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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

The Other Endangered Frontier of Subsea Mining

The Blue Amazon s the part of the ocean owned by Brazil. It covers an area of 3.6 million square kilometers, equivalent to half of the Amazon rainforest, and is abundant in natural and mineral wealth, and this has aroused great interest in Brazil, IASS-Researcher Maila Guilhon calls for a regulatory basis

Webinar on hydrogen

A webinar on 5 December 2022, co-organised by the German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA) and the IASS, examines the recent interest in hydrogen energy among political and economic leaders in the oil and gas-producing states of the Gulf Cooperation Council.


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Building Acceptance for Energy Transitions in Germany and Australia

Publics in Germany and Australia are broadly supportive of efforts to decarbonise energy systems. However, opposition to the rollout of renewables is growing. In a new study, researchers show that community participation plays a key role in building acceptance for energy transition policies. The governments of both countries are pursuing different strategies to foster public acceptance of various measures.

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IASS Policy Brief

Accelerating the Jordanian Energy Transition

Jordan’s energy transition has been rapid and ambitious: in 2021 renewables accounted for 26% of electricity production in Jordan, up from less than 1% in 2014. However, progress has stalled recently, largely due to conflicts between Jordan’s renewable energy goals and the costs of fossil fuel over-capacity for the state-owned electricity transmission and distribution company NEPCO. A new IASS Policy Brief considers how regional cooperation, stakeholder participation, and electricity market reforms could put Jordan's energy transition back on track.

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Discussion Paper

Why the Gulf States Are Betting on Hydrogen

Why are Gulf oil and gas producers so keen to promote hydrogen energy? This question is addressed in a new discussion paper by Natalie Koch, political geographer and fellow at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS). She concludes that for political and corporate leaders in the Gulf states, pivoting towards hydrogen serves to maintain the social, political, and economic status quo. Questions of energy justice are likely to remain, however.

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Sustainable Development Goals

Industry 4.0: Uneven Uptake Could Jeopardise Sustainable Development

The ninth United Nations Sustainable Development Goal aims to promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation. Digitalisation is expected to influence market access and the positioning of companies within sustainable value chains. Individual countries or sectors that are slower to adopt digital technologies risk being left behind in this transformation. A new study offers insights into the uneven uptake of digital technologies and its implications.

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Deliberative Mini-Publics Dossier

Deliberative mini-publics are participatory processes in which a randomly selected and heterogenous group of citizens cooperate for a period to develop recommendations, ideas or solutions on a specific issue. The IASS accompanies these processes in various roles.

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.