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


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
Our current use of soil and land threatens the viability of ecosystems and livelihoods. The year 2015 offers tremendous opportunities to address these challenges: the United Nations General … Read more
The commons are a fundamental safety net for many rural families. However, communities all over the world face involuntary loss of commons due to increasing pressure on natural resources, land … Read more
The kick-off of the Potsdam Summer School on the “Arctic in the Anthropocene” set the tone for two weeks of jointly exploring policy and science questions in a multidisciplinary way. Talks by … Read more
Much of the water in the rivers of Kyrgyzstan comes from melting snow and glaciers in the Pamir and Tian Shan Mountains. Since the 1970s, the ice masses there have been shrinking at a much faster … 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.