Headline: RIFS 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.

 

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?

read more

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?”.

read more
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.

read more
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.

read more

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.

read more

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?

read more
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.

read more

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.

read more
Excursion to Feldheim

A Renewables Frontrunner in Brandenburg

We like to think of Germany as a trailblazer in the transition to a sustainable energy system. But the energy crises unleashed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have highlighted the shortcomings in Germany’s energy policy. The truth is that when it comes to the energy transition, successive governments have dragged their heels and wasted precious time. Undaunted by this, many towns and villages have taken things into their own hands and created carbon-neutral energy and heating systems that power their communities and more.

read more
Berlin Science Week

Haptic Hortus in Berlin

Plenty of people talk to their plants. But what about touching them? Tracing the veins on their leaves, caressing their stems, holding them, moving them? And what about the many ways that plants - from trees to shrubs to water lilies and flowers - touch us? At the recent Berlin Science Week, IASS fellow, anthropologist and artist Susanne Schmitt teamed up with community gardeners Prinzessinnengärten and natural building lab Dis+Ko to create a unique space: Haptic Hortus.

read more
Friedrichstrasse

Lessons for participatory urban planning

Seit 2020 ist ein Abschnitt der Friedrichstraße für Menschen zu Fuß oder mit dem Fahrrad geöffnet und für dem Autoverkehr geschlossen. Das Berliner Verwaltungsgericht hat im Oktober verkündet, dass auf diesen circa 500 Metern der Friedrichstraße wieder Autos fahren sollen. Jenseits des Juristischen Streits dreht sich die Debatte darum, ob der Einzelhandel leidet, wenn Kunden nicht mit dem Auto kommen können. Aber diese Debatte greift zu kurz.

read more