State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School


New Online Option for Sustainable Finance Certification Launches Next Year

Students complete four online courses and a five-day residency in New York

The Earth Institute’s Professional Certification in Sustainable Finance is going online next academic year.

The creation of the online program stems from the success of the certification, which the Earth Institute and the School of Professional Studies have offered at Columbia’s Morningside campus since 2015. Starting in the fall 2020 semester, students will be able to complete the program by enrolling in either online or on-campus courses, or both.

The online option ensures that this access to advanced sustainable finance practice is not limited to those in the New York City area.

“In the last year, we have worked to ensure that the online certification has the same courses, the same faculty and the same focus on integrating the learning community and alumni network that is a hallmark of the Sustainable Finance certificate. We expect that the online training in the certification will be immediately applicable to sustainable finance practitioners in their day jobs, wherever they are located,” said Satyajit Bose, associate professor of practice at the School of Professional Studies, and associate director of the Master of Science in Sustainability Management Program.

The online certification reflects the growing interest in sustainable finance worldwide. Responsible and impact investing is growing, and innovative financing methods are being developed to fund the transition to a cleaner, low-carbon economy in developed and emerging economies. Courses cover the special risks and opportunities revealed by the integration of environmental, social, and governance factors in capital markets, innovative financing methods, sustainable project and infrastructure finance, responsible and impact investing, green and carbon accounting, and environmental markets.

The Earth Institute has been a pioneer in this emerging field by preparing students to meet the growing demand for professionals who understand and can integrate the fundamentals of both corporate sustainability and financial analysis.

“The move to a low-carbon economy challenges conventional investment wisdom, compelling investors to refine and redefine their investment strategies,” said Dazzle Bhujwala, ’18. “Sustainable Finance is a hands-on program that offers next-generation solutions to today’s most pressing challenges. It equips students to demonstrate how investments in sustainability-driven businesses lead to improved financial performance and create a resilient long-term investment portfolio.”

The Sustainable Finance certification is geared toward professionals with a strong interest in sustainability and finance. It is well-suited to practitioners in one or both of these areas, who desire formal training in sustainable finance, but also to professionals who aspire to enter this field. The program equips graduates with the practical information and tools they need to understand the impact of environmental sustainability in corporate financial management and in financial markets, and to enable them to prepare for and manage the consequences of both.

The certification may be taken as a complement to other graduate degree programs, including the Master of Science in Sustainability Management, or it can be taken as a stand-alone program.

The certification requires the successful completion of four courses, or 12 points, as well as a five-day residency in New York. In academic year 2020-2021, the online course offerings include:

  • Financing the Clean Energy Economy
  • Sustainable Investing and Economic Growth
  • Impact Finance for Sustainability Practitioners
  • Energy and Sustainable Development
  • Solar Project Development

Students who pursue the certification on campus may study on a full-time or part-time basis and select from the following evening classes:

  • Sustainable Finance
  • Global Environmental Markets
  • Cost Benefit Analysis
  • Energy Markets and Innovation
  • Financing Natural Infrastructure
  • Accounting, Finance, and Modeling of Sustainable Investments
  • The Business and Ecology of Sustainable Forestry

All of these courses are taught by instructors who are both expert faculty, and leaders in the fields of sustainable finance, economics, accounting, corporate sustainability, and environmental markets, and risk management.

“What does sustainability mean in the context of finance?” asks Professor Satyajit Bose in the recently published book, The Financial Ecosystem: The Role of Finance in Achieving Sustainability. He goes on to write, “It means identifying the repeatable sources of return through a holistic understanding of the notion of capital, one that includes natural and human capital in addition to produced capital. How does this understanding of sustainability create opportunity? By isolating undervalued sources of return which might be expected to be more widely valued in future.”

Visit the program website for more information. The application deadline is May 15, 2020 for fall enrollment. Please contact Mariví Perdomo Caba if you would like to visit campus, or join an upcoming information session.

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Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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