Science for sustainability: translating knowledge into action

Our progression toward sustainable development is confronting us with unprecedented challenges. The Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), a center for transdisciplinary and transformative research and thought, believes these challenges are too complex to be resolved with strategies we already know. Read more


Researchers at the IASS have recently been investigating air quality in Berlin from a new perspective – their bicycle saddles. Their measurements help us to better understand the sources and … Read more
Long-term scenarios are an important part of the debate around the energy transition and are often seen as a useful tool for planning and decision-making. At the same time, they are sometimes … Read more
The 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro raised many hopes. With Agenda 21, governments gave themselves a mandate for action to prevent the further deterioration of humanity’s situation, the … Read more
Most electricity generation technologies use a lot of water at every stage of the process – from the mining of raw materials to cooling in power plants. Given rapidly increasing energy requirements … Read more
The global ocean is at the front line of climate change. The ocean – by virtue of its absorptive and buffering capacities – has played a pivotal role in reducing the impacts of growing carbon … Read more
The IASS’s status in the initiative “Mitigating Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs) and Other Pollutants from Brick Production” of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived … Read more

Research Clusters

Global Contract for Sustainability (GCS)

Director: Prof. Dr. Klaus Töpfer - GCS focuses on the societal and political transformations that must take place if we are to achieve greater sustainability. It pursues three priorities - Sustainability governance, Transformation processes, Cultural diversity and sustainable economic activity.

Earth, Energy and Environment - E³

Director: Prof. Dr. Carlo Rubbia - E³ focuses on a secure, environmentally-friendly energy supply. It investigates the generation of affordable and available renewable energies, super-conducting electric lines for long-distance energy transport from production to consumption, and technologies for progressive decarbonization and closing the carbon cycle, while assuming CO₂ to be an asset and resource.

Sustainable Interactions with the Atmosphere (SIWA)

Director: Prof. Dr. Mark Lawrence - SIWA explores how to reduce human influences on the atmosphere, such as air pollution and global warming, and their consequences for human health, agriculture and ecosystems. Enquiry focuses on short-lived climate-warming pollutants and the implications and risks of climate engineering.