Headline: Blog

The blog of the Research Institute for Sustainability (RIFS) contains contributions from employees in all RIFS departments and covers a huge range of themes. In addition to discussing the latest research findings and events, the blog authors comment on political developments.

 

Climate policy

The Turn of the Year in Climate Policy: Insights and Outlook

The term “triple crisis” loomed large in 2022: The interlinking crises of the pandemic, the climate and energy crises, and the war in Ukraine took many people to their existential limits this past year. Geopolitically, we now face a fragmented world in which power relations are increasingly contested. This was evident at the Sharm el-Sheikh Climate Change Conference (COP 27) in November, where familiar lines of conflict shaped negotiations. Tensions between countries of the Global North and South, for example: Who bears how much responsibility for the climate change that is already occurring (not least of all financial responsibility!) and who (still) counts as a developing country and should be granted support? Debate also continues to rage around the exploitation and use of fossil fuels, which many countries wish to continue for as long as possible – even under the Paris Agreement.

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A Treaty for the High Seas

For years now the international community has been negotiating an agreement that will cover more than half of the Earth's surface and establish rules for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity. Will they succeed?

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How Can I Live Sustainably?

For just over 11 years, from October 2011 until the end of 2022, I worked as a scientific director at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam, helping to build it up from an experimental idea into an established institution. Now the IASS has become RIFS: the Research Institute for Sustainability – Helmholtz Center Potsdam. During this time, I’ve learned a lot, and have also puzzled over many challenging questions. One of these seems quite simple: “How can I live sustainably?”.

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Justice in Sustainability

African Judicial Environmentalism, Community Mobilization and the Quest for Sustainability

Africa is a continent rich in cultures, natural resources and biodiversity. However, the continent faces diverse environmental challenges, including pollution, deforestation, and species extinction. In a recent lecture Dr. Caiphas Brewsters Soyapi argued that traditional knowledge offers a moral compass that Africans can use to find their own response to ecological problems, a view that many judiciaries are coming to share.

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Justice & Sustainability

Exploring the Complexities of Justice in Sustainability

The team behind the IASS Focal Topic “Justice in Sustainability” has released a short film that explores issues of justice in the context of climate crises and the decarbonisation of energy systems. The film presents prominent voices in the field from scientists, activists and practitioners who have participated in events and lectures hosted as part of the IASS Focal Topic in 2022.

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The Power of Stories: Why We Need New Narratives for a Sustainable Future, and How Quantitative Analyses Can Support Them

While the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals are universal, the pathways leading to them are diverse. Due to their different biophysical, socio-economic and political-cultural circumstances, countries are guided by different visions of how the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) should be achieved and have different policy options and levers for doing so. The SHAPE project ("Sustainable development pathways achieving Human well-being while safeguarding the climate And Planet Earth”) has taken up the challenge of identifying and describing such Sustainable Development Pathways (SDPs). An interdisciplinary team of researchers is currently developing and analysing new, holistic narratives and scenarios in order to understand how actions to mitigate climate change in-teract with strategies to achieve the other Sustainable Development Goals.

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Is there a Future for the Climate Strike Movement?

Four years ago, the student-led climate strike movement took the world by storm. Ever since, the strikes have played an important role in the strategic repertoire of the global climate movement. Yet as emissions keep rising, even mass protests with millions of participants have proved unable to build sufficient political pressure to secure meaningful political concessions. This presents a strategic dilemma to the movement: How does one even strike amidst an escalating climate crisis?

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Workshop at the IASS

Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Transformations Towards Sustainability at the Regional Level

Transformations towards sustainability need change at all levels. It takes people who have the courage to embrace goals and are empowered to pursue them. We need pioneers and projects that show that sustainable change and lifestyles are possible. And we need targets and incentives to help ensure that transformations are broad-based and lasting. One aspect that is rarely considered is the role that regions play in sustainability transformations. This was the focus of the workshop "Transformations towards sustainability at the regional level" on 25.11.2022 at the IASS in Potsdam.

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Re-imagining the future through visual utopias

“We have to imagine a society before we build it”, Justine Norton Kertson says, “And when it comes to adapting and solving the climate crisis, defeating fossil fuel empires, and creating a relationship of harmony rather than conflict between humanity, technology and nature; then we have to move from the imaginary to the real, from theoretical to practical”. There is no doubt that we have a long road ahead to build a carbon-neutral environment and create sustainable ways of living in the near future. But more importantly, at least from my point of view, we need to decide on what we would like to change exactly and what kind of a world we want to establish in the first place. Otherwise, we will not be able to take life-changing steps that will have long-lasting results.

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