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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

The Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism Explained

The carbon border adjustment mechanism is a key part of EU climate plans. In the Global Energy Transition Podcast series, IASS researcher Silvia Weko unpacks its complications.

Deutsche Welle: Covid-19 Special

German is in the grip of its fourth Covid-19 wave. What went wrong? Deutsche Welle spoke with IASS director Ortwin Renn. Watch the special on Youtube.

A Future for the Amazon

What does „Saving the Amazon“ mean? In her interview with Wissenschaftskommunikation.de, IASS researcher Cecilia Oliveira explains how the global communication on environmental issues is still shaped by colonial ideas and terms.

News

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Fifth Gene Technology Report

Can Gene Technology Contribute to More Sustainability in Agriculture?

Agriculture is a large but controversial area of gene technology. What opportunities and risks for sustainability are associated with applications like resistance breeding and genetic engineering to improve nutritional quality? IASS Director Ortwin Renn examines these issues in the “Fifth Gene Technology Report” of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities. He also recommends new forms of dialogue that can promote the responsible use of “green gene technology”.

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Out now: Energy Jobs Factsheets by the IRENA Coalition for Action and COBENEFITS

Renewable energy technologies can be true job motors: in 2020, the renewable energy sector employed at least 12 million people around the globe. Renewables can create sustainable jobs and improve the gender balance in the future energy sector. To harness the full socio-economic potential of renewables and to build the skills base needed for the energy transition, decisionmakers depend on reliable data, and trusted expert organisations to facilitate sound assessments.

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Decarbonisation

Making Aircraft Fuel From Sunlight and Air

Scientists at ETH Zurich have built a plant that can produce carbon-neutral liquid fuels from sunlight and air. The next goal will be to take this technology to industrial scale and achieve competitiveness. In a paper published in the scientific journal "Nature", researchers from Zurich and Potsdam describe how this novel solar reactor functions and outline a policy framework that would provide incentives to expand the production of "solar kerosene".

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Dossiers

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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.

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 the 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.