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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.

About us

In brief

Energy Transtion in Africa

Check out the workshop report of a seminar that aimed to explore the lessons learnt, challenges, and outlook for transdisciplinary and
transnational cooperation in the energy sector in Africa.

Collection on energy system modeling

Under the leadership of IASS researcher Diana Süsser, the editorial for a collection on energy system modeling has come out. It contains a summary of seven contributions on freely available methods and data for energy modeling.

Microplastics In Air Can Spread Round World In Days

Scientists from different German research institutions have found out that up to 27.5 million tons of microplastics are being transported thousands of miles all over the world by ocean air, snow, sea spray, and fog each year.


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Ocean governance

Stakeholder Engagement is Key to Effective Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biodiversity

The conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) is a shared responsibility of all nations. But current regulations and policies are ineffective to address comprehensive marine environmental protection. Over its five-year duration, the STRONG High Seas project (‘Strengthening Regional Ocean Governance for the High Seas’) has advanced the development of integrated approaches for ABNJ in the Southeast Atlantic and Southeast Pacific.

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Climate change

Policymakers Underestimate Methane’s Climate and Air Quality Impacts

Methane emissions have been increasing rapidly in recent years, contributing significantly to global warming. Despite this, methane is not adequately treated within existing national and international governance frameworks. Researchers at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam highlight the urgent need for action in a new study.

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Franco-German Forum for the Future

Forum for the Future: Strengthening environmental, economic, and social resilience

The Franco-German Forum for the Future has published seven recommendations to strengthen environmental transformations and promote economic and social resilience in towns and communities. The recommendations are addressed to the governments of France and Germany and follow eighteen months of dialogue with stakeholders from local politics, public agencies, and civil society in both countries.

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IASS Focal Topic 2022

Justice in Sustainability Dossier

The issue of justice is increasingly playing a greater role in the transformation towards sustainability. Calls to improve justice outcomes touch on a variety of issues, in particular the distribution of the costs and benefits of transformations as well as the burdens of climate change and environmental degradation. Other claims target procedural aspects: Who should have access to decision-making about transformation towards sustainability? A third set of justice claims focuses on recognition: Which groups are or should be recognized as rights-holders or as affected or especially vulnerable populations?

Sustainability in Brandenburg Dossier

Brandenburg is facing major sustainability challenges, such as agrarian transformation, energy transformation, mobility transformation, transformation of Lusatia, adaptation to climate change, promotion of rural areas, revitalisation of the economy after the Corona pandemic, and water supply and water protection. As a Potsdam institute, the IASS is actively involved in sustainability work in Brandenburg.

Systemic Risks Dossier

Modern societies are vulnerable to “systemic risks” such as pandemics, financial crises, or climate change. Due to their complex and interconnected nature, systemic risks pose a particular challenge to conventional approaches to risk analysis and management. The research group on systemic risks at the IASS analyses risks and opportunities around transformation processes for sustainable development and, in a second step, develops policy recommendations for the governance of systemic risks.

IASS Research on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Dossier

By endorsing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the international community signalled its commitment to tackling global challenges through cooperation. The Agenda provides a blueprint for reconciling economic growth with social justice and environmental sustainability.