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.

Dossiers

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.

Cooperation

New Platform Aims to Strengthen EU’s Role in Ocean Governance

Strengthening the European Union’s role in international ocean governance - this is the aim of the EU International Ocean Governance Forum (IOG Forum) developed by the European Commission and the European External Action Service with the support of the IASS and other project partners. In late April 2020, the IOG Forum was launched online with a series of webinars attended by 450 experts. The series addressed a range of issues, including the protection and sustainable use of the oceans, how to deal with the oceans in the context of climate change and the role of research and science for a sustainable future for the oceans.

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Energy Transition

Creating the Conditions for a Globally Just Energy Transition

How can the energy transition be organized in a globally just way? Will developing countries struggle to transition to clean energy because they lack the financial and technical means? A new Policy Brief by the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) focuses on the risks of an uneven transition and makes concrete proposals to prevent such risks.

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Publication

New Study on the Future of the Global Seafloor

The ocean hosts an inconceivable wealth of marine life and diverse habitats, most of which remains unknown. International plans to mine minerals from the deep seafloor threaten this largely unexplored biodiversity hotspot. States are currently seeking to develop a legal framework for deep seabed mining. In cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation, an international team of researchers from the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) has published a new study warning against a rush to exploit deep seafloor resources and calling for coordinated efforts to develop alternative approaches.

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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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Interview

Tackling Disinformation on Climate Change

To avert devastating climate change impacts, we need to make dramatic lifestyle changes. Lance Bennett, Professor of Political Science and Communication at the University of Washington and currently IASS Senior Fellow, explains how better communication can help us succeed in changing course.

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Interview with EU expert

“The SDGs have become ‘Chefsache’ in many European countries”

The European Union (EU) is currently finding its bearings after the recent elections, and the jostling for top positions is in full swing. Regardless of the outcome, sustainability is likely to play a stronger role in future EU policy. Now for the first time, the EU will report to the UN High-Level Political Forum on progress in implementing the SDGs. Senior Fellow Ingeborg Niestroy has closely monitored the EU’s sustainability policy over the last twenty years and just presented the IASS Science Platform Sustainability 2030 at this 'HLPF'. In the following interview, she talks about a study she led on the sustainability strategies of the EU member states.

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New study on air pollution

"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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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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Global Sustainability Strategy Forum

From Knowledge to Action: Recommendations to Advance the Transformation Towards Sustainability

Fifteen renowned scientists gathered in Potsdam for one week to discuss the state of play and the need for action to support the implementation of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals around the world. Their deliberations have resulted in new insights and recommendations to improve policymaking for sustainable development.

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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

Structural change and sustainability must go hand in hand

With the Structural Adjustment Act, the German government intends to provide 40 billion euros of federal funding for the coal-mining areas of Germany. In addition, an emergency fund of 260 million euros is earmarked for short-term projects. However, the effect of these funds will remain modest if the federal and state governments do not go further than previously planned in implementing the costly coal exit. They risk losing sight of three essential goals: enabling sustainability, strengthening regional activity, and learning to shape transformation.

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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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