Headline: Systemic interdependencies: nature, technology, society

Current global processes of transformation present significant challenges for sustainability research, not least of all due to their inherently complex nature and associated risks. Many of these processes - globalisation and the digital transition, for example - are located at the intersections of technology, nature, and society. The research area on "Systemic Interdependencies" analyses the complex interactions between technology, nature, and society against a background of global transformation. Each group in this research area analyses these interdependencies from a different perspective, complementing the work of the other research groups. The area pursues the overarching goal of studying the conditions for a broad societal transformation towards sustainability from an interdisciplinary perspective. In addition to this, the area develops formats for policy advice to ensure that its research results contribute to current processes of transformation. Researchers in the group Digitalisation & Sustainability study the potential risks and benefits of using digital technologies in communications, services, and industrial production for transformations towards sustainable economies and societies. The group applies a transdisciplinary research approach to analyse the effects and interactions of modern digital technologies and services on society and the natural environmental. The Air Quality group investigates how the use of technologies contributes to the emission of air pollutants and greenhouse gases and studies interactions between air pollution and climate change. How can research help to foster a shift across society towards greater sustainability against this background? The Climate Engineering group investigates how ideas of using technology to intervene in the global climate find their way into science, society, and politics, and how scientific expertise and societal imaginaries develop and shape each other. The Systemic Risks group investigates the effects of systemic interdependencies at the intersection of technology, nature, and society. In its interdisciplinary research, the group analyses the risks and potential benefits of transformation processes for sustainable development and generates policy recommendations for the transdisciplinary and transformative governance of systemic risks.

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Order of Merit Awarded to IASS Director

Eighteen people were recently awarded the Order of Merit of the federal state of Baden-Württemberg by Governor Winfried Kretschmann. Professor Ortwin Renn, Scientific Director at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) was among them. Renn was honoured for his outstanding contribution to the transfer of scientific insights into politics, public administration and management and his unstinting commitment to a just and sustainable economic and social order.

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Risk Governance Concept

Advancing Disaster Risk Reduction

Populations are growing in disaster-prone areas around the world. The interaction of natural hazards with physical infrastructure in these regions can trigger devastating chain reactions, harming societies and their technical foundations. What can be done to address these challenges? A team at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) has developed a multi-level risk governance concept for natural disasters.

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Transdisciplinary Project to Investigate the Unintended Side Effects of Digitalisation

Digitalisation is changing how we live, but not only for the better: In addition to giving rise to new products, opportunities and services, it’s also having unintended side effects. The project “Digital Data as a Subject of Transdisciplinary Processes” (DiDaT) focuses on both the opportunities and the undesired consequences of digitalisation. It aims to identify and analyse side effects and make concrete proposals for coping with them. At an event to kick-start the project at the end of March, researchers and practitioners came together in Potsdam to define the main areas the project will focus on and outline potential solutions.

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Blog Posts

Thoughts on the Digital Agenda of the Federal Ministry of Environment

The issue of digitalisation and sustainable development has – finally! – reached a wider public. When IASS launched a research project on digitalisation five years ago, only a few researchers were concerned about the relationship between the digital transition and sustainability. However, the number of publications and events on this topic has increased noticeably, especially in the last year. In April of this year, the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) then presented its flagship report entitled "Towards our Common Digital Future". Just a few weeks later at the annual re:publica conference the duo of digitalisation and sustainability was already inseparable. There, the Federal Minister of the Environment, Svenja Schulze, presented a green paper outlining a digital policy agenda for the environment.

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Industry 4.0 – taking efficiency to new heights?

The term Industry 4.0 has been bandied about increasingly since it was established in 2011. Also referred to as the fourth industrial revolution, Industry 4.0 describes the growing use of digital technologies to link manufacturing technologies and facilitate continuous real-time data exchange. These manufacturing systems are based on interconnected cyber-physical systems with the capacity to independently organize and optimize their performance. Industry 4.0 promises to fundamentally transform manufacturing industry.

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