How Long Is Now? Reflections on Berlin, Deep Time and Planetary Futures

Walking westwards along Oranienburger Strasse in Berlin-Mitte, the building-high mural How Long Is Now dominates the horizon, eclipsing nearby landmarks. It is, as I learned, a now legendary artwork adorning the derelict art centre Kunsthaus Tacheles (‘straight talking’ in Yiddish). The building embodies what is true for the city as a whole, at least as...
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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 we stimulate action on collective behavior change toward sustainable futures?

Insights from the First KLASICA International Case Studies Symposium in Taipei The first Knowledge, Learning, And Societal Change Alliance (KLASICA) Symposium, which took place on 21–24 November 2016, in Taipei, Taiwan was a stimulating and productive event. KLASICA is a new effort using the wide range of intellectual lenses of the natural and social sciences,...
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Kicking the Coal Habit: China & Co. Offer Lessons for Germany

Phasing out coal and oil extraction is the most difficult aspect of climate policy. While renewable energies dazzle with the promise of new markets and feed-in payments, phase outs put losers front and centre. And convincing oil and coal companies to invest in new business ventures with brighter prospects can be an onerous undertaking –...
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Cycle or Walk to IASS Challenge

The Himalaya team – Heiko Thomas, Pankaj Sadavarte, Zoe Lüthi, Khadak Mahata (+ David Dietrich, not in the picture) – during the awards. © Soline Bonnel

Happy and motivated people, a sunny day, delicious homemade pastries, a short opening speech, and there we were—ready to launch our first Cycle or Walk to IASS Challenge on this morning of 27 June 2016! Our goal? To cover the greatest distance by bike and foot during our daily commuting over the next two weeks....
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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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Sustainability Research in a Sustainable Workplace

Scientists working at the IASS address diverse topics across the field of sustainability research. But how sustainable is our institute? In the summer of 2014 staff at the IASS launched an initiative to seek answers to this question. Our goal is to promote sustainability at the institute and minimise its ecological footprint. We aim to...
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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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One Healthy Arctic: The Challenges and Linkages between Environmental and Human Health and Well-being

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the latest Arctic Summit Science Week in Fairbanks, Alaska. Building on the outcomes of last year’s summit in Toyama, Japan (see my previous post), the scientific community is increasingly seeking to unify synergies between the social and natural sciences to tackle problems related to...
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Sustainability Impacts of Industry 4.0

Can you be an engineer and ‘still’ ponder the big questions of humanity? This question presented itself to me last year, when I was looking to take a new direction in my career after a number of years in classical engineering jobs. So, there’s no Nobel Prize or Fields Medal for engineering? Oh well. But...
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