Headline: Governance for the Environment and Society

The research area "Governance for the Environment and Society" focuses on transformation processes arising in connection with environmental challenges and associated societal changes, in particular in relation to air quality, climate change, mobility, oceans and the Arctic Region. What policy measures and shifts in behaviour contribute to more sustainable outcomes? How can science support these processes, in particular through co-creative research? Research in this area is performed in cooperation with partners at the local, regional, and international levels from civil society, government, and the private sector. The research groups within this area employ a transdisciplinary and transformative approach in which the research questions are developed in cooperation with partners from science, policy-making, and civil society. The researchers support and cooperate with these partners within the framework of policy development and governance processes, reflect critically on this transdisciplinary practice and, in doing so, contribute to transformative research. Working closely with decision-makers and societal actors, the research group on "Ocean Governance" explores and develops new approaches to improve marine conservation and the sustainable use of the oceans. The "Arctic Governance" research group cooperates with stakeholders to gain a better understanding of and shape the societal, legal, and economic changes affecting the Arctic Region. In the group "Climate Change and Air Pollution", researchers study the links and interactions between climate protection, air quality, and mobility in urban spaces. The "Network for Investigating Clean Air Solutions - Himalaya" aims to develop effective measures to improve air quality in Nepal. The research group "The Transport Transition as a Socio‐Ecological Real‐World Experiment" uses an integrated approach to investigate the factors that facilitate social-ecological mobility transitions in metropolitan areas.

Dossiers

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.

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 continued commitment to dealing with global challenges as a collective. The Agenda provides a blueprint for reconciling economic growth with social justice and environmental sustainability.

IPCC Report and Marine Regions Forum

Fresh Impetus for Marine Conservation

Climate change is having particularly devastating impacts on the world’s oceans: they are becoming warmer and more acidic, with profound consequences for their complex ecosystem. The special report on “The Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate”, due to be presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on 25 September, evaluates current scientific research on changes to the oceans. The Marine Regions Forum will convene in Berlin shortly afterwards with the aim of delivering clear recommendations, actionable results, and more support for regional partnerships.

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Catalogue of measures

A Rescue Plan for the Ocean

A comprehensive High Seas Treaty and extensive marine protected areas are urgently needed in the next decade to preserve life-supporting ocean function. These are just two of eight measures recommended in a study, to which Torsten Thiele from the Ocean Governance team at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) contributed.

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New study on air pollution exposure in metropolitan areas

"Bad Atmosphere" on City Cycle Lanes

The cause of millions of premature deaths annually, air pollution is a global challenge. It affects both developing and developed countries, with cities, in particular, struggling to meet air quality standards. A new study by a team of researchers at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) investigates air pollutant concentrations in urban areas and the factors that affect air quality. The study includes a number of recommendations that will interest urban planners and citizens alike.

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Interview

Energy Transition: Populism is the Path to the Worst Case Scenario

The transition to a net-zero-emission economy will create new rivalries, winners and losers. What scenarios are possible? As part of the Geopolitics and Energy Transformation 2030 (GET 2030) project at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), a team of international experts has looked into the developments that are conceivable in the international energy transition and their geopolitical implications. A team led by Professor Andreas Goldthau has commented on the results of this investigation in the journal “Nature”. In an interview with the IASS, Goldthau outlined the different possible scenarios.

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Climate negotiations

Most Affected, Least Heard

It seems reasonable to expect that the people who suffer most from the impacts of climate change are represented in the international climate negotiations. Patrick Toussaint, a researcher at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), has analysed the status quo from the perspective of international law. He concludes that those who currently bear the brunt of climate change – or will do so in the foreseeable future – have little or no influence on the negotiations.

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Effective Agreements and Greater Cooperation: Recommendations for Marine Conservation in South America and Africa

The United Nations wish to adopt a new global agreement for the protection of the high seas in the coming year. The negotiations among the UN member states offer an opportunity to strengthen marine conservation and extend protections to ocean areas beyond national jurisdiction. IASS researchers have developed a number of recommendations to strengthen relevant legal frameworks and bolster institutional cooperation in West Africa and South America.

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Climate change

A Duty of Care: How Indigenous Knowledge Can Help the Arctic

Retreating ice, more shipping, fewer reindeer – climate change is already leaving its mark in the Arctic. How are people on the ground coping with these changes? At a recent event in Potsdam, indigenous scientist and entrepreneur Jocelyn Joe-Strack explained why numbers don’t tell the whole story and how her people in the Canadian Arctic are rebuilding their holistic relationship with nature.

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From Voluntary Commitments to Ocean Sustainability: IASS Researchers Propose Global Registry and Uniform Monitoring System

Our human livelihoods depend on the oceans, and the conservation of this vital resource is one of the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), which together form the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In order to achieve SDG 14, the sustainable use and development of the world’s oceans, a plethora of voluntary commitments have been made in recent years. IASS researchers Barbara Neumann and Sebastian Unger have studied these voluntary commitments. Their findings and recommendations for improving the existing system have now been published in the prestigious journal Science.

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Marine Conservation: New Dialogue Forum to Strengthen Cooperation

Our oceans are increasingly suffering under the pressure of overfishing, pollution, climate change, and acidification. Yet in spite of this, the various institutions responsible for conserving them still tend to operate in isolation from each other. That situation is about to change: On 8 and 9 October, about 40 international experts gathered at the IASS to further refine the concept for a new informal dialogue forum at the interface of science, policy and society.

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Understanding the Arctic: New Textbook on Arctic Politics

The new textbook “Internationale Politik und Governance in der Arktis” offers a vivid and detailed overview of the actors, events, and processes that have shaped the governance of the Arctic Region. The textbook was written by IASS researcher Kathrin Stephen, Sebastian Knecht from Freie Universität Berlin and Golo M. Bartsch from the European External Action Service (Brussels).

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Benefit Sharing and the Common Heritage of Mankind: Policy Brief Makes Recommendations for the Governance of Deep Seabed Mining

How could the exploitation of the resources of the deep seabed conceivably benefit humanity? What risks does such exploitation pose to the marine environment? And how can we ensure that governance in this area is fair – for all of humankind? The latest IASS Policy Brief examines what the International Seabed Authority can do to reconcile the use of the ‘common heritage of mankind’ with the global sustainable development goals formulated in the 2030 Agenda.

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Governing in Times of Digitalisation and the Crisis of Democracy: Policy Brief Points the Way to Innovative Governance

Digitalisation is changing not only how we live and work, but also how governments operate and make laws. Synthetic biology and new genetic engineering methods allow for targeted interventions in our bodies, quality of life and private sphere, while also transforming the way we think about society and politics. The erstwhile peace project Europe is mired in crisis, and people are losing faith in democracy and the state. There is an urgent need for innovations to open up new avenues for politics and administration. A new IASS Policy Brief makes a number of recommendations for governing in the twenty-first century.

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The Skin of our Planet: Call for Applications to the 2018 Potsdam Summer School

The Earth’s surface is the foundation of all human activity. Geological, biological and climatic dynamics like the carbon cycle, soil formation, and climate and ocean currents form a complex web of connected processes, whose interactions are not yet fully understood. The fifth Potsdam Summer School from 10 to 19 September 2018 is devoted to “The Skin of our Planet – the Earth’s Surface System”.

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Meeting with State Government

A Future Commission for Brandenburg

The Governor of Brandenburg and members of the state government came to the IASS on 12 December to discuss energy policy and climate protection. Together with the directors of the IASS and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), they explored the idea of a Future Commission to ensure that Brandenburg’s energy transition is socially responsible and economically sustainable.

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