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.

read more

Chemnitz: Harnessing Public Participation in a European Capital of Culture

The much-coveted title of “European Capital of Culture” isn’t always good news for residents. Surprisingly, winning the title is often associated with a decline in the wellbeing and satisfaction of citizens with city life. Following its successful bid for Capital of Culture status in 2025, Chemnitz is pursuing an approach that focuses on public participation and aims to improve social cohesion and quality of life in addition to boosting the city’s reputation. Students from a joint seminar held at RIFS and Chemnitz University of Technology have analysed the social sustainability of a number of Capital of Culture projects.

read more

Braskem’s Salt Mines, Maceió’s Ground Subsidence, and the Pitfalls of Corporate Sustainability Discourse

Marginalised populations are asymmetrically affected at all stages of the plastics production cycle – especially the extraction of raw materials. Such environmental impacts reproduce and reinforce pre-existing racial and socioeconomic inequalities. This is clearly illustrated in Maceió, the capital of Brazil’s north-eastern state of Alagoas: Since 2019, around 60,000 people have been forced to leave their communities after earth tremors and ground subsidence started to endanger the structures of houses and other buildings surrounding Mundaú Lagoon. Entire neighbourhoods have subsequently been abandoned.

read more

Kazakhstan: Central Asia’s Energy Transition Pioneer

In the geopolitics of the global energy transformation, Kazakhstan’s enormous wind and solar potential – coupled with land availability and rich reserves of critical raw materials – represent a strong strategic advantage. Renewables can supply low-cost power to the growing population, bolster energy security and reduce power imports, help decarbonise industry and transport, and attract foreign investment. For a fossil-dependent economy like Kazakhstan, harnessing these benefits is essential for adapting to the decarbonising global economy and contributing to global climate action.

read more

Drawing the ACE Card – Are We Betting on Climate Action?

At a recent UNFCCC-hosted technical meeting held in Bonn in preparation for the next UN Climate Conference, just two hours were reserved for negotiations on Article 12 of the Paris Agreement - Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE). RIFS researcher Deborah Lika asks: Are we really betting on climate action, or just shuffling the deck without ever dealing a hand?

read more
Ocean Governance

Deep Seabed Mining: ‘For the Benefit of Humankind as a Whole’?

Just a few years ago, deep seabed mining was barely on the public’s radar. But growing pressure from a small section of industry and investors to permit commercial mining has seen the topic gain prominence in mainstream media. As intermediaries between present and future generations, youth and young people should be afforded the opportunity to contribute to the debate.

read more

Methane: A Short-Lived Gas With Far-Reaching Effects

In March 2024, leading politicians and industry experts gathered in Geneva to tackle one of the most pressing challenges of our time: methane emissions. The participants discussed available methods to reduce methane emissions as called for under the Global Methane Pledge, which aims to cut global methane emissions by at least 30 percent by 2030 compared to 2020 levels. In this blog post, we take a closer look at why methane emissions matter and how they could be reduced.

read more
Workshop

Carbon Footprint Policies and International Equity and Cooperation

In a world connected by global supply chains, states are hesitant to pursue ambitious industrial decarbonization policies, fearing that strict regulations or high carbon prices could make industries less competitive or that consumers might switch to cheaper products from countries with lax regulation. But there is a solution: Policies that do not just target the emissions that occur within the confines of national or EU borders but that also cover emissions that have accumulated throughout supply chains. Carbon footprint policies target the upstream supply chain emissions that occur throughout the various stages of production.

read more
LOSLAND

Organizing Local Citizens’ Councils: Handbook Shows How It’s Done

The new handbook "Organizing municipal citizens' councils" was recently published. RIFS is co-editor of the work, together with Mehr Demokratie e.V. and the Institute for Democracy and Participation Research (IDPF) in Wuppertal. The handbook is aimed at practitioners in the field of public participation and offers valuable insights and advice on the initiation, planning and successful implementation of citizens' assemblies at the municipal level.

read more

Matching Facilitation Methods to Deliberative Purposes

Imagine three groups of people deliberating the same question. All three groups were recruited the same way, they are deliberating in similar rooms, and they have the same materials available. Does it actually matter how the facilitation of these deliberative processes is carried out? Dirk von Schneidemesser, Dorota Stasiak and Daniel Oppold explain why it matters, and how different facilitation styles affect deliberation.

read more
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.

read more
Decarbonizing Industry

How Decarbonization Will Transform the Geography of Industrial Production: New Evidence on the “Renewables Pull” Hypothesis

The availability of renewable energy is an important factor for future investment decisions in the chemical and steel industry. This is a key finding of our survey of 300 decision-makers from the chemical and steel industry. 92 per cent of the respondents anticipate that their company will relocate facilities as it seeks to decarbonize production. In addition to low-cost renewable energies, the respondents identify political support as a key factor in investment location decisions.

read more

COP28 in Dubai: Greenwashing or Genuine Ambitions?

The agreement reached at the recent COP28 conference has been hailed as the dawn of a new era in the transition to renewable energy. The Guardian newspaper concurred, headlining its story on the final agreement: COP28 landmark deal agreed to ‘transition away’ from fossil fuels. Simultaneously, critical voices from indigenous communities and environmental organizations have dismissed the event as "business as usual." The host country, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), derives its prosperity mainly from fossil fuels and finite resources, and the UAE's presidency added another layer of complexity to the conference.

read more