The new planetary challenges of our time are highly complex. New and effective forms of democratic governance for civil society, states, and markets are needed.
The new planetary challenges of our time are highly complex. New and effective forms of democratic governance for civil society, states, and markets are needed. istock/Nattakorn Maneerat

Headline: Democratic Governance for Ecopolitical Transformations

The research group Democratic (Re-)Configurations of Sustainability Transformations is realigning itself to better reflect the Institute's understanding of its mission. Born out of three separate research projects in early 2019, the group applies the IASS methodology to identify opportunities for democratic transformations towards sustainable societies and to support their development.

The actual research process entails a critical appraisal of democratic innovations, followed by the development of prototypes in transformative labs and their co-creative implementation, in particular in the Amazon region. Research results from similar projects such as Social Transformation and Policy Advice in Lusatia are applied to support this work. The research group also cooperates with other IASS projects and groups, for example with the Science Platform Sustainability 2030 on the implementation of the first labs, which will explore how technological innovations can serve democratic transformations towards sustainability.

Completed Projects

Governance and Participation

This project investigates diverse forms of political and economic participation within the context of socio-ecological transformations like the energy transition, the German environmental movement, and the transformation of agriculture. The project aims to generate a nuanced understanding of the interdependencies of actors and structures experiencing change.

Implementing the Paris Agreement - Overcoming Barriers and Identifying Drivers for Effective Climate Governance

The Paris Climate Agreement has been in force since November 2016. The countries that have adopted the agreement must now develop a regulatory regime for its implementation, deliver on their proposed commitments, and develop these further as the process progresses. This project analyses the main barriers to and drivers of implementation and examines the courses of action open to different actors.

Democratic Anthropocene

How can we create institutions with the capacity to attune contemporary political time, with its focus on election cycles, to the realities of planetary time and the development of life-sustaining resources over centuries? The project investigates questions such as this. It explores the emergent challenges presented by the Anthropocene and considers how they might be addressed within democratic societies.


Funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), "Demoenergy - The Transformation of the Energy System as a Driver of Democratic Innovation" is a joint research project of the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (KWI, Essen) and the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS, Potsdam). The project examined public participation processes in connection with the transformation of the energy system and sought to develop a better understanding of the potentials and limits of dialogue-oriented citizen participation processes around the planning of infrastructure projects for the energy transformation.

Promoting Acceptance of Renewable Energies

For a successful energy transition, it is vital that the general population supports the expansion of renewable energies. This project asks whether a more environmentally friendly expansion could lead to greater acceptance of renewable energies.