I. The Policy Framework for the transition to sustainability

This Section introduces the basic concepts of Sustainable development and covers the EU policy framework for the transition to sustainability and its level of implementation into national policy agenda, including among others:

  • the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • the UN Agenda 2030
  • European Green Deal
  • The EU Taxonomy
  • The National energy and climate plan
  • The Fit for 55
  • Climate Delegate Act
  • RePower EU

Section discusses the level of implementation into national policy agenda. It also provides an overview of cutting-edge scientific approaches towards developing pathways that enable the transition to climate neutrality and climate resilience, by showcasing AE4RiA and associated research institute’s initiatives, projects and Case Study implementations in the following fields:

  1. Sustainable Blue Growth
  2. Water Energy Food Nexus
  3. Climate Change Mitigation & Adaptation and Sustainable Finance

(6 hours)

II. ESG (Environmental Social Governance)

This section covers the basic concepts of Corporate Sustainability Reporting and ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) metrics. The policy framework and current developments (Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive) are introduced, together with the corporate Risk and Opportunities related to climate change. Important topics of Sustainable Finance and Green Taxes are also covered, with an emphasis in the state of play for the Greek Economy.

(9 hours)

 Climate Change: Risks and Opportunities

Climate change impacts our society by disrupting the functions of natural, economic and social systems. This disruption affects food supplies, industry supply chains and financial markets, damages infrastructure and cities, and harms human health and global development. However, what we can do to mitigate and adapt to climate change? How businesses and organizations can be adequately equipped and be prepared in this transition? What are the challenges and opportunities arising? This course focuses on the following objectives from the corporate perspective: the concepts and "market & regulatory" environments related to the climate change, the main steps that the market needs to take to align with the requirements of basic climate change standards (Task Force on Climate Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and SBTi) and the key challenges and opportunities for businesses to reach their climate goals.

The course combines plenary sessions and small group assignments covering topics about climate change, carbon footprint calculation, the Climate Change “Rulebook” and the Net Zero Journey by setting science-based targets.

 ESG Reporting

An ever-growing proportion of companies around the EU and the world engage in ESG reporting, that is a communication of their performance across the sustainability pillars (Environmental, Social and Governance). This process underscores the relationship between financial and non-financial performance and enables external stakeholders to better understand the value of a given organization. In this section participants will familiarize with the importance of the ESG reporting, acknowledge the different standards, frameworks and regulations and get a better understanding of the EU Action Plan.

 ESG Greening the Tax System

A green tax is a tax imposed on environment polluting goods or activities to create dis-incentives for human behavior associated with environmental degradation. Green taxes make polluters pay in accordance with the 'polluter pays' principle, with the price internalizing the cost of negative environmental externalities. Course participants will come to terms with the goals, design, and implementation of green taxes in the EU. In addition, they will develop a critical assessment of the practice of green taxes in the case of Greece in the context of the National Climate Law and the Resilience and recovery Plan (Greece 2.0).

 ESG Academy: Focusing the “S” around ESG - Social Impact & Social Sustainability

The lecture introduces the “S” element of the ESGs. Social topics relate to matters such as equality and human rights, diversity and inclusion, labour practices and consumer protection. Organizations need to acknowledge and build strong relationships with their

employees, suppliers, customers and the communities in which they operate. To have positive social impacts, organizations will need to consider living wages, supply chain labor standards, equal opportunities for all employees, health and safety, protection of vulnerable customer groups, and indigenous peoples' rights. Participants, will obtain critical knowledge related to the intangible aspects of the Social Element of ESGs in relation the:

  • Links to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and DEI metrics
  • Gender Equality and Equal pay: Regulations, trends and key methodologies
  • Skills Ecosystem: Framework, Gap Analysis and Upskilling/ Reskilling Plans

 ESG & SDGs – Metrics and Dashboards

The SDGs are becoming increasingly important for companies and investors, as they are ‘an articulation of the world’s most pressing environmental, social and economic issues and, as such, act as a definitive list of the material ESG (environmental, social and governance) perspectives that should be considered and expected to increase the value of companies. This lecture outlines the integration of the SDGs in Corporate Sustainability Reporting, in line with the EU CSR Directive. The lecture offers an insight to the extent work of AE4RIA in SDG/ ESG metrics and Dashboards and provides the necessary insights and methodologies to

  • Downscale the UN SDSN SDG frameworks to the corporate level
  • Quantify tangible and Intangible ESG kPIs
  • Quantify SDG KPIs and targets
  • Map ESG and SDG frameworks
  • Integrate Ecosystem Valuation to Quantify SDG/ESG benefits and costs

AE4RIA SDGs-ESGs-Quantification-and-Acceleration

III. Selected Topics in Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Biodiversity

This section provides a collection of selected topics in the field of climate change, sustainable development, biodiversity, digital transition and innovation incubation and acceleration. The topics are structured around the Six SDG UN SDSN Transformations namely:  

  • Education, Gender, and Inequality
  • Health, Wellbeing, and Demography  
  • Energy Decarbonization and Sustainable Industry
  • Sustainable Food, Land, Water, and Oceans
  • Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • Digital Revolution for Sustainable Development

All topics offer a thorough understanding of environmental and sustainability issues supported with the presentations of real-world projects and cutting-edge tools.

(18 hours)

 WEF Nexus and Land Use Modelling

Being aware of the interconnectedness and mutual causality of the climate system and land surface processes, and the overall relevance for the Water-Energy-Food Nexus (WEF), this lecture will consider in high detail the relevance of land use dynamics and changes in land use and water management on various scales, i.e., ranging from continental to the river basin scale. The WEF nexus is really essential and helps to improve understanding and systematic analysis of the interactions between the natural environment and human activities in these three sectors. Also, systems thinking on the resource nexus will be utilized through modeling and visualization tools for sustainable societies and institutions. Appropriate connections and references to AE4RIA projects will be given for a better understanding of the topic.

  Sustainable Infrastructure & Transportation

This course aims to provide an understanding of transportation systems and infrastructure at a national, European, and international context through outlining transport strategies, policies, technologies, applications, and smarter choices for increasing sustainability.

Methods and approaches for analyzing sustainable transport interchanges, which facilitate intermodal transport, are presented, such as safety analysis and strategic environmental assessment. The course provides knowledge on planning and operations of sustainable transport systems and their analysis and evaluation through various measures of performance. The course is supplemented by a series of case studies to demonstrate the design of medium to large-scale transport infrastructure in the European Union.

In addition, the course presents essential transportation approaches that are used at EU level and the importance of forecasting towards estimating transport impacts and successfully delivering transport plans. The components which affect traveling and transportation system performance are identified. The sustainability principles addressed by the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs) and Sustainable Urban Logistics Plans (SULPs) are discussed and explained.

The last module of the course focuses on enabling trainees to understand the basic decision-making methodologies by exploring different characteristics and features of each one and demonstrate how these can be applied in real life problems. Towards this direction, two ready-to-be-implemented tools enabling stakeholders to make the right decision are presented: a) a measure generator tool for sustainable urban mobility and b) a multi-stakeholder multi-criteria decision-making tool, developed for the assessment of alternative urban passenger and freight transport measures, respectively.

  Digital Transition

The lecture approached sustainability issues (Climate change, Agrifood systems) from a data science perspective. The need for adaptation to the climate change is an extremely complex process, with multiple variables. An adequate methodology is needed to address the increasing complexity and the systemic interdependencies. Although technological development had been considered being in contrast with the principles of sustainability, in truth technology can have a positive impact on sustainable development. Data science has a prominent role in this, as the analysis of data can bring to light both, hidden challenges but also opportunities. In recent years there are efforts for exploiting open data to provide meaningful services for the environmental and climate communities. Services delivered by the European open data infrastructure OpenAIRE are used for better understanding the science and technology landscape for climate.

  Ιnnovation Incubation and Acceleration

The lecture’s core topic is “From a green idea to a sustainable business” and will focus on providing the participants with the basic knowledge and skills needed to start exploring the potential of such an idea, by identifying their first potential market and customers.

This module has been based on the “EIT Climate-KIC’s Climatelaunchpad” and “MIT’s 24 Steps to a Successful Startup” methodologies.

At the end of the course, participants will be able to:

  • Articulate what their business idea is all about
  • Perform market segmentation
  • Identify their Beachhead Market
  • Identify their customer’s needs
  • Articulate their competitive advantage

Define their:

  • Total Addressable Market (TAM)
  • Cost of Customer Acquisition (COCA)
  • Customer’s Life Time Value (LTV)
  • Understand the need to test their business assumption
  • Define the next steps they need to take

Lectures and relevant videos of start-up pitches will be employed, but most importantly the participants will get to work on their own and with their peers. Participants will be split into teams to work on their ideas and come up with innovative business ideas. Discussions will be instigated in the class to let participants introduce their own perceptions on the motives and limitations involving the implementation of the discussed tools and methods and suggest solutions to overcome impediments.

A connection with major AE4RIA projects on innovation incubation and acceleration will be given:

  Circular Economy

Circular economy (CE) models have replaced the linear models of productions and they are now seen as a way to increase the sustainability of our economic systems. Introduction to Circularity Thinking and how to develop circular economy strategies through a step-by-step guide are part of this lecture. Concepts of systems thinking, life cycle thinking, resource management, structural waste and value creation are essential concepts that are being used in the lecture to provide the framework and to facilitate CE oriented innovation processes.

The importance of CE for businesses will be given through real-life examples and case studies, and AE4RIA projects. A list of AE4RIA’s CE related projects is provided below:

  Climate and Energy Modelling

Successfully treading sustainable pathways will require sophisticated support from advanced digital technologies, including artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data and data science. Climate and Energy Modeling combines mathematical tools, data science and multi-dimensional research to deliver science-based projections for a broad range of variables (biophysical, environmental, economic, and social). In this section, participants will be introduced to the basic tenets of Climate and Energy Modeling and the role of Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) for the realization of sustainable pathways. The course will include real-time applications utilizing a set of climate models and will delve on the work based on Climate and Energy Modeling in the Global Climate Hub.

  Systems Innovation Approach for Sustainable Transformations

The notion of Systemic Approach provides uses holistic thinking seeks to understand phenomena as intimately interconnected and comprehensible with reference to the whole system or environment they form part of. The System Innovation Approach is based on interconnected set of innovations, where each influences the other; with innovation both in the parts of the system and in the ways in which they interconnect. This section provides participants with the analytical tools to understand the importance and implementation of systems innovation in the context of sustainable transformation and the pathways towards aephoria. With the use of case studies from the AE4RIA network portfolio, participants will have the chance to understand the pivotal role of diverse stakeholder mapping, envisioning future goals and collectively creating sustainable pathways both in theory and practice.

  Sustainable Finance – Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Social Cost Benefit Analysis (SCBA)

The valuation of Ecosystem Services is an important methodology aimed at achieving environmental, economic and sustainability goals. Assigning monetary values to environmental assets allows for the evaluation of policies towards sustainability and provides policymakers with the necessary analytical tools.  This section outlines the main valuation techniques and provides a critical assessment of economic valuation and cost-benefit analysis germane to sustainability projects. Participants will be able to identify use and non-use values through the implementation of up-to-date empirical techniques with the use of practical examples from the work of the AE4RIA network.

Climate change, environmental degradation, and progress in the field of SDG requires a financial industry which is more resilient and transformed in the face of excess risks associated with financing sustainability-driven projects. Increased uncertainty and extrenalities inherent in delivering SDGs warrant a transformation of the international financial system and an elevated role of multilateral development banks. This section presents the main challenges facing the global financial system in the quest of funding structural transformations towards sustainable pathways. Participants will familiarize with novel financial instruments and the material role of ESG and sustainability record for firm financial performance.

IV. Discussion Session - Presentations

During the lifetime of the course, students are assigned to work on selected case studies, using frameworks, tools and concepts covered in sessions under the three thematic areas.

Assessment method includes an individual written exam (weightage 50%) and a written group assignment (weightage 50%).

 (3 Hours)

Măsuri de sănătate publică – Primăria Comunei Bălan

Bibliography - Reference Sources

Policy Reports