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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

From Regime-building to Implementation

A new paper co-authored by IASS researchers shows that the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP) could more effectively promote implementation by focusing on targets and mitigation pathways for individual emitting sectors, across which opportunities and barriers differ significantly.

News

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Publication

New Book Explains Basics of CO2 Utilisation Technologies

While CO2 is one of the main causes of climate change, it also contains the carbon that we urgently need in everyday life, for example for plastics, shampoo and fuel. An IASS research project has produced the book “CO2-Nutzung für dummies” (“CO2 utilisation for dummies”) to familiarise readers with the basics of CO2 recycling.

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A Mindset for the Anthropocene: Online Platform Fosters Reflection and Networking

Transdisciplinary research brings together the knowledge of people from different backgrounds. It is considered to be particularly useful for developing solutions to complex sustainability challenges. A team of researchers at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies in Potsdam, Germany, have developed an online platform (https://www.ama-project.org) to facilitate strategic exchange and dialogues between researchers and stakeholders. In a new publication, the researchers describe the platform’s design and functionalities as well as its development in cooperation with a range of stakeholders.

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Democratic governance

Podcast Explores Carbon’s Role in Politics

In our 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 second episode, political scientist Timothy Mitchell of Columbia University discusses his ground-breaking book “Carbon Democracy” and the complicated relationship between fossil fuels and democracy.

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Ocean governance

Stronger Integration of International Negotiations Needed to Protect the Ocean

International solutions are needed to protect the ocean. Two sets of regulations currently under development offer an opportunity to expand protections, but a greater degree of alignment between the two must be achieved. In a new scientific article IASS researchers outline how this could be realised. States will meet again in July and August to continue their negotiations.

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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.