Headline: Governance

Establishing enabling environments is critical to putting societies on a pathway towards sustainable development. Politicians, citizens, businesses, and civil society organizations all play a role in the negotiations leading to sustainable transformations.

The IASS studies and supports governance processes that aim to deliver broad improvements in the quality of life and to ensure that planetary resources are used sustainably. Researchers at the IASS analyse existing governance frameworks such as the Paris Climate Change Agreement and study the impacts of their implementation across the dimensions of ecological, social and economic sustainability. This research includes analyses of the dynamics at play within the UNFCCC climate regime following the adoption of the Paris Agreement and of the social impacts of processes of large-scale structural change such as the decarbonisation of the energy system.

Research conducted at the IASS also considers the respective roles of various forms of participation – including citizen participation, participative management and protest – in shaping governance frameworks and contributing to the resolution of conflicts. What impact does participation have on decision-making processes? And, vice versa: How do political structures, processes, ideas and efforts to foster societal change affect different forms and areas of participation?

IASS researchers also contribute to transnational policymaking processes pertaining to the Arctic Region and sustainable ocean and soil governance by providing science-based policy advice and analyses developed in dialogue with stakeholders and other actors. These reciprocal learning processes also provide an important space for researchers to reflect on the role of science in transformations towards sustainability.

Projects

Investigating the Systemic Impacts of the Global Energy Transition (ISIGET)

The international energy transition is already delivering numerous benefits, but it is also creating new inequalities. The risks posed by this transformation will impact especially on developing countries, which lack access to technologies and capital. What, then, can be done to ensure that these countries can also make the transition to a low-carbon economy? This is the focus of a new project that will develop recommendations for equitable forms of governance to reconcile conflicting policy goals.

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Global Sustainability Strategy Forum

The need for a global transformation towards sustainability is broadly acknowledged in business, politics, and civil society. And yet little progress has been made towards making this goal a reality. What can be done to close the gap between the current reality and the goal of a sustainable future?

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Climate Engineering in Science, Society and Politics

Even with ambitious climate action, the impacts of climate change are set to increase massively. In this context, interest in climate engineering measures is growing. However, alongside considerations of their technical feasibility, these interventions in the climate system raise fundamental political, cultural and ethical questions.

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Futurisation of Politics

Nuclear waste, climate change, the coal phaseout: Decisions made today on issues like these can have far-reaching consequences for individuals, societies, and ecosystems in the future. This project explores how contemporary decision-making in politics, society, and the economy can be better aligned with the uncertainties of our future - and asks what measures are needed to achieve this.

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Ocean Governance

The major sustainability challenges of our time cannot be met without healthy oceans. In cooperation with third-party funded projects, this project investigates how essential sustainability transformations can be achieved for the oceans and how ocean governance can be strengthened, not least with regard to new risks.

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Climate Action in National and International Processes (ClimAct)

This project is designed to integrate scientific expertise into national and international political processes focussed on climate protection and sustainable development. The research team plays an active role in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) climate negotiations and the activities of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC).

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COBENEFITS

Mobilising the Multiple Opportunities of Renewable Energies

Together with many of Germany's partner countries in the area of energy and climate policy, this project is carrying out country-specific analyses of the social and economic potentials of an ambitious climate protection programme based on renewable energies. Policy instruments are also being developed to realise these potentials.

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Pathways to Sustainable Energy

How can the heating sector in Germany be made more efficient and intelligent so that fewer fossil fuels are used? How can the energy transition be advanced in Germany and abroad? What measures are necessary to ensure the sustainability of the energy transition in its social dimension? This project addresses these three questions and investigates the prerequisites for a successful energy transition.

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Dossiers

IASS Research on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Dossier

An important crossroads: at the end of September the UN member states voted on a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in order to initiate a global transformation towards sustainability. The Sustainable Development Goals are more extensive than their precursor, the eight Millennium Development Goals, which have often been criticised for not giving enough attention to the ecological dimensions of sustainability, or for considering it only in isolation. The primary goal remains the eradication of poverty.

News

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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Interview

Governance for Future Generations

In recent months young people across the world have been going on strike on Fridays to protest about their governments’ failure to adequately address the climate crisis. In their view, lack of political action to protect the climate is putting their future in jeopardy. But Wales is leading by example here with a law passed in 2015 that echoes the demands of the Fridays for Future protesters: the Well-being for Future Generations Act. It requires public authorities in Wales to consider the long-term effects of their decisions and make sustainable development a touchstone for policymaking.

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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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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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Blog Posts

The geopolitics of renewables. A new but messy energy world

Exhibiting the fastest growth among all fuels in the electricity sector, renewables are about to fundamentally change the energy system. This change is hoped to bring about important social and economic co-benefits, including sustainable and affordable energy for all, green job opportunities, and increased human health and wellbeing. But there may also be some fundamentally political implications of the low carbon shift. This is what a high level group of global leaders was tasked to look into, the result of which was published in their recent report titled A New World The Geopolitics of the Energy Transformation, published by IRENA, the international renewable energy agency.

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Nature with a Price Tag: How Payments for Ecosystem Services Work

“Economists are sounding the alarm […] bee death is wiping out up to 300 billion euro” (Die Welt, 2013). Cries of despair like this, which illustrate the interdependency of humans and nature, are commonplace nowadays. In recognition of the vital contribution they make to our lives, scientists refer to all of these functions as ecosystem services. In this line of thinking, nature provides a service that is worth paying for.

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