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


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
Climate Engineering – the attempt to ward off human-induced global warming with technical interventions – is associated with numerous risks. Not only the climatic consequences, but also the … 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.