operate in multi-disciplinary teams. They need to have developed and be prepared to interact in common terms and understanding with specialists in other fields so they can bridge the gaps between science, technology and business solutions to sustainability. Accelerating deployment of scientific discoveries, technological developments or business innovations on sustainability require understanding from specialist in different fields regarding the complex challenges that are involved in a just transition. Business plans require understanding of the technological complexities; scientific breakthroughs and even non-technological solutions require a clear sense of how society and individuals can accept or reject them. Clear communication of risks and opportunities to the public or the political system is lacking; policy relevance may be unappreciated when exclusive focus is placed on the next technological innovations making the transition financially unfeasible.


This course builds deep interdisciplinary knowledge and skills and seeks to strengthen students capabilities to work toward filling these gaps. It is taught by faculty members from CBS, KU and DTU (see details below) and is particularly suited to cultivate interaction between students with different skills from different universities. The aim is to provide a new generation of specialist professionals with the relevant skills to properly operate and communicate in multi-disciplinary teams that seek to tackle and find innovative solutions to take action in the societal transition reversing climate change and biodiversity loss. The course will consist of lectures from faculty  of the three participant universities, active group work, discussion, presentations and hands-on exercises; all group work requires interaction of students from all participant universities.

Description of the teaching methods
• lectures, group work/​​discussion/​​presentations, hands-on exercises
• group work includes students from all three universities
Feedback during the teaching period
Feedback is offered as follows: 1. in class usually at the beginning and end of each lecture there will be an open Q&A session; in addition to feedback offered in interaction with students during class and following group exercises during class 2. during office hours for all the faculty involved in this course
Student workload
Lectures and group work in class 33 hours
Preparation 172 hours
Examination (per student) 1 hours
Further Information

This course is taught in connection with course Sustainability of Food for students wishing to obtain the COSI ‘Joint Certificate in Sustainability: Science, Technology and Business' (CBS/KU/DTU)


The certificate is assigned by a joint COSI committee from the three participating universities. To obtain the certificate, students need to pass the two Sustainability Challenges courses.


For more info on this initiative, please see: http://cosiuni.weebly.com


CBS students not seeking to obtain the joint certificate can also take one of the courses as self-standing electives.

Expected literature
  • Andonova, L.B., M. Betsill, and H. Bulkeley (2009) Transnational Climate Governance, Global Environmental Politics 9.2: 52-73.
  • Bäckstrand, K. (2008) Accountability of Networked Climate Governance: The Rise of Transnational Climate Partnerships. Global Environmental Politics 8.3: 74-102.
  • Barnosky, Anthony D., et al. (2011) Has the Earth's sixth mass extinction already arrived? Nature 471.7336: 51-57
  • Barrett, J., H. Coninck, and C.F.D.  Morejon (2014), Drivers, Trends and Mitigation. Chapter 5, Sect 5.8. In Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. IPCC. Cambridge University Press.   https:/​​​/​​​www.ipcc.ch/​​​pdf/​​​assessment-report/​​​ar5/​​​wg3/​​​ipcc_wg3_ar5_full.pdf
  • Bjørn, A., Hauschild, M.Z. (2013) Absolute versus Relative Environmental Sustainability. Journal of Industrial Ecology 17: 321-332.
  • Day, G.S., and P.J.H. Schoemaker (2011), Innovating in uncertain markets: 10 lessons for green technologies, MIT Sloan Management Review, 52.4: 37-45
  • De Vries, W., et al. (2013) Assessing planetary and regional nitrogen boundaries related to food security and adverse environmental impacts. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 5.3: 392-402
  • Demeritt, D (2002) What is the ‘social construction of nature’? A typology and sympathetic critique, Progress in Human Geography, 26.6: 767-790.
  • Elkington, J. (2001). Enter the Triple Bottom Line. The Triple Bottom Line: Does It All Add Up?, 1: 1–16.
  • Fleurbaey, M, Kartha, S, Bolwig, et al. (2014) Sustainable Development and Equity. Chapter 4, Sect. 4.4. In Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. IPCC. Cambridge University Press.   https:/​​​/​​​www.ipcc.ch/​​​pdf/​​​assessment-report/​​​ar5/​​​wg3/​​​ipcc_wg3_ar5_full.pdf
  • Geels, F. W. (2004). From sectoral systems of innovation to socio-technical systems: Insights about dynamics and change from sociology and institutional theory. Research policy, 33(6-7), 897-920.

  • Geels, F. W. (2011). The multi-level perspective on sustainability transitions: Responses to seven criticisms.

    Environmental innovation and societal transitions, 1(1), 24-40. New York: Elsevier.

  • Geels, F. W., Sovacool, B. K., Schwanen, T., & Sorrell, S. (2017). The socio-technical dynamics of low-carbon transitions. Joule, 1(3), 463-479.

  • Goldemberg, J. (1998) Leapfrog energy technologies. Energy Policy 26.10 (1998): 729-741.
  • Guinee, J.B. et al. (2011) Life Cycle Assessment – Past, Present, and Future, Environmental Science & Technology 45: 90-96.
  • Haapala, K.R. et al. (2013) A Review of Engineering Research in Sustainable Manufacturing. J Manuf Sci Eng. 2013;135(4):041013. doi:10.1115/1.4024040.
  • Hale, T., and C. Roger (2014) Orchestration and Transnational Climate Governance, Review of International Organizations 9: 59–82.
  • Hanjra, M.A., and M.E. Qureshi (2010) Global water crisis and future food security in an era of climate change. Food Policy 35.5: 365-377
  • Hauschild, M. (2005), Assessing environmental impacts in a life-cycle perspective. Environmental Science & Technology 39.4: 81A-88A
  • Hepburn, C. and A. Bowen (2013) Prosperity with growth. Economic growth, climate change and environmental limits. In Fouquet, R. (ed). Handbook of Energy and Climate Change, Edward Edgar.
  • Hoegh-Guldberg, O., et al. (2007) Coral reefs under rapid climate change and ocean acidification. Science 318.5857: 1737-1742
  • Hoekstra, A. Y. et al. (2011) The Water Footprint Assessment Manual - Setting the Global Standard. Earthscan: Washington, USA
  • International Reference Life Cycle Data System Handbook (“ILCD Handbook”) - General guide for Life Cycle Assessment - Detailed guidance. First edition March 2010, Chapters tba
  • IPCC AR5 Summary Report for policy Makers  https:/​​​/​​​www.ipcc.ch/​​​pdf/​​​assessment-report/​​​ar5/​​​syr/​​​AR5_SYR_FINAL_SPM.pdf;
  • Jackson, T. (2009) Prosperity without Growth. Earthscan.
  • Jasanoff, S. (2010) A New Climate for Society, Theory, Culture and Society, 27.2-3: 233-253.
  • Lieb, C.M. (2004) The Environmental Kuznets Curve and Flow versus Stock Pollution: The Neglect of Future Damages. Environmental and Resource Economics 29.4: 483-506.n
  • Matzler, K., V. Veider and W. Kathan (2015) Adapting to the Sharing Economy, MIT Sloan Management Review, 56.2: 71-77
  • McAloone, T. C. and N. Bey (2009) Environmental improvement through product development - a guide, Danish EPA, Copenhagen Denmark, ISBN 978-87-7052-950-1
  • McDaniels, D. and F. Bowen. (2011) Total's Carbon Capture and Storage Project at LACQ (A): Risk Opportunity in Public Engagement. Harvard Business School Publishing
  • Mulder, K. (ed.) (2006) Sustainability for Engineers, Chapter 1,  ‘Why do we need sustainability?’ Greenleaf Publishing, UK
  • Nidumolu, Ram, C. K. Prahalad, and M. R. Rangaswami (2009), Why sustainability is now the key driver of innovation. Harvard Business Review 87.9: 56-64
  • Orsato, R. (2009) Sustainability Strategies: When Does It Pay to Be Green? Palgrave, Chapter 2.  
  • Reinhardt, F.L. (1999), Bringing the Environment Down to Earth, Harvard Business Review, 77.4: 149-157
  • Richardson, K. and W. Steffen (2015). Network of Cooperation between Science Organisations in Handbook of Science and Technology Convergence DOI 10.1007/​​​978-3-319-04033-2_80-1
  • Richardson, K., W. Steffen and D. Liverman (2014) The human-Earth relationship: past, present and future, Ch. 17 in Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges and Decisions, Cambridge University Press.
  • Rothenberg, S. (2007), Sustainability Through Servicizing, MIT Sloan Management Review, 48.2: 83-89
  • Searchinger, T., et al. (2008) Use of US croplands for biofuels increases greenhouse gases through emissions from land-use change. Science 319.5867: 1238-1240
  • Steffen, W., et al. (2015) Planetary boundaries: Guiding human development on a changing planet. Science 347.6223: 1259855.
  • Thomas, M., et al. (2015). Mental models of sea-level change: A mixed methods analysis on the Severn Estuary, UK. Global Environmental Change33: 71–82.
  • Unruk, G.C. (2000) Understanding carbon lock-in. Energy Policy 28.12: 817-830.
Last updated on 16-02-2023