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What we work on

Transformative Sustainability Research

The Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) conducts research with the goal of understanding, advancing, and guiding processes of societal change towards sustainable development. Our researchers collaborate with diverse actors from science, policymaking and public administration as well as business and civil society to develop a common understanding of sustainability challenges and generate potential solutions. The Institute pursues a research approach that is transformative, transdisciplinary, and co-creative.

About us

In brief

Global politics for the ocean

Overfishing, acidification, warming, sea-level rise, littering and species extinction: The situation in the oceans is dramatic. Solutions are being discussed at the United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon and the G7.

Podcast on clean energy waste

What to do with clean energy waste? Learn more in the Political Climate podcast with IASS Fellow Emily Burlinghaus.

News

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Democratic governance

Podcast Explores Carbon’s Role in Politics

In a new podcast series, IASS researchers discuss the role of carbon in climate and sustainability politics. They talk to academics, activists and artists whose work has influenced their own research on the transformations of our carbon-dependent society. In the first episode, political scientist Cara New Daggett of Virginia Tech offers an innovative, feminist and critical look at energy.

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Interview

The IASS Accompanies Municipalities During Participation Processes

Losland, a cooperation between the IASS and the association Mehr Demokratie, supports municipalities to sustainably shape their future. The Losland team draws from citizen participation methods to develop individualised participation processes in these municipalities. IASS political scientist Daniel Oppold has been scientifically accompanying the process since 2021. In an interview, he explains how the project works, what an “assembly for the future” is, and the project’s aims.

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Lessons from the coal phase-out

Sustainability Needs a New Approach to Interest Intermediation

Sustainability policy in Germany currently falls short of what is needed, despite ambitious rhetoric. In a study, IASS researchers show that the established way of mediating interests between politics, industry and trade unions stands in the way of a more ambitious agenda. For a successful transition, policymakers must remould the relationship between capitalism, democracy, and sustainability.

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Study

Does Industry Drive Politics?

Does a strong renewable energy (RE) industry lead to more ambitious renewable energy policies? Researchers at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) conclude: Yes, countries with clean energy industries increase ambition in the following years. So governments should address the distribution of risks and benefits of the energy transition in their policy design as local value creation can be a key component to promoting more ambitious target policies in line with the Paris Agreement's 1.5°C goal.

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Dossiers

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IASS Focal Topic 2022

Justice in Sustainability Dossier

The issue of justice is increasingly playing a greater role in the transformation towards sustainability. Calls to improve justice outcomes touch on a variety of issues, in particular the distribution of the costs and benefits of transformations as well as the burdens of climate change and environmental degradation. Other claims target procedural aspects: Who should have access to decision-making about transformation towards sustainability? A third set of justice claims focuses on recognition: Which groups are or should be recognized as rights-holders or as affected or especially vulnerable populations?

Sustainability in Brandenburg Dossier

Brandenburg is facing major sustainability challenges, such as agrarian transformation, energy transformation, mobility transformation, transformation of Lusatia, adaptation to climate change, promotion of rural areas, revitalisation of the economy after the Corona pandemic, and water supply and water protection. As a Potsdam institute, the IASS is actively involved in sustainability work in Brandenburg.

Systemic Risks Dossier

Modern societies are vulnerable to “systemic risks” such as pandemics, financial crises, or climate change. Due to their complex and interconnected nature, systemic risks pose a particular challenge to conventional approaches to risk analysis and management. The research group on systemic risks at the IASS analyses risks and opportunities around transformation processes for sustainable development and, in a second step, develops policy recommendations for the governance of systemic risks.

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 commitment to tackling global challenges through cooperation. The Agenda provides a blueprint for reconciling economic growth with social justice and environmental sustainability.