Federica Doni (University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy)
Andrea Gasperini (Italian Association of Financial Analysts, Italy)
João Torres Soares (Universidade de Passo Fundo, Brazil)

SDG13 – Climate Action: Combating Climate Change and its Impacts

ISBN: 978-1-78756-918-8, eISBN: 978-1-78756-915-7

Publication date: 28 April 2020


Doni, F., Gasperini, A. and Soares, J.T. (2020), "Prelims", SDG13 – Climate Action: Combating Climate Change and its Impacts (Concise Guides to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. i-xiv.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020 Federica Doni, Andrea Gasperini, João Torres Soares

Half Title Page

SDG13 – Climate Action

Series Page

Concise Guides to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Series Editors

Walter Leal Filho

World Sustainable Development Research and Transfer Centre, Hamburg University of Applied Sciences

Mark Mifsud

Centre for Environmental Education and Research, University of Malta

This series comprises 17 short books, each examining one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The series provides an integrated assessment of the SDGs from an economic, social, environmental and cultural perspective. Books in the series critically analyse and assess the SDGs from a multi-disciplinary and a multi-regional standpoint, with each title demonstrating innovation in theoretical and empirical analysis, methodology and application of the SDG concerned.

Titles in this series have a particular focus on the means to implement the SDGs, and each one includes a short introduction to the SDG in question along with a synopsis of their implications on the economic, social, environmental and cultural domains.

Title Page

SDG13 – Climate Action

Combating Climate Change and its Impacts


Federica Doni

University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy

Andrea Gasperini

Italian Association of Financial Analysts, Italy

João Torres Soares

Universidade de Passo Fundo, Brazil

United Kingdom – North America – Japan – India – Malaysia – China

Copyright Page

Emerald Publishing Limited

Howard House, Wagon Lane, Bingley BD16 1WA, UK

First edition 2020

Copyright © 2020 Federica Doni, Andrea Gasperini, João Torres Soares.

Published under exclusive licence by Emerald Publishing Limited.

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No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without either the prior written permission of the publisher or a licence permitting restricted copying issued in the UK by The Copyright Licensing Agency and in the USA by The Copyright Clearance Center. No responsibility is accepted for the accuracy of information contained in the text, illustrations or advertisements. The opinions expressed in these chapters are not necessarily those of the Author or the publisher.

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN: 978-1-78756-918-8 (Print)

ISBN: 978-1-78756-915-7 (Online)

ISBN: 978-1-78756-917-1 (Epub)


About the Authors vii
Acknowledgements ix
Executive Summary xi
1. Introduction 1
2. What are the Global Sustainable Development Goals? 3
2.1. Introduction 3
2.2. The Implementation of Agenda 2030 and the SDGs: A Global and National Perspective 7
2.3. Actions to Implement the SDGs 10
2.4. The Calculation of the SDG Indicator at ‘Country’ Level 12
3. What is the SDG 13? 21
3.1. SDG 13 and the Main Focus on Climate Change 21
3.2. SDG 13 Targets and Indicators 22
4. Climate Change Trends: Understanding SDG 13 Local Agenda and Key Interactions Frameworks 31
4.1. Climate Change Agreement Signed in December 2015 in Paris (COP21) 31
4.2. Interactions Frameworks 32
5. Practical Tools and Mechanisms for SDG 13 Implementation 37
5.1. Setting the Local Agenda: Governments and Public Sector 37
5.2. Localisation of the SDGs 40
5.3. Inclusiveness and the Participatory Approach 45
5.4. Private Sector and Business Context 46
5.5. Planning for SDG 13 Implementation: Climate Risk Assessment 47
5.6. Innovative Financial Mechanisms: Green and Sustainable Finance 56
5.7. ESG and Sustainable Finance 61
5.8. Mobilising Green and Sustainable Finance 69
6. Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting on SDG 13 Implementation 73
6.1. New Trends in Corporate Reporting 73
6.2. From Voluntary to Compulsory Disclosures 74
6.3. SDGs and Global Reporting Initiative 77
6.4. SDGs and Integrated Reporting 82
7. Conclusions 85
Appendix 89
References 97
Index 117

About the Authors

Federica Doni, PhD, is an Associate Professor in Business Administration at the Department of Business and Law, University of Milano-Bicocca. She teaches financial accounting and business analysis, business administration and fiscal and business planning and consultancy. Her main research interests include international accounting, intangibles and intellectual capital, integrated and sustainability reporting, corporate governance, accounting history and business valuation. She attends as a speaker at many international conferences, such as EIASM workshops and the annual EAA congress. She is also a Member of the Italian Association of Financial Analysts and Consultants, British Accounting and Finance Association (UK), European Accounting Association, European Academy of Management, the Centre for Social & Environmental Accounting Research (University of St. Andrews, UK), <IR> Academic Network (IIRC, London, UK) and PRI Academic Network (London, UK).

Andrea Gasperini is a Chartered Accountant and an Auditor in Milan, AIAF Member (Italian Association for Financial Analysis) since 1993 and the Head of Sustainability and ‘ESG Observatory’ for AIAF, which deals with all topics about sustainable finance and a strong proponent that climate change impacts financial investment decisions. Since February 2019 he has been a Member of the European Lab Project Task Force on Climate-related Reporting in European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG). His professional commitments concern all matters related to sustainability, particularly the risks and opportunities connected to a transitioning to a low-carbon economy resilient to climate change1. His other expertise includes financial analysis of the methodology to identify and communicate the intangible assets and liabilities, the environmental, social and governance factors the GRI Sustainability Report and the Integrated Report according to the IIRC framework of the German Council Sustainability Code and the Sustainable Development Goals Agenda 2030 UN. He is the author and co-author of many books and a lot of essays, published in several management and economic journals about sustainable finance and intangible assets. He has been a keynote speaker at the university and conferences planned on these fields by national and international organisations.

João Torres Soares completed his MSc degree in Engineering at the Post-Graduate Programme in Civil and Environmental Engineering (concentration area of infrastructure and environment) from the University of Passo Fundo. He is a Postgraduate in Environmental Law and Economics at the European University Institute – Florence and École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales – Paris; and in Business Reception Areas Management at the University of Aveiro – Portugal. Working as a Consultant, he worked in business strategy and local and regional developments. He held management positions in the public sector and in private non-profit institutions. He is a Co-organiser of The Plankton Symposium’s first and third editions and of the First World Environmental Education Congress.


Andrea Gasperini would like to thank the Italian Association for Financial Analysis (AIAF) for the collaboration over the years about research projects on intangible assets and the evolution of knowledge about the intellectual capital. More recently, special thanks is given for the support received for all initiatives on the topic of sustainability by the Working Groups on ‘Legislative Decree 254/2016 and non-financial information’ and ‘Sustainability and ESG information’ through the publication of the AIAF magazine and white papers. The last one is focussed on the issues of climate risks and the environmental, social and governance information to which there are some references for a broader study of the topics discussed in this book.

Executive Summary2

This book aims to explain the Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs) approach for sustainable development by analysing in depth one of the most important sustainable goals, that is, SDG 13 ‘Combating climate change. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its consequences’. This goal constitutes one of the most effective actions to protect and preserve our planet from the consequences of climate change. The concept of ‘sustainable development’ that was defined by the World Commission on Environment and Development (UNWCED, 1987) should ensure prosperity and environmental protection without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. It therefore combines economic development with social inclusion and environmental sustainability. The SDGs targets enable governments, companies and investors to monitor their own progress in achieving these goals, which include ending poverty, eliminating hunger, addressing gender equality and combating the effects of climate change. According to UN statistics, the change in global weather conditions is the major threat to sustainable development, such that 12 out of 17 SDGs require action on climate change to address the main subject of the goal, and Goal 13 is specifically dedicated to climate actions directed at reducing emissions and building climate resilience. The achievement of the objectives can be affected by the possibility of obtaining data from new sources that allow for more detailed and ‘granular’ information. To doing this, an interesting index, that is, an SDG (‘unofficial SDG index’) indicator was described and calculated at ‘country’ level. After a brief analysis on the SDGs approach, the main focus is on SDG 13 and climate change. To address climate change, countries adopted the Paris Agreement at the COP21 (December 2015) and are committed to achieve five targets and eight indicators related to the SDG 13. SDG 13 requires urgent action on climate change that is central to delivering sustainable development (UNDP, 2017). Tackling climate change through adaptation and mitigation can represent a great tool to drive sustainable development outcomes in the key areas of Agenda 2030. It is worth noting that climate change is ‘a cross-cutting issue’ to be addressed in order to achieve a successful implementation of all 17 SDGs. Regarding the specific actions it is important to adopt climate measures in three key action areas: that is, climate change adaptation, zero-carbon development and scaled-up climate finance. The agreement on climate change (COP21) by 196 states invited all countries to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments necessary for a sustainable future, low-carbon economy resilient to climate change.

Actions to achieve the SDG 13 targets have to take into account the interactions between SDG 13 and other SDGs through an overall consideration of synergies and potential connections among different sustainable goals. An important step is to consider and evaluate some practical tools and mechanisms for SDG 13 implementation, especially focussing on setting the local agenda emphasising the role played by governments and public sector. An interesting analysis has been carried out by the Climate Action Tracker and Climate Transparency on both the content of intended nationally determined contribution (what governments propose to do) and current policies (what governments are actually doing) on climate mitigation in G20 countries. From this perspective, it is becoming crucial to strengthen the accountability system in order to measure progress on sustainable development to complement gross domestic product. Another important factor is represented by some public management tools such as budgeting practices and procedures to foster greater civic participation and more inclusive societies. To stimulate awareness raising, it is not enough to inform citizens about the existence of the SDGs; it is also important to act on empowering them to participate in the achievement of the SDGs in their daily lives by adopting an open participatory approach. Public sector and governments can play a crucial role to the achievement of SDG 13 but also private organisations and companies can support countries in the transition to a low-carbon economy. Companies have to communicate – to investors, credit and sustainability rating agencies, insurance companies, credit institutions and other stakeholders – further standardised information on their exposure to climatic risks. For implementing the SDG 13, companies and private sector have to adopt a climate risks assessment, as a growing number of investors are aware that climate change may affect their financial performance, if they are not able to evaluate correctly the risks. To better identify the information required by investors, asset managers, financial analysts, lenders and insurance underwriters, and to adequately assess climate risks and opportunities, the Financial Stability Board ( has set up a working group called Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures whose task is to promote voluntary and coherent financial communication about climate change (FSB, 2015a, 2015b). This initiative supported the Financing Sustainable Growth Action Plan adopted by the European Parliament and the European Council in March 2018. It represents a roadmap with specific measures and related deadlines with the aim of (i) redirecting capital flows towards sustainable investments in order to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth, (ii) managing financial risks arising from climate change, resource depletion, environmental degradation and social issues and (iii) promoting transparency and long-term vision of economic and financial activities (DB Climate Change Advisors, 2012).

This roadmap is part of a wider European initiative on sustainable development that placed environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues at the heart of the financial system to support the transformation of the European economy into a greener, more resilient and circular system. Clear indicators of ESG topics has therefore begun to be requested by institutional investors who increasingly take into account the integration of ESG metrics to jointly evaluate the value creation of companies and sustainability (Cotter & Naja, 2011). For interpreting sustainable finance, different tools can be considered such as Exclusionary Screening, Best in Class Selection, Engagement and active ownership, Thematic Investing, Impact Investing and ESG Integration. Not only financial industry but also business leaders should identify essential resources and related threats that have impact on running their businesses, while looking at and accounting for the environmental and social impacts of corporate activities. These practices are increasingly considered as strategic tools that allow CEOs and a company’s management to learn about risks related to the external and internal environment, and to design tailor-made strategies for adapting to those potential threats and turn them into opportunities. Corporate reporting may represent an important tool to effectively communicate SDGs to external stakeholders by adopting different frameworks, such as Global Reporting Initiative standards and SDGs Compass Guide through some specific SDG 13 indicators. Another important challenge in corporate reporting and SDGs disclosure can be supported by integrated reporting (Gasperini & Doni, 2017c; IIRC, 2013). Finally, measures and actions to prevent and combat climate change represent an important challenge for all countries, at a global and national level.



Appendix provides an overview of definitions of climate change (pp. 89–96).


This book is the result of collaborative analysis: Chapter 1 and Appendix are written by João Torres Soares; Section 2.1, Section 4.1, Sections 5.4–5.8 and Sections 6.1–6.3 are written by Andrea Gasperini; and Sections 2.1–2.3, Chapter 3, Section 4.2, Sections 5.1–5.3, Section 6.4 and Chapter 7 are written by Federica Doni.