Headline: Homepage

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

Consequences of climate change are dramatic in the Arctic

As the Arctic Ocean is particularly affected by global temperature rise, more knowledge about this special habitat is needed. Interview with IASS researcher Nicole Wienrich

Study examines drivers of government investment in energy innovation

New analysis in "Nature Energy" written by our former Fellow Jonas Meckling offers insight into the trajectory of energy research, development, and RD&D that may help policymakers recalibrate their strategy to drive innovation.

Decolonialising EU research programmes

A group of researchers will make proposals for the decolonialisation of EU research programmes through a roadmap. Among the partners are the Indigenous Voices research group at UiT The Arctic University of Norway, the Saami Council, and the IASS Arctic Governance research group.


Show all
IASS 10+2 Anniversary

“A flagship in the German sustainability landscape”

Following a two-year delay due to the pandemic, the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) celebrated the tenth anniversary of its foundation and its forthcoming integration into the Helmholtz Association with a festive ceremony in Potsdam under the motto “10+2”. The President of the German Environment Agency, Dirk Messner, gave the keynote speech and IASS Founding Director Klaus Töpfer attended as the guest of honour. The event concluded with a tribute to IASS Scientific Director Ortwin Renn, who will retire at the end of the year.

Read more

Making Trainees in the Coal Industry Agents of Change

How can courses at vocational schools encourage their students to work for climate mitigation despite the impeding economic change? Based on workshops with trainees in the German coal-mining region of Lusatia, a team from the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) offers some guidelines on how to include civics and education for sustainable development in lesson plans.

read more

Sebastian Unger Appointed Germany's First Special Representative for the Oceans

At a cabinet meeting on 14 September, the German Government appointed Sebastian Unger as its first Special Representative for the Oceans in the portfolio of the Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection. Prior to his appointment, Unger worked at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) for a good decade. The establishment of a Special Representative for the Oceans underscores the Federal Government’s recognition of the growing importance of marine conservation and the sustainable use of the oceans.

read more
Energy Transition

Technology Transfer Deficits Jeopardize Climate Targets

Many developing countries have made their nationally determined climate contributions submitted under the Paris Agreement conditional on receiving climate finance, technology transfer, and capacity building support. However, developed countries have so far failed to deliver tech transfer to the extent promised. According to a new study, public-private partnerships and other energy initiatives can only partially make up for this shortfall. While their role in supporting the growth of low-carbon energy systems in the Global South is proving crucial, their contribution in terms of technology transfer is insufficient.

read more


Show all

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.