The log and the flame: what fire can teach us about the transformation towards sustainability

The “Green Me Global Festival for Sustainability” is an annual event hosted at different locations around the world. Recent iterations of the festival have explored the elements earth, water and air across film screenings, discussions, and other initiatives. Researchers from the IASS have contributed to a number of these events over the years. The eleventh...
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The Social and Economic Co-Benefits of Renewable Energies

In the fight against climate change, it’s vital that developing and emerging nations also abandon their fossil fuels, which are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. The co-benefits of renewable energy policies can become a decisive argument for structural change. Last week, Tagesspiegel Background reported on a study of investment and jobs in the German...
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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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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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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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Strengthening the G20 sustainable energy agenda – the way forward

The 2017 G20 summit takes place in the country that has won international recognition for its “Energiewende” – a fundamental transformation of its energy system. This provides an important window of opportunity for strengthening the G20 agenda on sustainable energy. The world’s overall energy supply is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels, which undermines climate...
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How Can Local Governments and Civil Society Partner to Produce Sustainable Cities?

How can local governments and civil society partner to produce sustainable cities? This was one of the central questions cutting across four panels of the conference “Co-producing sustainable cities?”, which was organized by the Heinrich Böll Foundation in cooperation with the Technical University of Berlin. This conference served as a discussion forum in preparation for...
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The High Seas as Global Commons

It is Easter Monday and I am at the United Nations in New York in a full room of representatives from member states and organisations. An Easter chocolate bunny proudly stands on the European Union’s desk and provides for jovial talks before the meeting is officially opened by the Chair, His Excellency Mr Eden Charles...
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