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What we work on

Transformative Sustainability Research

The Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) conducts research with the goal of understanding, advancing, and guiding processes of societal change towards sustainable development. Our researchers collaborate with diverse actors from science, policymaking and public administration as well as business and civil society to develop a common understanding of sustainability challenges and generate potential solutions. The Institute pursues a research approach that is transformative, transdisciplinary, and co-creative.

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News

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Study

Why Germany’s Coal Compromise Failed to End the Debate

Can expert commissions develop solutions for controversial issues that will enjoy broad democratic support? A team of researchers from the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) has analysed the work of Germany’s “Coal Exit Commission” using a set of new criteria. While the authors view positively the Commission’s success in reaching a compromise, they criticise its failure to deliver an outcome that promotes the common good, particularly with respect to the high cost of the coal exit and its unambitious contribution towards Germany’s climate goals, as well as the lack of public participation.

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Interview

IASS Expert to Advise Citizens’ Assembly on Climate

160 randomly selected citizens, twelve meetings, 25 scientists from the climate and social sciences: Germany’s first Citizens’ Assembly on Climate has commenced its work under the patronage of former German President Horst Köhler. This “Council of 160” will develop recommendations for Germany’s climate policy with the support of a board of experts led by Professor Ortwin Renn from the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam. In this interview, Prof. Renn explains what the Citizens’ Assembly is setting out to achieve.

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Science Council

IASS Research Focus and Concept Hit the Mark

The German Council of Science and Humanities (Wissenschaftsrat) has presented and published the findings of its evaluation of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam. In its report, the Science Council highlights the scientific and socio-political relevance of the Institute’s research focus and concept as well as its unique role in Germany’s research landscape. According to the report, the IASS has developed an impressive profile as a provider of knowledge-based advice for policymakers and societal actors.

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Dossiers

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Brazil: Strengthening Resilience in Times of Crisis Dossier

With 200 million citizens of diverse ethnicities, Brazil is the largest and most populous nation in Latin America. Brazil is also home to most of world’s largest rainforest: the Amazon. The Brazilian economy is the ninth-largest in the world but has languished in recent years. A group of researchers at the IASS is casting a spotlight on sustainable development and democratic change in Brazil.

Links between greenhouse gases, climate change and air quality

Air Pollution and Climate Change Dossier

Air pollution and climate change are closely related. The main sources of CO2 emissions – the extraction and burning of fossil fuels – are not only key drivers of climate change, but also major sources of air pollutants.

Contributing to the Sustainable Development of Arctic Regions

Sustainable Arctic Futures: A Regional and Global Challenge Dossier

Temperatures in the Arctic are currently rising twice as fast as in most other regions on the planet, a phenomenon most strikingly evidenced by the decreasing extent and volume of Arctic sea ice over the last decades. At the end of summer 2012, the extent of Arctic sea ice was the lowest since satellite measurements began: a mere 3.41 million km2, which is 49% below the 1979 to 2000 average. Since then, summertime sea ice in the Arctic has remained at a historically very low level. The processes currently under way in the Arctic are embedded in climate, economic, legal and social systems and processes that reach far beyond the Arctic Circle.