Headline: RIFS Blog

Im Blog des Forschungsinstituts für Nachhaltigkeit (RIFS) schreiben Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeiter aus allen Bereichen des Instituts. Die Themen reichen von Forschungsergebnissen über Veranstaltungsberichte bis hin zu Kommentaren über politische Entwicklungen. Die Autorinnen und Autoren äußern auf dem RIFS-Blog ihre persönliche Meinung.

 

Environmental Procedural Rights at Risk? Inadequate Financial Contributions Threaten to Undermine the Aarhus Convention

From 2-4 July, the Working Group of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention met for the 28th time in the UN Headquarters in Geneva. The agenda featured critical topics such as access to justice, public participation in international forums, the protection of environmental defenders, compliance cases, capacity-building, and possible topics of future work. However, one cross-cutting issue loomed over the discussions: the significant shortfall in financial contributions to support the growing workload of the Secretariat and Compliance Committee.

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Communication for Transformation

What Municipalities Need to Master Conflicts

This year the German government outlined its proposals for an amendment of the Federal Climate Protection Act, setting targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 65 percent compared to 1990 levels by 2030 and to achieve greenhouse gas neutrality by 2045. Many of the measures necessary to achieve these goals – especially when it comes to infrastructure – must be implemented at the municipal level. Bringing about change in towns and communities presents significant challenges and projects frequently meet with opposition.

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Looking Back at the First Years of the Franco-German Forum for the Future With Gilles de Margerie

Gilles de Margerie, who has led the French government’s policy analysis institute France Stratégie since 2018, has served as the French Co-Director of the Franco-German Forum for the Future since its founding in 2020. As de Margerie’s term of office as Commissioner General at France Stratégie draws to a close, his German counterpart Frank Baasner spoke with him about the Forum’s achievements.

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Transformative Partnerships: Reflections on the 2023 Transformations Conference Hub in Prague

The Transformations Conference, with the main theme: "Transformative Partnerships for a Better World" was actually held on-site in Sydney from 12-14 July 2023, but due to environmental considerations to reduce international travel by activists and researchers, it was extended to include a workshop in Portland, Maine, and a European Hub in Prague. The different strands were brought together via an online platform with live broadcasts and networking opportunities. Together, they were able to discuss and highlight the role of effective, inclusive, and transformative partnerships in practice.

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Face the Music!

There is growing interest in sustainability among orchestras, ensembles and concert halls in Germany. Does this signal the beginning of a broader transformation towards a sustainable concert industry? What must be done to lay the foundations for this change? Organised by the Research Institute for Sustainability and Potsdam Chamber Academy, the July conference “Face the Music! Developing the Orchestra Sustainably” brought together a host of actors from the German cultural and concert sectors as well as from sustainability research and politics to discuss these issues and more.

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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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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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Reshaping the city – a top-down or a bottom-up process?

The debate on “Kiezblocks” (similar to the concept of low-traffic neighbourhoods) in Berlin has so far been driven by civil society. Now, the engagement of more than fifty of them has got the new red-red-green government coalition in Berlin to anchor Kiezblocks in their coalition agreement. Even researchers and the public administration are starting to take the idea seriously. But how does an idea go from a demand to a democratically taken decision, and then to implementation? Are these processes a symbol of participative urban planning, or is their being taken up in the coalition agreement instead a top-down government programme? Does it even matter? In this blog post, we hope to shed some light on these questions.

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IASS session on science and art

Sustainability studies and art – Allies for transforming narratives

A symphony composed by the melting arctic deeply touches an audience of policymakers at COP25. A photograph inspires a political scientist to expand her research on the Amazon with a performance set in a Berlin city forest. And a museum about possible futures doesn’t just have an education team running workshops for its exhibitions but dedicates a whole floor to a lab where scientists and artists can “go nuts” in collaborative projects.

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Structures in Transformation – Lusatia in Focus

Since 2020 artist and photographer Sven Gatter has been documenting traces of decay and renewal in Lower Lusatia that are simultaneously new beginnings and occasions for discourse. He is now bringing the results of this work together in the artist's book "ECHO TEKTUR. Ruins and Models". IASS researcher Johannes Staemmler has penned a contribution to this publication, which we publish here in an abridged version. Sven Gatter's works will be shown at Brandenburg’s State Museum of Modern Art from 10 September through to 21 November 2021.

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The Amazon - From the periphery to the centre of discussions

The behavioural and production patterns of humankind have put the world on a collision course with our planetary boundaries. As global warming leads us towards large-scale disaster, ecosystems are becoming more fragile by the day and social inequality is growing fast. We must urgently move towards a more sustainable and equitable collective existence. This text is about the consequences of current unsustainability, rather than its causes.

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