GRA 6567 Global Sustainability Issues and Finance

GRA 6567 Global Sustainability Issues and Finance

Course code: 
GRA 6567
Course coordinator: 
Kjell Jørgensen
Course name in Norwegian: 
Global Sustainability Issues and Finance
Product category: 
MSc in Sustainable Finance
2023 Autumn
Active status: 
Level of study: 
Teaching language: 
Course type: 
One semester

The course provides a broad introduction to the sustainability, climate change and social equity issues the world faces. It surveys the facts, values and challenges of sustainable growth. The focus is on the trade-offs that society and humanity at large face, and the role of business, financial markets, governments and regulation in achieving the UN 2030 Sustainable Developments Goals (SDG). The course provides a rigorous analysis of global sustainability related issues, covering the relevant theories of climate change, externalities and public goods, international cooperation mechanisms. The course’s central theme is role of financial markets, and financial management in addressing ESG concerns, and how the different sectors of the financial markets (equity, fixed income, banking and insurance) are incorporating sustainability issues.

Standard finance and economic models ignore environmental and social concerns. Nature and its services are assumed to be freely available. However, the world’s current situation clearly demonstrate that ecological resources are limited.  Business, finance and economic models of the future must therefore incorporate social equity concerns and scarcity of environmental resources if they are to be useful tools to address sustainability issues.

This introductory course gives students insight into; how can businesses internalise their footprint in society? How can Corporate Governance be adapted to accommodate a more sustainable business practice? How can long-term institutional owners contribute to making businesses reach their long-term sustainable development goals? What will this have to say for choice of strategies and business models? These questions and more will be addressed in this course - all in a global context.

Learning outcomes - Knowledge

The students by the end of the course will

  • Understand the global and local sustainability challenges our society are facing; how economics and finance play a central role in finding solutions.
  • Understand the different levels of sustainable finance; from finance as usual to sustainable finance 3.0.
  • Understand the concept of externalities; how they can be addressed through internalization or regulations, and the limits of either approaches.
  • Understand the need for internationally coordinated regulation and disclosure of companies’ practices.
  • Understand the role and limitations of financial markets and financial instruments in addressing  sustainability, challenges
  • Understand how a company’s corporate governance can contribute to it reaching its long-term sustainable development goals.
  • Understand the impact sustainable development goals have on choice of business strategies, and how ESG can be fully integrated in companies business models.
    Learning outcomes - Skills
    • Read and understand scientific studies and articles of the various disciplines that relate to sustainability issues.
    • Develop rigorous and holistic arguments regarding the sustainability goals, based on economic and financial theories as well as practical political and feasibility considerations.
    • Identify externalities and whether and the extent to which they can be internalized.
    • Evaluate companies’ corporate governance and how it may hinder or contribute to addressing sustainability concerns.
    • Evaluate companies’ choice of strategy and business model and how it reflects both the opportunities and challenges of sustainability.
    • Apply updated financial models incorporating ESG concerns to evaluate financial instruments.
    General Competence
    • Clear understanding of the main global sustainability issues and the different approaches to address them.
    • Ability to recognise and analyse practical problems of sustainable development and to propose achievable, technologically appropriate courses of action, based on sound financial and economic analysis.
    Course content
    • The history of our understanding of global sustainability from Hans Carl von Carlowitz, through the Brundtland Report and the Stern Report, to the UN SDGs.
    • The challenges of sustainability: natural resources, climate, inequality, poverty.
    • The different aspects or dimensions of sustainability: Sustainable development, sustainable finance and sustainable business models.
    • Externalities, internalization and public goods
    • The role of finance and financial markets to address sustainability issues
    • The different levels or stages of sustainable finance; from finance as usual to sustainable finance 3.0.
    • ESG and its integration through integrated value and reporting
    • Corporate governance and sustainability
    • Strategy and business models’ role in the transition to sustainable business.
    • Investments and long-term value creation
    • Banking and new assessments of lending
    • The insurance market and long-term risk
    • International political economy and the environment
    Teaching and learning activities
    • Lectures on economic and finance theory 
    • Workshops and student presentations on a variety of sustainability issues
    Software tools
    No specified computer-based tools are required.
    Additional information

    The current reading list is preliminary and incomplete. Further articles and readings may be assigned at the start and during the course of the semester.

    The exam for this course has been changed starting academic year 2023/2024. The course now has two exam codes instead of one. It is not possible to retake the old version of the exam. Please note new exam codes in the Exam section of the course description. 

    It is the student’s own responsibility to obtain any information provided in class.

    Honour Code
    Academic honesty and trust are important to all of us as individuals, and represent values that are encouraged and promoted by the honour code system. This is a most significant university tradition. Students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the ideals of the honour code system, to which the faculty are also deeply committed. Any violation of the honour code will be dealt with in accordance with BI’s procedures for cheating. These issues are a serious matter to everyone associated with the programs at BI and are at the heart of the honour code and academic integrity. If you have any questions about your responsibilities under the honour code, please ask.


    All courses in the Masters programme will assume that students have fulfilled the admission requirements for the programme. In addition, courses in second, third and/or fourth semester can have specific prerequisites and will assume that students have followed normal study progression. For double degree and exchange students, please note that equivalent courses are accepted.


    Deviations in teaching and exams may occur if external conditions or unforeseen events call for this.

    Exam categoryWeightInvigilationDurationSupport materialsGroupingComment exam
    Exam category:
    Form of assessment:
    Written submission
    Exam code:
    GRA 65672
    Grading scale:
    Grading rules:
    Internal examiner
    Examination when next scheduled course
    60Yes 3 Hour(s)
    • BI-approved exam calculator
    • Simple calculator
    • Bilingual dictionary
    Individual Individual written examination under supervision
    Exam category:
    Form of assessment:
    Written submission
    Exam code:
    GRA 65673
    Grading scale:
    Grading rules:
    Internal examiner
    Examination when next scheduled course
    40No 2 Week(s)Group (2 - 3)Written home assignment
    Exam category:Submission
    Form of assessment:Written submission
    Grouping (size):Individual
    Support materials:
    • BI-approved exam calculator
    • Simple calculator
    • Bilingual dictionary
    Duration: 3 Hour(s)
    Comment:Individual written examination under supervision
    Exam code:GRA 65672
    Grading scale:ECTS
    Resit:Examination when next scheduled course
    Exam category:Submission
    Form of assessment:Written submission
    Grouping (size):Group (2-3)
    Support materials:
    Duration: 2 Week(s)
    Comment:Written home assignment
    Exam code:GRA 65673
    Grading scale:ECTS
    Resit:Examination when next scheduled course
    Type of Assessment: 
    Ordinary examination
    All exams must be passed to get a grade in this course.
    Total weight: 
    Student workload
    36 Hour(s)
    Prepare for teaching
    72 Hour(s)
    Student's own work with learning resources
    30 Hour(s)
    Group work / Assignments
    30 Hour(s)
    Sum workload: 

    A course of 1 ECTS credit corresponds to a workload of 26-30 hours. Therefore a course of 6 ECTS credits corresponds to a workload of at least 160 hours.