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.


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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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.

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Norderstedt City of the Future - Project phase II

How can motorised traffic be reduced in a prosperous city of 80,000 inhabitants located in a busy metropolitan area? How can public spaces be revitalised? These are the kinds of questions raised by the implementation of the UN sustainable development goals and the pursuit of local sustainability objectives in Norderstedt. IASS researchers are helping the city find effective and practical answers to them.

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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.

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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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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.

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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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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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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.


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

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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