Talanoa as Expectation Management – or Raising the Bar while Jumping

Fijian Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khayium during a Talanoa at COP23. © BMUB/ Christian Büchter

Both sustainability ambitions and obstacles are growing exponentially. This begs for the kind of expectation management arguably performed by the IASS Potsdam and other organizations, for instance the Future Earth network. In addressing the advisory role of science in sustainability, Future Earth is building advisory capacities and raising expectations at the same time. These expectations...
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On the culture of untapped potential

Der UNESCO-Pavillion

Last week I attended the UN Climate Change Conference COP23 in Bonn. After having hosted an interactive side-event at the intersessional negotiation in May 2017, this was my first visit to an annual UNFCCC COP. I attended the conference without any concrete expectations and was mainly interested in observing the communication and working culture at...
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The Myth of “Stranded Assets” in Climate Protection

Ever since Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, spoke in 2015 before Lloyd’s of London about climate change, the future of the energy industries, and financial stability, finance ministers and central bank governors around the world have underscored climate protection’s systemic threat to the world’s financial system. They worry aloud about the...
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Ways forward for Loss and Damage: An interview with Saleemul Huq

Dr Saleemul Huq is Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) in Bangladesh and has participated in the international climate negotiations since their inception in 1992. His current work focuses on the engagement of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). He conducts research...
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Environmental Sustainability: A Bhutanese Expression

Haa Valley, Bhutan: A farmer walks down a rural pathway carrying a load of rice stalks. He wears a gho, the traditional men's garment. © istock/leezsnow

As a child, I lived near the forests and walked everywhere on foot because we did not have motorable roads, nor could my parents afford to buy a family car. If I were to narrate this story to sociologists or media reporters, then I would feel that I was exposing my limited wealth compared with...
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Poking holes in our mindsets: impressions from the Potsdam Summer School 2017

As an unprecedented weather event unfolded last week across the Atlantic Ocean, affecting Gulf Coast states and major cities in the United States as well as island communities throughout the Caribbean, over 40 young professionals and graduate students from over 30 countries gathered at the IASS to discuss “Human Environments in a Changing World” –...
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What does it take to forge a partnership with Africa?

Initiating a new partnership with Africa was a key priority of the German G20 Presidency and one of the topics on the agenda at the G20 Summit in Hamburg last weekend. In their Leaders’ Declaration, the heads of the 19 major industrialized and emerging market economies and the EU underscored their commitment to “foster sustainable...
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Climate engineering: Recasting expertise?

Narrating the future makes it manageable. The stories we tell about emerging sciences and new technologies lay the groundwork for how we govern them. However, these stories—the casts involved, the roles assigned—change over time, and through them, our understanding of what matters for governance. The debate around climate engineering—the idea that it may be possible...
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A Marshall Plan with Africa: Placing Digitalisation in the Service of Sustainable Development

“We need a new pact on the future between Europe and Africa” – this is the central message of the Cornerstones for a Marshall Plan with Africa, a discussion paper published by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development on 18 January 2017. The subject of digitalisation looms large in the paper, most...
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Talk, Trust, and Time: Bridging the Gap between Science and Policy

Just two months ago I strolled up to the bank building of the IASS itching to start gaining practical research experience, but with no idea of what to expect. Coming from a background of environmental science and being enrolled in a Master’s program aimed at bridging the gap between science and policy, I was prepared...
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