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.

SAPEA Report

Scientific Expertise Vital to EU Policymaking

In its latest report, the European organisation SAPEA (Science Advice for Policy by European Academies) has spoken out in favour of scientific advice for policymaking. By accessing the best available knowledge, policymakers are better equipped to tackle complex global challenges such as climate change. The report was prepared by an international working group comprising representatives of all the science academies of the EU member states. The group was chaired by Ortwin Renn from the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS).

read more
Award

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.

read more
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.

read more

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.

read more

Making Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Drivers of Green Growth: Recommendations for Politics and Business

“Green growth” promises to foster sustainable development while promoting economic prosperity and advancing social justice. But how does this work in practice? The EU-funded research project “Green Growth and Win-Win Strategies for Sustainable Climate Action” (Green-Win) has studied a range of green growth strategies. Its research results include a new guide to green business models and policy recommendations to foster green growth and support small and medium-sized enterprises.

read more

How Cities Should Approach Complex Risk Situations

Cities are more vulnerable than rural areas to a host of risks. Natural hazards like earthquakes or social risks like vandalism and crime have a far greater impact there. Moreover, the infrastructure of our cities is increasingly networked, and while smart cities may offer more in terms of security and convenience, data protection often falls by the wayside. Since risks are frequently interconnected, we need to take an integrated approach to managing them. A concept for risk governance elaborated by IASS researchers in the International Journal of Disaster Risk Science reflects just such an approach.

read more

Anxious Times: New Book by IASS Director Ortwin Renn

How powerful is fear and what effect does it have on our society? These questions are at the heart of a recently published book by the environmental and technical sociologist Ortwin Renn. In “Zeit der Verunsicherung” (Anxious Times), the Scientific Director at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) probes the causes and effects, as well as the perception and handling of fears in our society.

read more

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.

read more

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.

read more