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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

Performance and Album Release

With her album "This Land is Not Mine", IASS Art Fellow Kat Austen pays homage to a landscape ravaged by open cast mining: Lusatia, at the German-Polish border. Watch her perform on 27th January, 8 pm, in Berlin or via live stream

Decarbonisation in South Africa

The transformation and decarbonisation of the South African energy system is gathering momentum. A report analyses and quantifies the socioeconomic implications of re-purposing coal-fired power plants in Mpumalanga through the deployment of renewable energy.

Platform for Transdisciplinarity

The tdAcademy is a research and community platform for transdisciplinarity. IASS Director Ortwin Renn supports the project as a partner.


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IASS Policy Brief

European Funding for Sustainable Structural Transformations in Cross-Border Regions

Profound structural transformations are unfolding in Lusatia and many other regions of Europe as part of a broader shift towards sustainable development. Various European funding programmes,including programmes under the European Green Deal and national support schemes, have been adopted to cushion the impacts of the reduction and phase-out of coal-fired power generation.

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Structural transformation

Brandenburg Sustainability Advisory Council in Dialogue with Youth Forum for Sustainability

Climate action, environmentally-friendly mobility systems and the decarbonisation of the economy are important elements of sustainable development. At its fourth meeting, held on 24 January 2022, the Sustainability Advisory Council of the State of Brandenburg discussed these topics with representatives from the Youth Forum for Sustainability (Jugendforum Nachhaltigkeit).

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A New Approach for International Environmental Law: Louis Kotzé is Klaus Töpfer Sustainability Fellow for 2022

The current geological epoch is defined by impacts of human activities on the environment. The problems related to these effects are not adequately addressed by international environmental law. As Klaus Töpfer Sustainability Fellow for 2022 at the IASS, Louis Kotzé, South African scholar of international environmental law, will develop innovative concepts that can underpin new legal norms to protect the entire Earth system.

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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.

Brazil: Strengthening Resilience in Times of Crisis Dossier

With 200 million citizens of diverse ethnicities, Brazil is the largest and most populous nation in Latin America. Brazil is also home to most of the world’s largest rainforest: the Amazon. The Brazilian economy is the ninth-largest in the world but has languished in recent years. A group of researchers at the IASS is casting a spotlight on sustainable development and democratic change in Brazil.